Brushing Up with Stephanie Johnson
Stephanie Johnson is back behind the brush. Though she says she never really stopped painting, getting married, having children, and building a house with her husband put her passion on pause for a bit. But if the stack of canvases in her home studio and the canvas stretchers in her hallway are any indication, Johnson is ready to take her art seriously again.
The petite blond mother of two grew up in the Texas Hill Country, earned a degree in studio art at UT Austin and spent two seasons as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She says she’s loved art for as long as she can remember, calling painting her “happy place.” This fall, she’ll be at our Dallas show, selling her original oil paintings and prints. It’s her first show ever — so be sure to give this gorgeous gal some Flea Style love!
Here you can get to know her a bit before you browse her painted landscapes at Fair Park.
We love your work. What’s your style called?
Probably abstract impressionism.
When you’re ready to paint, what’s that process?
I will come in here [a studio on the second-floor of her home], and before I paint, I get centered for a moment. I free myself of my to-do list or any internal or external pressures before I put my brush to the canvas. It’s sort of a meditation-type prep. Time in the studio is like a reset button for me. I leave feeling whole. My husband saw me in here the other day, painting, singing, and dancing around, and he said, “You really find yourself here, don’t you?” And I do! I really find myself when I paint.
You’ve not produced paintings for public sale before. How did you get to this exciting new place?
I went to Italy in March for 10 days and have been painting like crazy ever since — it was so inspiring! Also, I met Brittany at our children’s school, and she’s really encouraged me and given me the extra push I needed as well. Once I decided that I was going to do the Flea Style show, there was a discovery phase that I had to put on fast-forward. I wanted to paint a series for the show that would really represent my style.
I love the outdoors, and sometimes when I see a landscape, my heart skips a beat. I did a lot of sketches before starting these particular abstract landscapes. Right now, I am painting about four to six hours every other day. I haven’t painted like this since college! It feels great!
What’s your favorite painting you’ve done?
I painted a landscape as a gift for my parents. It’s hanging in their house, so I get to go visit it, but I think about it a lot when I am painting. I painted it at the peak of my college studies, and it really means a lot to me.
What is the hardest part about painting?
If I have an off day when nothing seems to click — like artist’s block. I try not to give up on a painting. I will take a break from it; I will give it some time and come back to it. Currently, I am having fights with a couple of them, but sometimes those end up being my favorites.
Are there any similarities between painting and cheerleading?
I remember being in the tunnel before a game and psyching myself up to go on the field. I would say, “All right! You’ve got this!” And now I do the same when I go into the studio. Then, when I have a really great day in the studio, I leave and I am walking on cloud nine — which is the same kind of rewarding feeling that I got at the end of a football game.
What is your advice for an aspiring artist?
Open yourself up. No matter what it’s been — dancing, painting, cheerleading — I’ve never really been afraid to put myself out there. I think you have to squash the ego and just go for it! I totally believe that if you can visualize something, it can happen!
Favorite painting? Edward Hopper’s landscapes, but lately I’ve been loving Lisa Golightly’s work.
Favorite color? Emerald green.
Up with the birds or burning the midnight oil? Right now, both.
Snapchat or Instagram Stories? Insta.
Cupcakes or cookies? I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I am obsessed with queso.
Dogs or cats? Dogs.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Coffee or tea? Lattes.
Pom-poms or tassels? Pom-poms! As a former cheerleader, I have to go with pom-poms!