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Recommended Reading
relating to illustration--inspiration more than outright instruction!

This one is not so much on illustration as artist Charles Reid's lifetime of experience in painting --a delight to study.

Actually, ANY book by Rien Poortvliet is an amazing education in illustration, but this is his classic, recently re-issued.

Like Poortvleit's work, virtually anything by Brian Froud (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinthe, etc.) is an education. This one, his first full sized book, was done with wonderful illustrator Alan Lee (Lord of the Rings, etc.), so you get two great artists for the price of one...

"At times there is a marvelous, effervescent joy in creativity, a kind of humming excitement. Musicians call it 'being in the groove.' Dancers feel it when suddenly everything seems to work together -- the music, the moves, the magic. Artists experience it when their hand seems guided by something beyond their own skill. That magic, that gift that lets me tap into something larger and deeper and better than I -- at its best, that's what making art means to me, exploring the outer (and inner) bounds of creativity. Letting go, letting that Something Other work through me -- at those times I am delighted, humbled to have been allowed to be part of Creation.

"Sometimes that shift -- working on the edge, somewhere outside myself, outside the boundaries of my own skill -- happens when I am working on an assignment, or an illustration for a book or magazine, and it shows. That is truly the best of both worlds."

Country Living commissioned these autumn leaves; detail of a larger work, watercolor.

Folk-art style bottles designed for Early American Life Magazine; the goauche painting Dandelion Farm on the Portfolio page was done to use in the full-page ad for the bottles.

Johnson is best known as a watercolorist and illustrator of natural history and history subjects; she has worked with North Light Books, Sierra Club, Time/Life, Scholastic, Sports Afield, Early American Life, Natural History Magazine, Country Living, The Artist’s Magazine and Watercolor Magic, among others, and often writes about the magic of the process as well as nuts and bolts of creating art in how-to books and articles. Her new, free Art Tips available at left are the result of her over 20 years of teaching and writing about art.

She illustrated a children’s book, A Rainy Day, by Sandra Markel and worked with the Nature Company and Time/Life Books to produce The Walker’s Companion, writing one of the five chapters and doing literally hundreds of field sketches and illustrations for the book.

Johnson’s watercolors and drawings have been included in a number of regional and national shows, and in galleries and private and corporate collections across the country. Her work can currently be seen at the Excelsior Springs Fine Arts Gallery and at Olde English Garden Shoppe, also in Excelsior Springs.

She also does mythic and Celtic-inspired works, a special and very personal love. Sculpting, pottery, and jewelry making stem from the sometime need to do something three-dimensional. She believes the joy of creating is something that we share in common with the Creator, from whom these gifts come.

A montage of spring wildflowers done for Ms. Johnson's column in Country Living magazine, where she was Staff Naturalist for 11 years.

Detail of a two-page spread on backyard birds for Country Living; watercolor.

"Maine Tidal Flats," watercolor, for The Artist's Magazine.

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