Laura Johnson

The Ring
oil on canvas
45 x 48 in.

In my studio today I was painting a nude self-portrait and thinking about sitting down tonight to write this statement. I was listening to NPR’s program, Studio 360. They had several artists on discussing nudity in the arts. One in particular, Damali Ayo, addressed the intrigues of skin. She had gone to various paint stores in the city she lived, asking them to match the colors of different parts of her body and recorded the interactions, most of which she described as sensual. What is it about the human body, the proportions, the color, the movement that is so beautiful that artists for centuries have been driven to represent it and people drawn to admire it? It’s tantalizing, it’s a constantly changing vessel of emotions: happy, sad, sexy. I doubt if I could tire of painting the figure. Although I only paint myself, mostly due to a desire to be alone while I work, each time I sit down I see everything completely anew; discover that beauty all over again. I can’t say that I always feel beautiful myself, but I fully appreciate the human figure and it’s nuances. Besides various conceptual ideas, such as self-image, marriage and solitude, there is a strong interest in formal issues concerned with geometric compositions and flat, color-enriched design. Pattern plays a huge part of the design as a way of setting a tempo through repetition, like in music. Besides an interest in color and design and a desire to create something beautiful what is my work about, what drives the creation of the painting? The same as anything else I venture after, curiosity. A curiosity for discovering what I am capable of and what, when I push myself, will appear in front of me. There is never a preconceived idea of the outcome, perhaps something hoped for, but it’s always a surprise and a step toward self-discover in the end.

© Laura Johnson