Artist as Collector: Monika Johnson, Finding Inspiration

“Owens River Light,” by Frank Serrano, oil, 8 x 10 in. Collection of Monika Johnson

When Monika Johnson sees someone doing what she tries to do, she finds it inspirational — and she buys the piece. Who’s in her collection?

“I think having met the artist and liking the artist goes into it,” she says about choosing what to add to her painting collection. “I look for qualities of the painting that I want to paint like. It serves as inspiration, aspects of the painting that I really appreciate and wish I could paint like that.”

“Truckee,” by Anastasia Dukhanina, oil, 9 x 12 in. Collection of Monika Johnson
“Truckee,” by Anastasia Dukhanina, oil, 9 x 12 in. Collection of Monika Johnson

Johnson chose to talk about a painting by Frank Serrano to start things off. “This is how I’d like to paint,” says Johnson. “And the subject matter looks like a lot of paintings that I try to do. I love painting mountains, and I think he is a master of painting mountains and the light that hits the top of them. I love the simplicity of how he breaks things down, massing them into simple shapes. I took a workshop with him, and then pursued this piece.”

“Winter Creek,” by Antonin Passmard, oil, 20 x 36 in. Collection of Monika Johnson
“Winter Creek,” by Antonin Passmard, oil, 20 x 36 in. Collection of Monika Johnson

Next up is a piece by Anastasia Dukhanina titled “Truckee,” as it was painted in that town as a demonstration. “I hosted her when they came to Tahoe and held a workshop,” Johnson says. “This was done as a demo on a cloudy, gray, snowy day. I loved the way she was able to capture a scene on a gray day. No sunshine, no light and shadow. And I always avoid painting a car. They tend to leave. I shy away from that. She puts everything in. The car, the construction sign, the utility poles, power lines — she is very true to the scene. I always shy away from that, edit, zoom in, leave things out. She puts it all in.”

“Winter Meadow,” by Monika Johnson, oil on panel, 11 x 14 in. Collection the artist
“Winter Meadow,” by Monika Johnson, oil on panel, 11 x 14 in. Collection the artist

Finally, a piece by Antonin Passmard. “I just love the way Antonin paints,” says Johnson. “I studied with him in France and in St. Petersburg. He uses lots of paint, and has lots of energy in his paintings. I shy away from painting the snow on the trees. I go when the weather is cleared and it has warmed up. But the way he was able to capture the tree with the snow on it is great. The depth he got, the way he highlighted the distance, the way the light is hitting the trees that are far away, with the closer trees in shadow, it leads you in to the distance. I wanted a snow scene from him, and I picked this.”

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