GUEST ARTIST: “Keep Your Brushes Wet!” by Cheryl Johnson

Chery Johnson Watercolor Painting Monarch Red Pepper

Hi there. My name is Cheryl Johnson. I live in a log cabin with my husband Don and two cats in Campton, New Hampshire, USA. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love art. As a kid, I avidly absorbed everything my art teachers had to offer. My high school mentor, a former sign painter and illustrator, introduced me to pen and ink and graphic arts.

Heirlooms Watercolor Painting

After graduation, I took up sign painting and truck lettering, and later worked at an ad agency. After a few years, I started a small commercial printing company, which I ran for nearly 25 years. I spent my days doing typesetting, graphic design, illustrating and interacting with customers.

During my professional life, I continued to draw, mostly in pen and ink, and occasionally dabbled in acrylics. When I sold my business and retired, I decided to teach myself watercolor. All those years of pen and ink and graphic arts had made my style very tight and precise. I thought that watercolor would loosen me up. However, silly me, I soon discovered that was not to be.

Spring Thaw Winter Snow Melting Watercolor Painting

I bought a handful of how-to watercolor instruction books and completed many of the step-by-step lessons. The more I learned, the more I loved the medium. However, instead of becoming looser in my style, I found techniques that allowed me to achieve the same level of detail that I was able to get with pen and ink. I especially enjoy creating textures, and have learned how to produce realistic weathered wood, stone, rusty metal, peeling paint, fur, feathers and more.

I paint and/or draw nearly every day in my studio located right outside my front door, using my own photos as reference. I regularly participate in local, regional and national exhibitions. My favorite watercolor subjects include landscapes, old buildings, rust, stone, wildlife, and close-ups of anything with lots of texture. I like bold colors and strong contrasts. I find my subject matter by browsing through tag sales and thrift shops in search of interesting objects for still life, visiting local scrap yards to take photos of junk cars, and traveling the back roads of New England where I find the landscapes I love to paint.

Cheryl Johnson Watercolor Painting Winter Snow Charlie's Place

About my materials: My preferred watercolors are M. Graham and Daniel Smith, and I always use Arches cold-pressed paper (140# or 300#). For brushes, I like Silver Brush Black Velvet. Occasionally I use gouache or watercolor pencils for final details.

Cheryl Johnson Watercolor Painting Pantry Box

Watercolorists I especially admire — my “watercolor superheroes”— include the photorealists Angus McEwan, Carol Evans, Lana Matich Privitera, Mikhail Starchenko, ‎Stanislaw Zoladz, Steven Kozar, David Poxon, Soon Y. Warren, and Laurin McCracken.​

In addition to painting, I also get great pleasure from passing along what I have learned. I teach weekly classes at my home studio, and I can honestly say that I have learned more from teaching than from all the books I have read. Since some of my students have been with me for more than a decade, I have to constantly challenge myself to stay ahead of them. When I am not making art, I spend most of my time gardening, reading, knitting, or taking photos.

I would like to thank Charlie O’Shields and Doodlewash for the wonderful opportunity to share my work with you as a guest artist. Keep your brushes wet!

Cheryl Johnson
Fine Art America

Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Zertab Quaderi 2 years ago

    Your paintings are stunning!

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thank you so much!

  2. Walt. F Pierluissi 2 years ago

    Wao that’s so realistic that makes me feel so little comparing to you!!!! But I am already in my 60’s and is too late for me to achieve that kind of perfection. Your work is totally amazing and remind me of an artist I admire very much, Atanas Matsoureff…

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thank you!. It’s never too late to learn something new! I didn’t start watercolor until I was 55 🙂 I will check out the artist you mentioned.

  3. Jodi 2 years ago

    I am awestruck by your absolutely wonderful paintings!

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thanks Jodi <3

  4. tinafolks 2 years ago

    Hi Cheryl, i admire your precision and detail, its the polar opposite of how I work lol!. However I loved your story and evolution and how your students teach you more then any books, great point! My brush is wet as we speak. be well!

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      I admire those who can work loosely … it is just not within me to paint that way. That’s what makes art so wonderful … there are as many styles are there are artists 🙂 Thanks for your nice comment.

  5. Mary Roff 2 years ago

    Truly amazing and beautiful paintings!! Thank you for sharing your story and your paintings with us!!

    • Linda A Augustine 2 years ago

      I enjoyed not only your beautiful paintings, but also what you wrote. Wish I lived by you so I could also take advantage of the classes you teach. I am sure you have won many awards for such wonderful art.

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thanks Mary. I am enjoying seeing the work of all the artists I see here, and I am honored to be included.

  6. Martha F. Cloutier 2 years ago

    I’m a groupie, what can I say….Just when you think she has done the best painting ever Cheryl leaves you speechless with another amazing piece of work.

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thanks Martha … you have always been a great cheerleader! I hope you will paint again some day. I know you enjoy it!

  7. Laura Kate 2 years ago

    thank you for sharing. Your work is beautiful.

  8. Megha Malviya 2 years ago

    I loved your page; the paintings are so lively and remarkable!

  9. Sandra Strait 2 years ago

    Your work is amazing, Cheryl! I love your realistic style and I’m glad you didn’t fight it when it insisted of following you to watercolor. Thank you for sharing your artistic journey with us.

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thanks Sandra … I am so happy to be invited to be a guest artist. I look forward to participating.

  10. Linda Murray 2 years ago

    I’m speechless! Your painting skills are remarkable!

  11. Karen Fortier 2 years ago

    Fantastic paintings Cheryl! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!

  12. Laura (PA Pict) 2 years ago

    Glorious rendering of texture in particular. I am in awe of how you paint textures like rust and capture all of those vintage patinas.

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thanks Laura. Texture is my favorite thing. I learned how to create realistic textures mostly from a variety of step-by-step watercolor books.

  13. Sharon Nolfi 2 years ago

    Love your work! It definitely reminds me of New England, where I spent many summers as a child visiting family.

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thanks so much!

  14. Laura Hale 2 years ago

    Wow! Beautiful art. I love your colors, compositions, well everything. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thank you very much for your nice comment.

  15. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2 years ago

    Cheryl, I had to do a double take on the one of you painting (I assume that’s you) First thought it was a photo. Your art is mesmerizing – so much to look at. You bring nobility to humble objects and exquisite mastery to all your art.

    • Cheryl Johnson 2 years ago

      Thanks for the wonderful compliment. Yes, that’s my “”selfie” … actually a class demo 🙂

  16. Danai Mongkolrat 2 years ago

    Wonderful and beautiful painting!!!

  17. Sally Burke 2 years ago

    Hi Cheryl, I have missed your work, and having given me encouragement in the past and advice in colours it was a pleasure to see this blog today in Doodlewash which I have only just joined thanks to another friend Louise Primeau. I just love what you create and am always in awe. Best wishes

  18. beverlydyer 2 years ago

    Incredible beautiful detail. Your paintings tell stories.

  19. Itching for Hitching 2 years ago

    I’m new to art and at 70 have only just discovered that I can draw. Being a precision type I’m absolutely inspired by your work. Thank you for the post.

  20. Lin Powell 2 years ago

    Your art is amazing. I wish I could paint like that, but realistically, being over 70 with hands and eyes that are not so reliable, I have had to make peace with what I can do rather than what I wish I could do. But I sure did enjoy looking at your work.

  21. Helen Downing 2 years ago

    Cheryl, great job as a guest artist! Loved your comments. For those who do not know you personally, let me just tell you about Cheryl: She is a Renaissance Woman: A great teacher, a fun friend, a great cook, generous with her art materials and her knowledge, and an expert on moths butterflies,insects, and photographing them and snowflakes too! There just is not limit to her expertise in many interesting areas! I really enjoyed your self-portrait! I would enjoy a class on that. It has been awhile since I have attended lessons with you, but I plan on making changes in my life after this Pandemic! One thing, though, as awful as it is, it has been a great opportunity to paint! And, it is one reason I took the time to read Doodlewash today! Otherwise I might never have seen this! Keep your brushes wet and I hope to see you soon at an appropriate social distance!

  22. Stephen Booth 2 years ago

    I’ve never painted before,I’m awaiting the arrival of my first ever kit to give it a try,your work has blown me away,I can’t wait to start,your a true insperation😊

  23. gthomasart 2 years ago

    Beautiful texture work, I love the colours! There is a lovely balance of movement (from the shadows and highlights) and precision.

  24. Megha@byTheArtBug 1 year ago

    Truly amazing and so beautiful! Love how you paint all the details!

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