Princeton Blog

Layne Johnson

We are excited to announce that we have welcomed Layne Johnson as one of our newest Ambassadors. Layne is a Fine Art Artist living and working in East Texas. He creates using oil paint and specializes in landscapes. We are drawn to his cloudscapes against the wide-open skies and love how they transport us to a warm evening watching the sun set.

Fun Fact: Layne has illustrated more than 20 children’s books and in his free time, can be found herding his chickens and digging in this garden.

Read on to learn a little bit more about Layne.

Tell us a little bit about yourself? A few years ago I felt a strong pull to get back to my fine art roots after many years creating art for children’s books, and as an illustrator & graphic designer for many before that. Like many artists, my style had evolved over the years, along with my perspective and sensibilities. But I’ve always been a representational artist and I’ve created in many media. But painting has always been my first love.

En Plein Air with Catalyst and Aspen brushes.

When did you start painting and what inspired you start? I began painting in oils at a young age, about 12 or 13. I was probably inspired by the interesting paint-by-number my mother did (she’s about to turn 96). She only did a few, but it was enough to inspire me to paint. I still have one of hers hanging on my wall. And funny enough, my Mom still has one of my early paintings hanging in her room, too.

These days, I find my inspiration in the Texas landscape. The big, powerful, stormy skies. The way the light plays on the trees and rocky terrain. The romantic sunrises and sunsets. The lazy rivers, creeks, and streams. I don’t think I’ll ever stop exploring it all. It’s hard to predict exactly what’ll inspire me, but it’s always something about the light.

What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given? As far as advice, I can’t remember who told me, but it was “Don’t be too hard on yourself, painting is supposed to be fun!”

Layne Johnson_with The Calm Before and Princeton Catalyst Round.

What is your favorite Princeton Brush and Why? It’s so hard to pick a favorite Princeton brush because I like so many. I paint lots of cloudscapes, so of course I favor the filberts. I love the synthetic mongoose Imperial line. But I was incredibly surprised by both the Catalyst and Aspen lines. I thought the Catalyst might be a bit stiff when I first touched the bristles, but now I paint with the Catalysts a lot and love them! The one surprise for me, was a shape I had never tried before – the Angle Bright. This is fantastic brush, especially for Plein Air. They block in well and can cut into areas with the tip in a way that a flat can’t.

I’ve tried lots of different brushes over the years. Different brands, different bristles, different shapes and sizes. And I’m very, very pleased with my Princeton brushes.

LayneJohnson_with Heaven’s Release

What’s one art tip that you can share with our audience? The tip I tell my own students is basically to remember that they are on a journey. It’s their painting journey. It’s not a race and especially not a sprint. When we begin painting, we are learning a lot of useful information about the basics. Further into the journey we learn and practice new techniques and new approaches. We improve. If we keep at it, we get better. And we learn from our mistakes. Mistakes actually are good. We learn more from them than we do from our successes (even if the mistakes are sometimes painful).

Also to remember that a less than successful painting is actually a step closer to a better painting. And these better ones add up to good ones. And from good to great! But you have to put in the work, it doesn’t happen overnight. And with each step you can look back on your journey and appreciate the progress. So it’s important to be patient. It’s about progress, not perfection.

What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Oddly enough, one of my favorite paintings is one that I painted when I was 13, when I was just beginning my art journey. It’s the painting my Mom has still. I remember that painting hanging in the house I grew up in and in two other houses she’s lived in. I remember telling her to let me hang a more recent, “better” painting but she always refuses. One reason it’s a favorite of mine is because I KNOW she loves the painting. But also I have specific memories of painting it. I remember the colors I used in the sky. I remember painting the split rail fence. I remember the smell of linseed oil. I look back and marvel at me, 13, painting an 18″ x 24″ landscape painting. These are fond memories and maybe that’s what painting is all about!

Why do you do what you do? What is your WHY? You know my wife has always said I should teach. I’ve always declined. “I’m not a teacher.” “I don’t know enough.” Fill in the blank, I had all the excuses in the world. But I look back and realize that though I’ve lived a pretty solitary existence in my studios over the years, I’ve always been there to show others what I know. (I visited schools for 15 years teaching kids how to draw when I was creating children’s books.)

It all started to change when I became active on social media more than three years ago. Since then I’ve amassed followers worldwide and I basically teach a little bit almost daily. The feedback I get enriches me. It’s so inspiring to hear people’s stories. Art really is a universal language. A wonderfully positive one.

So when she finally pushed me out of my comfort zone to create online courses, I was thrilled (and a bit surprised) to see the reception from students ALL over the WORLD. We now have over 500 students in my online school. That’s not something I could have done with in-person workshops. Online courses are so much more accessible to students in a way that live classes never have been. And there’s no location or schedule limitation. (I’m still stunned by the cost of art classes at traditional universities!)

I’m happy to say I’ve learned a lot about teaching in the last year and my newest course on Trees and Flora will be an even richer experience for my students as a result.

Why do I do what I do? Because I love to take people to places with my paintings. To inspire and move them emotionally. And if I can share and teach other artists some of what I’ve learned and it makes a positive difference in their own work, and they respond with thankful, full hearts . . . and build a community around that, then life doesn’t get any better!

Layne Johnson with Cool Waters and Princeton Select Artiste Liner.

Are there any reoccurring themes in your work? Oh yes! If you visit my website or follow me on social media you’ll see that cloudscapes are definitely a recurring theme of mine. I LOVE clouds!

“Paradiso”, 64×48, Oil on Linen

Where can we find more of your work? I love connecting with fellow artists from around the world. You can learn more about some of the techniques I use in my free ebook: Begin with an Imprimatura Information about my online painting classes is available at: Connect with me on Instagram @laynejohnsonstudio, where I share work-in-progress videos from my studio. And if you’re in Texas, you can see my work in person at The Good Art Company in Fredericksburg, or at The Dutch Art Gallery in Dallas.

Layne Johnson with Mary Katherine Fickel at the Good Art Company art gallery in Fredericksburg, TX.


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