Creative Christian Moments
“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”
Blog Article 18: Painter Tina Johnson
There is such a renaissance occurring in the Christian community, particularly in the areas of art and prophetic painting not seen since the works of the early church fathers. Every month I am excited to learn about other Christians across the world whom are using their artistic passions to preach the Gospel. However, I have longed for an opportunity to review a Christian painter as I have watched God use this medium in such supernatural ways to share His Gospel message with others. As divine connections would have it, the Holy Spirit has lead me to the works of Tina Johnson in Washington state. In her own words, Johnson describes herself as someone who needs art and went further on to explain how some artists must fulfill this need periodically in their life. As a writer, I can relate to her yearnings of art as I find myself compelled to write frequently myself. (This blog is one way I express my written medium).
Johnson’s interest in painting began in 1977 when she took a drawing class and had a good professor encourage her to pursue art. Johnson fell in love with painting. Her painting career endured many starts and stops as she placed her college ambitions on hold to start a family. Johnson’s passions resurfaced again and again through many experiences such as assisting her son’s third grade classroom and also opening an art school called Little Hand Prints. Many of her students went on to pursue art full time as Johnson spoke story after story about meeting parents of her pupils and discovering that she had contributed to igniting their passion for the arts.
But like many of the great Biblical characters of the past, Johnson has endured cycles of hardship that have molded her talent into the blossoming creations illustrated on the canvas. Throughout much of her life, Johnson suffered cycles of depression which were only further enhanced by the ending of a difficult marriage and watching her son suffer through an illness that ultimately ended in his suicide. For years, Johnson expressed that she suffered much self-condemnation over these incidents which led her into dark periods of depression.
Throughout this period in her life, Johnson considered herself a Christian but never understood the concept of grace; when she finally understood God’s grace, Johnson stated that her depression left her for good. She no longer felt that God was mad at her. Romans chapters 4 and 5 were a comfort to her in that Paul states where there is no law, there is no sin, and that because of Jesus’ fulfillment of atoning for sin on the cross, the Christian is under grace. “God covers up the part that doesn’t work so we can see the beauty He does in our lives.”
Discussion also occurred about God’s creative nature, too. Johnson believes wisdom and creativity are intertwined with each other and she used an example of this by citing the story of Exodus 25, which is the first time wisdom is mentioned in the Old Testament. Supernatural wisdom was imparted to the Israelites by the Holy Spirit to design and build the required temple items for the tabernacle. Johnson likens her painting techniques and inspirations to this passage and stated “when I paint, the wisdom of God is flowing through me” to describe how the Holy Spirit connects with her during the painting process.
A common saying in our society is a picture is worth a thousand words and after viewing Johnson’s painting portfolio above, I had trouble contemplating the right words to write in describing her artistic abilities. Each painting reflects the different passions of her artwork filled with oil and acrylic painted colors such as vibrant blues, rosy reds, textured greens, precious whites, and charcoal blacks.
The first two paintings in her portfolio were murals located in her living room in her house. I first noticed them when we met for the interview and was quite excited to hear about them. During the interview, Johnson had spoken how she enjoys painting murals and that the elephant was her favorite. Both the elephant and the two giraffes made me feel as though I had stepped into the plains of Africa. They are incredibly lifelike and display Johnson’s talent to create and replicate the realism of her objects she paints.
After the murals, two portraits are displayed that she had just recently completed for a client of her two children. Oil paints were used and demonstrate the wondrous and vibrant colors of this technique. Johnson also showed me the photos she was using and I was in awe at how accurately she had transposed the realism from these photos into the paintings. The shower tiles in the boys photos portrayed the grit of the tile sealant as well as different shades of greens reflecting the texture of damp shower tiles and steam from the heat of the water. Johnson stated that this painting also reminded her of worship in that we stand transparent before God and can freely offer up our gaze at the wonders of His majesty.
The next series of photos were of many different types of flowers and bottles. Many of these paintings were completed using oil paints on some and acrylics on others. I tend to paint a bit myself and I always enjoy the vibrancy of acrylics. Johnson’s objects chosen for the paintings contrasted so many different spectrums of the color wheel in such balanced ways. I loved the pinks of the roses, variations in colors of the leaves, and the many different colored bottles. Johnson’s techniques allow the viewer to identify the textures of all her mediums in her work. You can feel the smoothness of the bottles and the delicacy of the stems of the flowers as you gaze at these paintings.
You can support Johnson through prayer, sharing this blog article with others, and contacting her for painting opportunities. Johnson hopes to pursue painting as a full time career and can do murals, portraits, and many other requests. Let this final statement from Johnson inspire my readers to pursue a creative ministry call: “Everyone has enough talent to become an artist!”
Tina Johnson’s page
Johnson, Tina, interview by Barry Irwin Brophy, February 2014.
Tina Johnson’s Painting Portfolio, YouTube, 1:29, posted by Barry Brophy, March 17, 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pslycKKZJwY (accessed March 17, 2014)