Art Brokerage: Roger Hayden Johnson American Artist: Roger Hayden Johnson captures the rich colors of sunlight at dawn and dusk in his architectural landscapes and seascapes. He travels the back roads of the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado) in search of old and indigenous architectural structures. He also loves to explore fishing harbors throughout Europe for small wooden boats. Then in the few short minutes right after sunrise or the fleeting moments before sundown, he takes photos in his favorite light--that spectacular long-shadowed light of intense, rich color and cool, deep shadow. It's this special light that brings a sense of stillness and tranquility to Johnson's paintings. Although the photographs rarely capture the intensity of color and emotion Johnson experiences as he stands in the golden light of sunrise and sunset, the artist reinvents the beauty of the moment in his studio. On canvas he rearranges buildings, eliminates clutter, refines the composition, and adjusts the contrast. With skill developed over decades of painting, he reproduces the color, energy, and excitement of the scene that almost took his breath away in the instant when the shutter snapped. Johnson has been painting since the age of ten, when he begged his parents to buy him a set of oil paints after watching the movie "Lust for Life," in which Kirk Douglas played the role of Vincent Van Gogh. He taught himself to paint the landscapes near the small Iowa farm where he grew up. He later studied art at Central College in Pella, Iowa, and earned a master's degree in art and art history at the University of Northern Iowa. Johnson met his wife when they were both first-year teachers in a small Iowa town--she was teaching French--and the couple spent a year in Paris, the first of many visits to Europe. For Johnson, it was an invaluable real-life immersion into the art and architecture he had studied and loved, complete with evening art history classes at the Louvre and regular all-day Sunday visits to the famed museum. Back in the United States, the artist earned a master of fine arts degree at Drake University in Des Moines and then returned to Europe with his wife for a three-year stay in Bavaria, where Johnson taught art to the children of businessmen and movie stars at the Munich International School. Again, traveling throughout Europe, he absorbed many centuries' worth of architecture and art, especially enjoying his study of religious architecture. As he considers his own work today, he is struck by the influence stained glass windows must have had on him. Both his paintings and cathedral windows, he notes, are defined by light and contrast--strong, luminous color against black shadows. After moving to Colorado in 1984, Johnson began traveling into the mountains and valleys of northern New Mexico, where he fell in love with the earth-colored thick walls of old adobe buildings. With small Spanish-speaking communities clustered around churches, the area reminded him of Europe. And when the sun slanted low across these solid, age-graced structures, he was hooked. Johnson began turning to these buildings and villages for his paintings and eventually focused on them almost exclusively as his subject of variety in mood, composition, patterns of light and shadow, time of year, and landscape. In Europe, the artist is drawn to the same kinds of scenes as in New Mexico, and the paintings which result have a similar feel, although often with a softer, more diffused light. More recently, Johnson has begun painting stunning harbor scenes and boats. Listings wanted by Art Brokerage.
Theodore (Ted) Waddell