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Freelance Artist

"In myth -- and our explorations of this other history of our race -- we are freed to wander a reality beyond the familiar, well-trod paths. We see beneath the surface, slipping between atoms to discover the magic that is an integral part of the Creation. Far more than mere fantasy, as some choose to dismiss it, it is a kind of spiritual history, acknowledging the magic in the mundane, the otherworldly beauty and life -- and yes, danger -- that is all around us. Writers from J.R.R. Tolkien to Joseph Campbell have explored those truths and kept them alive for us, preserving the power of myth in our lives.

"The old maps used to say 'here there be dragons.' We laugh at their naiveté or assume it was simply metaphor. But was it? It is a grand paradox that we learn more of truth as we become more comfortable with mystery -- when we accept the fact that we do not know all the answers, nor do we need to.

"When did we decide this other reality -- if it existed at all -- consisted of cute, tiny winged beings that snoozed in the hollyhocks? When did we lose our ability to see unicorns? And more importantly -- how, and why?"

Johnson finds that for her, the writings of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen and Patricia McKillip along with the art of Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud, Charles Vess, and Rein Poortvliet, among others, contain within them a gateway to a different way of looking at the world. A way of challenge and courage, of magic and loving. She is never bored.

She has long had a fascination with selkies and dragons, unicorns and greenmen -- whether King Arthur's Green Knight or the leaf-faced beings that peer down from the walls of European cathedrals; they seem to confirm our ancient relationship with nature. Still playing among childhood's unicorns and finding the secret world just at the corner of her eye, she enjoys creating dragons of her own, in both earthen and polymer clays. Several of her greenman images have been purchased by the Images of the Archetype Collection in Glasgow, Scotland, and have found their way to England as well. Her work is now available in the Arthur Rackham Gallery.

Click on art for enlargements.

This rock faerie, at right, appeared to be waiting for years for me to see him -- the rocks he stands on were painted years ago, as a rather abstract watercolor. Recently it just seemed to demand that energetic little focal point. (Detail of a larger painting.)

I've often wondered why no one depicts the men of Faerie -- I don't mean the little leprechauns and pixies and other small, bizarre creatures, but the MEN. Pan, below left, seemed to be asking that question as well, so I painted him, in mixed media with colored pencil, acrylics, and watercolor. He is one of a series, begun with a greenman who captured my imagination some years back--and has resulted in many different interpretations since. At right is a gathering of greenmen and jacks-in-the-green in the form of wearable art, and below that, a terra cotta garden greenman.

Dragons are a recurring theme, both in my drawings and paintings and in three-dimensional art. The Bookdragon is potter's clay, and the tiny Hand-dragon is polymer, but both sprung fully formed from imagination.

One autumn day I sat out on my deck by the fire and imagined this unicorn in female form, superimposed on the trees against the eastern hill. I couldn't wait to get my sketchbook and drawing pencil.

I am often inspired by the art of ages past; this pencil sketch of a 13th Century greenman peering through the leaves is found in a church in Bauffremont, France; the leaves springing from his mouth suggest he speaks for the natural world. He is a pagan face that has become part of our churches and cathedrals in Europe and America. The greenman is as contemporary as today. This somewhat contemplative foliate face is my own pen and ink drawing, based on a photo of a friend. Like the previous image, I have used this one on jewelry and prints.

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