Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Trip Through The Archives

  Janelle writing here...

  Many of you have followed Johnny's career for decades, watching as his style has morphed through the years. Back in the early days Johnny was known for his small landscapes, capturing both the local coastal scenes as well as the beauty of the oak covered hills, and especially his take on trees.
  We recently got the wonderful news that he will be featured in a "Monterey Now" show at the  Monterey Museum of Art opening in February 2013. With this in mind, I have been going back through the archives, taking time to see what we have on file, photo wise. 
  I believe the show will feature much more recent works, some not even created yet, but it just got me thinking about all his vintage paintings out there. We both wish we had taken more photos of his earlier plein air paintings, but at least we have some. 
  While culling through for this post, I am amazed at the amount of pieces that have found homes all over the world.  I love seeing some of these older paintings, and thought it would be fun to pick out a few and try to show how Johnny has changed his work over time. 
  We would also love for you to take the time (about 12 minutes...) to watch this great video of Johnny , when you have a moment or 12. It was produced locally as part of The 100 Story Project. The project features artists, historians, poets, etc. from our local area, telling their stories. Johnny tells his story much better than I can, and I really enjoyed seeing it.
What I am doing here is sort of my take on the progression I have been so fortunate to watch....I've seen all sides of the "Artist's Life", up times and down times. It's a great adventure, and I am happy to be a part of it.

  These paintings below are some of my favorites, and I have tried to group them together in a way that makes sense, at least to me. Like I've mentioned, I just wish we had decent photos of more of the older pieces. Anyway....

  Johnny has a great way with trees. So many of our collectors have loved his trees over the years....
I want to show how Johnny's tree paintings have evolved from the more traditional to those with a contemporary feel:

Classic. I'm thinking Elkhorn Slough, 12X9 inch size..

I love the cypress tree paintings. A little looser here.

A nice small painting, showing Johnny's color play.
He gets looser here, too.

Looser still...

Quite loose and now the tree is isolated. High drama, in my opinion.

Very moody and drippy...

Here he has jumped to a very large format, 60X60, maybe, and he is getting
very drippy, with layers of paint. This will become his style for some time.

Juicy, simplified and lots of color.

  There are lots of Johnny's "tree" paintings out there. You are very lucky to have one, if you do!

  The triptych, below, is now in the permanent collection of The Monterey Museum of Art. It's a big size, 36X108 if I remember. Though hard to make out here, there are some nice drips, nice over laying of paint, and I love the unusual color of the sky. It is a great transitional piece, as it has a traditional feel, but with the drips and hyper-color, it also seems contemporary to me. 
  Johnny loves to paint these oak studded hills...Carmel Valley, Old Coast Road, Corral di Tierra..Even near Cambria and up in Sonoma. This is a view out Carmel Valley.

  Below is the same idea, a grove of Eucalyptus trees in this case, but with everything blurred, and a nice low horizon line. To me, it's like he has taken the hills and trees and just pushed them to the edge of recognition. Color and shape.

  Some of my very favorite of the older "hills and trees" paintings are the few below. They have a common thread, which is the lone tree...very much a story being told. There is the feeling of isolation, vulnerability and loneliness, which adds a poignancy I love. 
  Again, these are my thoughts on the paintings. I bet it's all about composition and color to Johnny!

I really wish we still had this one at home.

This is a small, super sweet painting...just lovely.

An absolute gem. See how loose and simple? It's very difficult to pull this off.

Same idea, updated. This is a very large painting, with lots of layers and drips. Very nice play of color.
Promised to the Crocker Museum by a collector.

Simplified to the limit. But not simple! We have this one still, and I love it.
A nod to Gottardo Piazzoni, the "Grandfather of California Painting".

  I've included this photo of Johnny from several years ago because it captures a time when he would go out painting as often as he could. This is just how he would look, either along the coast or out in the hills...

Wonderful photo of Johnny by Peter McArthur. It looks like
Sobrantes Point....

  With the photo above in mind, The paintings below are coastal scenes, some painted long ago, and again, showing the development and change in style over the years.

This is one of Johnny's favorites, done at Point Lobos way back when...

Another early Point Lobos scene.

I just adore this one. Looking south towards Rocky Creek Bridge.
It's much looser and juicier.

Then he gets all jiggy. Color, looseness and lots of paint. Love it.

  So, keeping the above coastal paintings in mind, it's not so hard to see how he gets to here:

  Then we see the total simplification of it in these next two paintings, both large scale, both me, anyway...

I happen to know that this beauty really is one of Johnny's favorites. The sea is there, the foggy feeling, but it is so streamlined...the paint wiped across the canvas just works so well.

Another super-simplified seascape, but with silver paint for a lovely, reflective quality in the sky.

 This last painting was done very recently. It is very much what Johnny has been doing lately. He still captures the idea of the Monterey Bay, with a subtle sweep of a curve, and the colors are all about the sandy dunes, with the native dune plants in fall color. That's what I see, anyway...
  I hope you can see it. I try to explain to clients where Johnny has come from in his paintings over time. Sometimes I think I should just let them see what they want to see. Other times, the client really wants to know what the painting is about. Either way seems to be fine, and I can't talk about the work like Johnny can, anyway. I'm always learning something new, so I just enjoy sharing...

"Monterey Dunes" 48X60   SOLD