October 08, 2008

ArtsWalk in Hudson, NY

"Golden Light", 36" x 48", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

This Columbus Day Weekend, October 10th - 13th, Hudson NY celebrates its 14th Annual ArtsWalk. The galleries will be open from 11am - 6pm, Friday through Monday, with additional festivities in the evenings.

My show, "SEDUCED BY COLOR", opens Friday at Deborah Davis Fine Art, 510 Warren Street. We hung ten oil landscape paintings, large and small, all with color as their main focus. The exhibit runs until November 3rd, 2008.

In addition, you can view nine of my oil paintings in the lobby of Hudson City Square at 541 Warren Street. The lobby is diagonally across Warren Street from the gallery.

October 03, 2008


"Evening Glow", 24" x 36", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

For the month of October, I will be the featured artist at Deborah Davis Fine Art, 510 Warren Street in Hudson, NY. The exhibit, "Seduced by Color" opens October 9th, and will be on view until November 3rd.

Color is my passion. I love exploring different combinations of colors, finding just the right accent to make the piece sing. I am seduced by color, luscious orange and pink cosmos and their lacy green foliage against the deep blue of a cobalt vase; small clear yellow butterflies alighting on deep purple asters; the yellows and pinks of a sunset when the sky is infused with intense color. When I am painting, I am most consumed by the color interactions.

September 20, 2008

Lenox Autumn Art Festival

"sink into the art and be transported"

When: Saturday and Sunday, September 20th & 21st, 2008

Time: 12 noon - 5 pm

Where: Lenox, MA

"Afternoon Gems", 24" x 30", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

It looks like we're going to have a glorious weekend for the Lenox Autumn Art Festival, sunshine and mild temperatures. Come and stroll the streets, be inspired by all the art, and speak to artists about their work.

With my artwork, my goal is to create a scene you want to step into. With all the troubling times these days, I just want to sink into my paintings and be transported.

I will be set up at 71 Church Street in front of Firefly Restaurant. I will have 20 small paintings with me, as well as giclée reproductions of 12 of my favorite paintings. And then step into the Lenox Gallery of Fine Art at 69 Church Street to see my larger paintings.

September 12, 2008

Lenox Autumn Art Festival

"Morning Gems", 24" x 30", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Once again I will be participating in the 2008 Lenox Autumn Art Festival. This year, the two day event will be held Saturday and Sunday September 20th and 21st from 12 noon to 5 pm. The festival will feature 17 galleries within a two block area in historic Lenox Village, showing work by more than 500 artists, as well as outdoor demonstrations and exhibits.

I will be set up at 71 Church Street in front of Firefly Restaurant. Stop by to visit and learn more about my process. I will have small paintings for sale as well as giclee prints.

In addition, I have a number of my large paintings in the Lenox Gallery of Fine Art, located at 69 Church Street. The Art Walk will take place rain or shine. If the weather is bad, I will be at the gallery to meet with people.

August 14, 2008

Large Paintings on Display in Hudson, NY

"Taylor's Head", 30" x 40", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

In conjunction with Deborah Davis Fine Art in Hudson, NY, I am now exhibiting nine of my oil paintings in the lobby of Hudson City Square at 541 Warren Street. The lobby is diagonally across Warren Street from the gallery.

"Sweep of Land", 36" x 48", oil on canvas

We were able to hang six large paintings in the space, so if you are in Hudson to visit the gallery be sure to check out my additional exhibit at Hudson City Square.

"Lavender Dreams", 30" 40", oil on linen

July 14, 2008

Black-Eyed Susans

"Morning Susans", 30" x 40", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

The fields are incredibly lush, and the black-eyed susans are just beginning to bloom. After a very dry spring, we have had lots of days in June with sunshine through midday and then a downpour in the afternoon or evening, perfect growing and blooming weather. So I continue with my meadow series.

I have been delivering new paintings to my galleries for the summer season. This painting can be seen at the Lenox Gallery of Fine Art in Lenox, MA.

June 29, 2008

"Around the Bend"

"Around the Bend", 18" x 24", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

I continue to be fascinated with painting water. This oil painting is based on a stretch of the Hoosic River here in North Pownal, that we frequently pass by during our bicycle rides. I love the way when you look down the river, you can't see what is just around the bend. That is left to your imagination.

This painting can now be seen at Deborah Davis Fine Art in Hudson, NY.

June 09, 2008

New Paintings Delivered to AZ Fine Arts

"Still Water", 30" x 40", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

I just delivered three new paintings to AZ Fine Arts in Wellesley Hills, MA.

"Vernal Pool", 24" x 30"

So for any of you in the greater Boston area, you can now see two of my recent water paintings, "Still Water" and "Vernal Pool", as well as a smaller piece, "Sugar Hill".

"Sugar Hill", 18" x 24"

This painting is based on an early spring view of a very rounded hill, locally known as "Sugar Hill".

June 03, 2008

Value Study

"Vernal Pool", 24" x 30", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Lately I have been incorporating my digital camera and computer in my painting process to give me an instant view of the value pattern. As a painting is progressing, I will take a photo of it. Then in a photo program, I convert the image from color into sepia tones, which easily shows me how well the value pattern of lights and darks is working.

"Vernal Pool", sepia tone photo

The main emphasis of my work is on color. There can be a great pattern set up between different colors, but I also want the painting to show well in dim light when the colors are barely visible. Viewing a small digital image in sepia tones with all color removed basically gives me an instant value study, which I find very helpful in developing strong compositions.

May 20, 2008

Lenox Spring Art Walk

"On My Way", 30" x 40", oil on linen, Lydia Johnston

This Memorial Day Weekend I will be participating in the 5th Annual Lenox Spring Artwalk. This year the artwalk will be held both Saturday and Sunday, May 24th and 25th, from 11 am to 5 pm each day. Eighteen galleries in Lenox, MA will be open, with demonstrations, refreshments, and opportunities to meet with artists.

I will be at the Lenox Gallery of Fine Art at 69 Church Street on both days. The weather is promising to be glorious, sunny and warm, so come out and enjoy the art.

May 12, 2008

Exhibiting with New Gallery

"Distant Farm", 18" x 22", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

This spring I have been accepted into Deborah Davis Fine Art, a gallery in Hudson, NY. It is located at 510 Warren Street, and is open Thursday through Monday from 11:00am - 5:00pm. The town of Hudson is full of art galleries, antique shops and restaurants, a great place to visit.

"Aglow", 12" x 16", oil on canvas

The gallery is set up to show work from all their represented artists on a regular basis, as well as devoting one area to a featured artist, rotating monthly. I will be showing my smaller landscapes throughout the year, and am scheduled to be featured in October, when they will exhibit some of my larger paintings.

May 06, 2008

Still Water

"Still Water", 30" x 40", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Here is another one of the water paintings I have been working on. This painting was actually begun two years ago. The basic composition was set based on cattails growing in my neighbor's pond. But I had never been satisfied with the water, so it had been stored away in my studio.

It seemed a perfect piece to continue my experimenting with painting water, especially as it was large. The backbone of the painting was already there, the color range was already set, I was free to just work on the water. I painted additional layers to convey the sense of still water, the flatness and the rippling reflections.

April 28, 2008


"Blooming", 18" x 24", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Fourteen straight days of sunshine in southern Vermont, in April. Unbelievable. I don't think I can remember ever having a stretch of sunny days for this long. I have lived off the grid since 1980, depending on the sun for my electric power. I have an array of photovoltaic panels on my roof which sends power down to a set of batteries in the basement, where the power is stored. Usually we have a few sunny days and then cloudy weather. We have a backup generator for those times, particularly in the winter, when we use more power than is coming in. Never has there been a time when the batteries are fully charged day after day.

And so what seemed in mid-April to be a late start to spring, quickly changed. We went from barely any buds showing on trees, to the new leaves fully out. The daffodils and tulips and forsythia in full bloom. I always love it when the first soft colors of spring start to emerge. It always goes by quickly, but this year the time frame has been accelerated. Despite wishing that the drama of spring would unfold more slowly, the warmth and sunshine has been wonderful.

April 18, 2008

Painting Water

"Water's Edge", 12" x 16", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Recently I have been working on painting water. I have a large 36" x 48" painting started last fall of a lake with ridges behind. Most of the painting is complete, but I have felt the water still needs to be developed more. So I have been painting a number of smaller canvases experimenting with different techniques for portraying the sense of water in ponds and lakes, the flatness, the reflections, the ripples, the glassiness.

Here is the first of this group of water paintings, a small study of trees surrounding a vernal pool.

March 28, 2008

Process of an Oil Painting

This painting, although relatively small, just 18" x 24", was painted during several separate sessions. I began by laying in the foreground and mid-ground and setting in the meandering stream.

in progress

While painting these parts, I developed a pounding headache and knew I wouldn't be able to complete the piece, so I roughly brushed on the upper background parts in the toned down colors I was working with, then quickly cleaned up my brushes and paints and left my studio.

My headache turned into a fever and head cold and it was two weeks before I was able to return to this painting. Often when I am working on a painting, it takes on a life of its own, dictating what is needed next. I get totally caught up in the creative process, time flies by, while the image slowly emerges.

Here, all momentum and flow was lost. So I took a digital photo of the unfinished painting and printed out a copy. The print on plain copy paper is always quite faint, but works for sketching with charcoal or pastels.


On the printout, I sketched with charcoal possibilities for finishing the composition. These sketch marks are very rough and minimal, but often enough for this purpose. I find it very helpful to sketch out different design possibilities on a printout of a painting in progress, determining how I want to proceed before committing paint to the canvas.

18" x 24", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Once I decided that I would place two small trees on the far bank of the stream, I mixed up more paint and continued forward, developing the stream, adding details to the main part and finishing up the background.

March 12, 2008

Show at Simmer Grille

"Sunset Glow", 16" x 20", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Many of the new small oil paintings hanging in my spring show at Simmer Grille in West Hartford, CT are not yet up on my website, so I put together a page that shows all of the paintings. Just click HERE to see all twenty-eight paintings in the show. They will be hanging through the months of March and April.

March 05, 2008

Spring Fever

"Flowering Meadow", 18" x 24", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

Tuesday morning I drove down to West Hartford, CT to hang a show of my flower paintings at Simmer Grille, an elegant up-scale restaurant on LaSalle Road. Nancy Price from Nancy Price Gallery in Jamaica, VT has begun curating art shows at Simmer Grille, and chose my work for the months of March and April.

"Joyful Morning", 16" x 20", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

We hung twenty-five original paintings as well as three of my giclée reproductions. Most of the paintings are an exuberant display of flowering meadows. We may be in for another two months of mud and rain and bare ground, but I am thinking forward to spring.

I had brought down more paintings than there was room for.
While I was packing a few back in my car, a man arriving at the restaurant started looking and asking questions about my art. He purchased one painting before I had even finished setting up the show, an auspicious start for a new exhibit.

"Hidden Brook", 12" x 16", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

I think it is wonderful for restaurants to rotate original art. It keeps their space fresh and new, and gives many people a chance to see new and exciting art even if they don't have the time to visit galleries. My only regret with Simmer Grille is the low lighting level. The restaurant is lit for mood and ambiance and a good dining experience, not to showcase artwork. The main focus of my art is color, and in the restaurant's interior it is hard to get a good sense of the colors. At least with the smaller pieces, they can easily be carried to the front to be viewed in brighter light.

So if you are in the Connecticut area, stop by Simmer Grille and see the profusion of spring blooms.

March 01, 2008

Layers of an Oil Painting

"Meadow Flowers", 24" x 30", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

This painting was finally completed this past week. It was actually begun more than a year ago, started as pink and purple flowers with scratched in marks for some of the foliage. It was then set aside. The next major layer placed red blooms over the pink and purple, the background going in as fairly neutral yellow, golden and green colors. Each time a new layer goes over, parts from the previous one are left peeking through. I love the depth and richness this adds to my oil paintings.

In its final state this reads as mostly a yellow to orange/red piece, but when viewed up close there are purples and blues and greens showing through that add such a complexity and interest to the painting.

"Meadow flowers", detail

I haven't often used a shaper to scratch marks into the wet oils, but I always like experimenting with new techniques. I loved how those marks continued to show up with each successive layer of oil paint. They add such an extra dimension that can really only be seen in person.

I like to use thick paint in some areas so that you can see the brush strokes. I know one artist who uses thinned oils and strives to keep the surface totally smooth and even. I feel just the opposite. I want to see my brush strokes and marks. For me, I get a sense of the energy that went into making the painting when I can see the swirling brush strokes, the dabs and the slashes.

February 15, 2008


One thing I love about painting in my studio in the winter is the extra reflected light from the snow covering the ground outside. I call it "snowlight" and it means everyday, whether it's sunny or cloudy, is a bright day for painting.

"Spring Gems", 30" x 40", oil on linen, Lydia Johnston

I am working on lots of flower paintings now, waiting for spring. "Spring Gems" is a joyful piece with its bright colors. It has just been completed and can be seen hanging at the Lenox Gallery of Fine Art in Lenox, MA.

February 01, 2008

Exhibit Opens at the Bennington Center for the Arts

"Reflections", 30" x 40", oil on linen, Lydia Johnston

This past Wednesday, I helped to hang a large group art exhibit at the Bennington Center for the Arts. Three of my oil paintings are included in the exhibit, "Reflections", "Shelter", and "Hummingbird's Delight".

"Shelter", 36" x 48", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

The exhibit space is large, so well suited to my large paintings. The show will open on Friday February 1st, and run until the end of May. If you are in southern Vermont, be sure to stop in to see it.

"Hummingbird's Delight", 30" x 40", oil on canvas, Lydia Johnston

January 22, 2008

New Oil Paintings at Lenox Gallery

"Spring Sun", 36" x 48", oil on canvas

I have recently delivered to the Lenox Gallery of Fine Art the latest large oil painting in my receding ridgeline series. These large oil landscapes are so hard to capture in a small digital image, so it is always satisfying for me when they are hung in an art gallery where they can be seen in person.