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Art & Life with Anne Johnstone

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anne Johnstone.

Anne, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My story is that I don’t feel like I have a story. Even though my mother did art projects with us when we were little and encouraged me in my art-making throughout my childhood and adolescence, the home I grew up in was dominated by my father’s alcoholism. The fear with which I approached life was antithetical to developing a sensitive aesthetic. I have persisted in art-making, despite obstacles, because art allows me to make sense of my world. At times, though, I feel like a bull in art’s china closet.

I got a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts/Boston with a major in studio art and have taken classes at all the major Boston art schools, but I never went to any of them full time. For a long time I did freelance computer production work and artist modeling to keep afloat while I began to paint in earnest.

When I started painting seriously, my work appeared as narrative with people and animals as the subjects. My objective was to transform my life by creating pictorial alternatives to the memories of my life growing up. But a lot of psychological drama appeared. I was recreating trauma.

At some point, after a major anxiety attack, I began to learn about mindfulness and Buddhism. I started to meditate. Eventually, my artwork became more about stillness, emptiness, and breath. The imagery has become abstract and I am querying my life in a different way. This place is where I currently find myself.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Art has always been a place of refuge, inquiry, and sometimes just escapism for me. It’s been a place where I can effectively indulge my introversion. In art, my sensitivity to emotion finds release in the exploration of color. My need to recoup my energy in solitude finds haven in imagery. My quietude finds substance in order and composition. As I work with the thoughts and feelings I bring to the canvas, I create my version of poetry. My intent is to offer it to the viewer as a visual sanctuary.

I’m a mixed media painter. My materials are collage, acrylic, wax, and found objects. I like spending time with a painting and layering my media is an important part of that. I hate a blank canvas. For that reason, I almost always start out by collaging the surface. Recently, the collage gets entirely covered by paint and serves only as texture. I struggle significantly with color choices, trying to exploit the plasticity of color (i.e., what range of values can I achieve with a certain color, what happens when it mixes with other colors, what is the relationship of one color to another?) These questions are always on my mind throughout the painting process. When I get to a place where I can do nothing more but ruin a composition by continuing to paint, I take a deep breath and pour beeswax over the whole thing. From there I scrape, paint, and alter the work until the color and composition satisfy me. I keep new canvases on display in my studio so I can continue to scrutinize them. Sometimes, I find that they are not done and then the process continues.

My artwork is ultimately about consciousness understood from the perspective of an introvert.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
Personally, my biggest challenge is self-promotion. That, and having confidence that a gentle “voice” has relevance in today’s strident world. Maybe, from what I just wrote, I can extrapolate that the biggest challenge an artist ever has is not to forget that following one’s vision is embedded in the craft of art-making. Ego gets in the way. I don’t consider my art as political and my current inspiration comes from doing interior work. Please remember that I speak here out of that context.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My studio is at Vernon St. in Somerville MA. I participate in Somerville Open Studios the first weekend in May and, usually, in the Vernon Street Open Studios the first weekend in December. The Address is: 6 Vernon Street #13 (on the second floor), Somerville MA 02145.

This summer I am included in three exhibitions:
“The Power of Art”, an artist juried show, 77 Main Street, Maynard MA, July10-August 11, reception July 14, 7-9pm. “New England Collective IX”, 460B Harrison Avenue, Boston MA, August 3-31 , reception August 3, 6-8pm.

“VOICES, A selection of Zea Mays printmakers”, 183 Main Street, Brattleboro VT, August 16-September 30, reception TBA.

My website is also a place to see a lot of my work: I am on Instagram as: annejstone.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 77 Liberty Ave. #14
    Somerville MA 02144
  • Website:
  • Phone: 617-666-8120
  • Email:
  • Instagram: annejstone
  • Facebook: Anne Johnstone

40 x 40″ 2018

18 x 18″, 2018

36 x 34″, 2018

40 x 38″, 2018

30 x 34″ 2017

24 x 24″, 2018

44 x 34″ 2017

22 x 20″ 2017

Image Credit:
Bustier, Red
Stop (Revised), Listen Here
Another Toe in the Pond, Hoops and Arches
Do the Math, Pink Play Ground
Jerry Russo

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