Whitney Johnson paints compelling geometric constructions with curious shapes, colors, and compositions. She is from Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from BYU with a BFA degree in Studio Arts: Painting and Drawing. She also studied oil painting in Florence, Italy at the Santa Reparata International School of Art.
Talk to us about the messages symbolism you portray with your art. The underlying themes and concepts in my artwork are deeply personal to me, and are usually inspired by a simple word or phrase that resonates within me—for one reason or another. I usually have a “plan” for what I want my painting to end up like, but of course it never turns out the way I expect it to and the whole process from start to finish is basically an epic string of failed experiments. Lots of trial and error and problem solving. Which can be terribly frustrating at times. I use symbolism as a way to explore the word or phrase that originally caught my attention—to go deeper into what it means to me and understand more fully why it sparked something within me in the first place. Symbolism also allows me to portray all the different layers of a single concept, which allows a kind of learning process to take place as I create.
Talk about juggling motherhood with your art career? Between living in small apartments with not a lot of space to set up a studio and becoming a mother (to a toddler and newborn twins!), I’ve definitely had to redefine what it means to make “art” in the traditional sense. I asked one of my professors in college one time if it was possible to be a mom and a part-time artist, and his response was something along the lines of there being no such thing as a “part-time artist”—you’re either an artist or you’re not. Truth be told, I haven’t been producing a whole lot of paintings in the recent years, but I’ve continued to develop my creative muscle and aesthetic style in different ways in my daily life, for which I am very grateful. I’ve allowed myself to not feel limited in my career as an artist just because I don’t have the time or space to paint, but to find beauty and purpose and meaning through photography, homemaking, and motherhood in general. With that being said, I have plans to make painting a part of my regular routine again, which I am really excited about. My three beautiful children inspire and teach me on a daily basis, and have only motivated me more in developing my creativity.