Artist Interview - Morgan Johnson
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Morgan Johnson. I am a freelance artist from High Point, North Carolina.
Why do you do what you do?
When it comes to creating, I love to think outside the box and see what new ideas I can come up with to draw. Watching it come to life with as many colors as possible is my favorite part!
You use so many vibrant colors, do you have any that you favor?
I love using a variety of colors in each piece that I create. Reds and blues are some of my favorites because they are the most satisfying to blend! I also love using yellow- it gives that bright and happy pop of color to a piece.
What inspires your art?
Nature and food! I love animals, so I love trying to capture their expressions in my drawings. I almost always have a food drawing in progress- I have a big sweet tooth, so my favorite desserts often inspire my next idea.
How and when did you get into art?
I have always loved arts and crafts since I was a child. Although I drew for fun over the years, I didn’t begin to take it seriously until high school. That’s when I discovered what a huge passion I had for creativity.
How has your practice changed over time?
I started out painting most of the time with acrylics on canvas. After a while, I began to draw with colored pencils more and fell in love with the process! I was mainly into abstract drawings at first, but I eventually began to draw more realistically. Now I always choose to draw realistically- but with a colorful twist.
What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?
My favorite drawing started out with a pair of high-top Converse. I knew I wanted to add more to the drawing, so I filled the shoes with a colorful flower bouquet. I love the uniqueness of this piece and all the colors it allowed me to use.
What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?
To practice! So many times when I get frustrated with a project that isn’t turning out the way I had hoped, I want to quit and trash the idea. But improvement doesn’t happen overnight! Practicing even just a little a day can really pay off- it helps you learn from your mistakes and eventually helps you develop your own artistic style.
What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?
One thing that I focus on in all of my drawings is to color lightly and add multiple layers of color, rather than pressing down too hard with the colored pencil. Pressing too hard immediately saturates the paper, so it’s harder to give your drawings the highlights it needs to make them look more life-like.
Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?
My first go-to when fixing a mistake is to see if I can still blend over the mistake with darker or bolder colors. A white gel pen can also come in handy if the mistake is pretty small. If it can’t be fixed that easily, I will try to re-invent my idea so that the mistake plays into it. I only choose to start completely over on a piece if I really loved the idea.
What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?
I love the 300 Series Bristol paper. It is thick enough to be quite sturdy (I never like drawing on flimsy paper) and has a smooth surface that is perfect for colored pencils. It can hold plenty of layers of color, so it’s a great surface to blend on.
What art materials could you not live without?
Colored pencils (with a variety of colors) and paper. And of course a regular pencil with a good eraser!
What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?
I love using all colors in my art. If I start a piece planning to use only a smaller palette of colors, I almost always change my mind halfway through and bring all the other colors back in.
Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?
Dean Russo was the first artist that really caught my eye at a young age. I was mesmerized by the number of colors and creativity in his paintings. I also loved the amount of detail he put into his work- one glance isn’t enough. You have to really study each piece to appreciate everything that went into his creations.
What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?
How long each drawing takes, which is hard to answer because they can vary quite a bit in length.
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