Renowned artist Michele Johnsen, whose work is known for its magical realism and contemporary landscape painting, takes us on a journey through her art and inspiration in this exclusive interview.
Wise Woman, 30" X 40" acrylic on canvas - A piece that perfectly embodies Michele's vision and love for nature. This painting holds a special place in Michele's heart and is one of the paintings that she feels truly captured her artistic intent. The painting is a testament to her deep affinity for trees and the power, longevity and wisdom they represent.
About Michele Johnsen
Michele has been an artist/maker for most of her life. She moved from Long Island, New York, to the northernmost reaches of New Hampshire in 1976, where she homesteaded with her husband and young son. Over the years, she gave birth to two more sons and continued her art-making journey. She ran The Studio, took on commercial work, and pursued a BS in Art Education. Michele taught art in local schools for close to 20 years. In 2017, she received an MFA from the NH Institute of Art. Her art, mostly contemporary landscape paintings, digs deeper into understanding the connection to the land and expressing not just the seen, but the unseen.
Her journey began in her early years when her compulsion to create was already evident. She is mostly self-taught but furthered her education by receiving a BS in Art Education in 2002 and an MFA in 2017. Her drive to create is inherent and unstoppable. Her artworks are a testament to her life-long passion for creating.
Connecting with the Audience
Michele maintains a consistent presence on several social media platforms and is represented by several galleries. She also sends email announcements to collectors on upcoming exhibitions. Her approach to connecting with her audience and collectors is a combination of modern digital platforms and traditional gallery representation.
Inspiration Behind the Work
Michele lives in a small town in Northern, NH, 16 miles from the Canadian border. Her home is nestled in 13 acres of woods. It's hard not to find inspiration as she looks out her window every day, or goes for a ride around the countryside. She's surrounded by the sublime. Her newest work concerning women's issues was in direct response to the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. There's a lot to unpack when it comes to the history of women's rights, and she's delving deeply into those issues currently.
The Art of Michele Johnsen
Michele creates contemporary style landscapes, a very non-traditional expression of the magic that is nature, the land, and the trees that surround her in her home in the woods. Her predominate medium is acrylic on canvas. When she takes time off from her 'serious' work, she dabbles with collage, mixed media, printmaking, pen and ink, and watercolor. Her newest installation consists of abstracted watercolor paintings on paper that are sewn into with a machine.
Her work stands out in the art industry due to its unique approach to showcasing the intricate beauty of nature. She brings a unique perspective to the "understory" of natural landscapes, a perspective that many have commented on its singularity. Her work is a non-traditional expression of the magic in nature, in the land, and the trees that surround her.
Michele has recently applied for a residency at MASS MOCA. She continues to work on 'Domesticated' so that it will be ready to exhibit in March of 2024. She's always looking for places to exhibit her work. Maintaining a vibrant creative practice is key. She strives to create something every day. She is also preparing for an exhibit titled Symbiosis at Studio Place Art in Barre, VT set to take place in September.
Challenges and Overcoming Them
Michele continues to battle the challenge of being an artist in a rural area. It takes a major feat to stay connected and relevant to a wider audience. She's also beginning to feel the challenge of being a more 'mature' female artist. That's something she's working on figuring out and is being addressed in her newest work titled 'Domesticated'. Despite these challenges, Michele's passion for her craft keeps her moving forward and striving to remain relevant and vital in her art-making.