Artist Megan Woodard Johnson presents art from her “Mapping Moments” series, which examines layers of memories and life experience.
I’m a mixed media abstract artist, living with my family (a husband, two kids, one dog, plus a new a puppy by the time this is published!) in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m very lucky to share a beautiful studio with another artist, with space for us both to create and offer classes and workshops.
I’ve been focusing on a consistent art practice for nearly twelve years. Four years ago, when I made the decision to invest in studio space outside of the home, my focus on making a career as an artist shifted into high gear.
I now participate in juried art events such as fine art fairs and group shows. I also have work in a growing number of regional fine art galleries. I’ve sent artwork off to collectors on both coasts, and even as far as Australia, thanks to connections made on social media. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a few solo shows and to be included in some wonderful invitational exhibitions as well.
I work with a wide range of materials to create paintings that examine how layers of life experiences build up to create who we are and where we are in our life. I work in layers, obscuring some parts and revealing others, showing a build-up of color and line, texture and material, to represent the depth of learning and experience that form a moment.
My process combines meticulous piecing of materials with gestural, intuitive mark making—just as our lives contain moments of structure and periods of chaos. Ultimately, I aim for a balance between these two factors, creating a celebration of the complexity of our experiences.
I begin by creating a collaged layer of vintage paper ephemera, precisely fitted to fill the background of each piece. I choose materials that were used in the past to teach, keep records, and connect people. You will recognize bits of office ledgers, machine manuals, maps, children’s workbooks and handwritten letters. These items literally carry the history of the original users with them, and they form the first layer of every piece.
On top of that, I layer on acrylic paint, oil pastel, graphite and colored pencil (all applied with an intuitive approach) with broad sweeps of color in wild and gestural marks, or scratches of pencil and scribbles of oil pastel moving around the page.
These colors and marks create depth and convey energy, contrasting with the structure of the ground layer. Lastly, I utilize more bits of collage from my supply of vintage papers, but this time aim for using pieces with bursts of color and pattern. These are the tiny details that draw the viewer in for closer inspection.
Ultimately, I want viewers to connect to the work in a very personal way. I also hope they discover that the personal nostalgic memories pulled to the surface by my work are common to many viewers.
So many of our experiences are at once personal and universal. Because of this, a map of my memories can easily connect you to significant moments in your own history.
Link to Carolyn’s original article here.back