Award-winning artist, teacher and writer Michael Chesley Johnson has a new book, Through a Painter’s Brush: The American Southwest – Painting the Four Corners States. It is his third full-color book about plein air painting, and it follows him as he visits diverse wild places, from snowy mountains to deserts and canyons (including the Grand Canyon). It is available here, both as a paperback and as an e-book download.
The 130 pages include eight chapters of observations on the ancient multicultural landscape of the Four Corners States, remarks on the artistic process, notes on architecture, history, and various plein air events, including the recent Plein Air Convention near Las Vegas.
On the technical side, there is advice about traveling with paints & pastels and staying safe in a rugged, extreme environment. There are examples of oil paintings, pastels and a few watercolors, checklists, two demos, insights about large format paintings and color, including “the three secondaries.”
There is also a chapter on Maynard Dixon, including this quote: “Be sensitive in perception, circumspect in approach, clear in color, definite in form — and remember, it is not the last stroke but every stroke that counts.”
Below is a painting that Michael did from Dixon’s property, a view of “Diana’s Throne.”
Among the many insightful comments in the book is this one from an onlooker at a plein air event: “You know, I don’t paint myself, and I can’t afford any of these paintings, but just looking at them has changed the way I see. Now when I hike through the Park, I feel like I’m in a painting.”