J A Y J O H A N S E N
“I have always loved the female figure as subject, starting with the early years of my art career when I photographed and painted street people and subsequently coined my watercolor technique the “drip method.” Since then, I’ve progressed through a series of portrayals, ranging from the weathered, forcefully telling face of a homeless woman to the graceful dedication of a performer in motion, my mediums as varied as watercolor, pastel, acrylic, and oil. In my depictions of performance art, I was inspired by the interplay of ornate costumes and the human form in motion. Dramatizing my subjects with a distinct absence of background light, I developed my figurative realism technique in a single-point-of-light style as exemplified in my renderings of ballerinas, matador(a)s, flamenco and hula dancers. But with my recent foray into urban art, my creative instincts and passion have come full-circle, reminiscent of the days when I found inspiration in the dramatic visages of inner-city dwellers, the graffiti-laden surfaces of urban landscapes not unnoticed. In contrast to the precise technique used in my figurative realism paintings, my current method draws upon my earlier expressive art forms wherein I combine the fluidity of free-flowing runs, drips, and splashes with static, interpretive, emotion-laden faces of beautiful women set amidst a colorful urban artscape. Guided by balance, temperature, bold color, abstract shapes, and a general sense of harmony, I start with a two-dimensional background and a distinct absence of lines, with initial disregard of my subject, to create a canvas replicative of a graffiti wall or an old poster board. I use pallet knives, brushes, water sprayers, and stencils to apply my medium of propelled paint to create drips, spatters, and pours that hearken back to the beginning of my art career. For the final step, I add in my subject—a striking face painted in black. The result is a relatively unconstructed manifestation of my artistic spirit—a freer form of self-expression delivered as a perfectly balanced image of organized chaos. ”
~ Jay Johansen
COMMAND OF VARIOUS MEDIUMS
Jay Johansen has painted in virtually all mediums, including pencil, charcoal, watercolor, pastel, acrylic and oil, each of which contains unique attributes that he integrates and exploits in his quest to render his subjects with oil on canvas.
Back in the mid-1990s, Johansen developed a tutorial about a watercolor technique he coined the “drip method.” While he created underpaintings in watercolor, he used pastel to fill in detail and continued in this method for about 10 years. Jay received more than 50 awards for his achievements in all mediums, including mixed media and was commissioned and collected by celebrities and dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela, Patti LaBelle, Dave Brubeck and Jesse Jackson. But it was his discovery of Johannes Vermeer’s method that inspired him to pursue a more precise painting technique. Dramatizing his subjects with a distinct absence of background light, he perfected his figurative realism technique in a single-point-of-light style.
Johansen’s longtime love affair with the beauty and tranquility of the Hawaiian Islands informs his latest figurative muse, the hula dancer. Now that he’s established a studio on Maui, he’s incorporated this icon of authentic Hawaiian culture into his portfolio of figurative works. Like the costumed performers he’s already painted, Jay’s renderings of hula dancers speak to an authenticity of spirit that evokes a folkloric narrative conveyed with the sophistication of a master storyteller.