Jerden Johnson's serious interest in portraiture has taken place in recent years. He has always been fascinated by people, particularly how they look and behave… thus his career was in the human sciences. But his interest in expressing people's manner and gesture slowly enticed him into drawing and painting the human form. Jerden cites the first pivotal moment as his submission of some pencil drawings to a church sponsored art exhibit. Initially resistant to the idea, as he would be in the arena with professionally trained artists, he was surprised to enjoy the experience. The next turning point came many years later. Again he was encouraged by an artist friend to submit several paintings to a statewide exhibit. While he had not completely overcome the “impostor” syndrome, he was becoming more comfortable exhibiting his work. In the past Jerden has enjoyed painting on the street, at various festivals, and other events. While valuing these opportunities to publicly practice his craft and make portraiture accessible to many, he now devotes virtually all of his time to studio painting. Because portraiture is such a deeply personal endeavor, he prefers to focus on occasions such as family reunions and the creation of timeless portraits for loved ones. Aside from the enormous satisfaction from painting, the artist says, "I am always humbled and encouraged when I am told that "I 'caught something' of the model beyond their physical form." Johnson cannot fully explain his current obsession with portraiture, except that he feels the face represents a landscape of something deeper within the person. Until recently he has been completely self taught. However, his skills have been tremendously advanced by studying for the past few years under the direction of Christine Pilkinton of Madison, TN.
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