Michael Chesley Johnson, Fine Art, Landscapes, Seascapes, Maritimes, Paintings, Oil, Pastel

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"I am easily inspired to go outside and paint. Sometimes it's a momentary, alchemical mixture of light, color and shade that does it. A stream running through a meadow whispers in quiet contemplation; thunderclouds over a mountain crackle with urgency. At these times, it's all about capturing the moment. At other times, though, it's my need to go out often and seek my roots in nature. This isn't so much about 'capturing the moment' as it is about nurturing my relationship with the landscape, a relationship that has been ongoing for more than half a century now. Rather than working quickly to get the moment down, I spend more time not just looking but also using all my senses to discover, trace and reinforce the patterns that connect me to the land. This type of painting is very spiritual and extremely fulfilling." - MCJ

One of the country's top plein air painters, Michael works in oil and pastel in the American Southwest, coastal Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. He has been an invited artist to many national plein air painting events over the years and has competed in challenging locations such as the Grand Canyon.

Elected a Master Pastellist by Pastel Artists Canada in 2008, he is a Signature Member of the American Impressionist Society and the Pastel Society of America as well as a juried member of Oil Painters of America. He is the author of Backpacker Painting: Outdoors with Oil & Pastel and Through a Painter's Brush: The American Southwest. A long-time contributor to The Pastel Journal and Contributing Editor for The Artist's Magazine, he lives, paints and teaches on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, and in Sedona, Arizona. Michael also specializes in teaching small-size plein air workshops in oil and pastel for the intermediate and advanced level painter and for painters desiring mentoring. (Click here for plein air painting workshops on Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Click here for plein air painting workshops in Sedona, Arizona. Click here for a full workshop schedule.)

Michael also has a large archive of tips and techniques for the plein air painter on his blog.

MPACMaster Pastellist, Pastel Artists Canada
AIS, Signature Member, American Impressionist Society
PSASignature MemberPastel Society of America
PSNMSignature Member, Pastel Society of New Mexico
Juried MemberOil Painters of America
Juried Member, Arizona Plein Air Painters
Member, Pastel Painters of Maine

FounderPlein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy
Founder, "Two Countries, One Bay" Open Studio Tour, Quoddy Artists Studio Tour
Charter MemberLandscape Artists International

Faculty Member, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, AZ


Michael is honored to be named a Gamblin Dedicated Workshop Instructor. Using only the finest art materials in his paintings, he uses Gamblin Artists Colors and is versed in these products and their application.


Michael has several NEW videos and books available at North Light Shop 


Michael Chesley JohnsonMichael always wanted to be an artist. His mother loves to tell the story of how he once used crayons to color the image on their black-and-white TV set. Wishing to help this eager student, she purchased a drawing kit, Jon Gnagy's Learn to Draw, based on the popular 1950s TV series. Michael spent hours reproducing illustrations in Gnagy's instruction book in charcoal.

When a teenager, he drew "Winky" — the fawn in the Famous Artist's School matchbook ad — and although the ad said no salesman would call, one did. In critiquing Michael's work, he said he had promise, but he was too young to enroll. Living in the country where there were no museums or galleries, Michael spent endless hours poring over books filled with Old Master reproductions and copying them in oil.

Michael also has always loved Nature. Fond of taking long walks through wood and field, during high school he read all of Thoreau, including the entire 14-volume edition of his journals. Michael joined the Thoreau Society at an early age and even wrote an article for their newsletter. Thoreau inspired him to start his own journal, which he has now kept for over 40 years. This love of nature finally led Michael to plein air painting. His first outdoor painting experience was in college, where he painted the river in the school's botanical garden, imitating Monet's Impressionist style. Today, the wild and beautiful occupy the core of his work, with the occasional human element added for contrast.

"Since then," Michael says, "it has been a long road, full of detours, roadside attractions and pitstops. But I've never stopped and I still love it."

Michael continues to paint in oil and pastel, always choosing the most beautiful locations. Currently, he splits his time between Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, and Sedona, Arizona, in the American Southwest. But he is always on the lookout for the next beautiful spot.

Michael once asked his mentor, Ann Templeton, if getting an MFA was important. Ann, a very successful artist and teacher, who herself came from a place far removed from fine art, said, "Not at all." So instead, he has pursued his own self-styled MFA by taking workshops with the best artists and reading widely and painting every day. Today, Michael's award-winning work is in both corporate and private collections. He also teaches workshops throughout North America and is a Contributing Editor for The Artist's Magazine.

Michael's latest book, Through a Painter's Brush: The American Southwest - Painting in the Four Corners States, was released in July 2012.


Curriculum Vitae

** Featured in The Artist's Magazine, September 2013**

Signature Member:

  • American Impressionist Society
  • Pastel Artists Canada (Master Pastellist)
  • Pastel Society of America
  • Pastel Society of New Mexico

Founding/Charter Member:

  • Founder, Two Countries Art Tour (annual Canada/US tour with 60+ artists)
  • Founder, Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy
  • Founder, Quoddy Artists Studio Tour
  • Charter Member, Landscape Artists International

Member:

  • Oil Painters of America  (Juried)

Awards

  • Award of Merit (Judge, Jim McVicker), Sedona Plein Air Festival, Sedona AZ 2014
  • Honorable Mention, First Castine Plein Air Festival, Castine ME 2014
  • Merit Award, Montague Plein Air Festival, Montague, Prince Edward Island 2014
  • Honorable Mention, First Castine Plein Air Festival, Castine ME 2013
  • Honorable Mention, Annual Juried Show, Arizona Plein Air Painters, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, AZ 2013
  • Honorable Mention, Fall Juried Members Show, Arizona Pastel Artists Association, Manheim Gallery, Cottonwood AZ 2010
  • Outstanding Genre Award, 4th Annual Northeast National Pastel Exhibition, Old Forge, NY 2008
  • Oil Painters of America Shirl Smithson Scholarship in April 2008
  • Scottsdale Artists School Scholarship in February 2007
  • Diane Townsend Award, Pastel Painters of Maine National Show 2006
  • Fourth Place, Pastel Society of New Mexico Juried National Show 2004
  • Daler-Rowney Award of Merit, Pastel Society of the Southwest Juried Membership Show 2004

Outdoor Painting Events

  • Montague Plein Air Invitational, Prince Edward Island 2014 (Invited Artist)
  • Invited Artist, Castine Plein Air Festival, Castine, Maine (2013, 2014)
  • Plein Air Magazine 1st Annual Plein Air Exhibition & Expo, Las Vegas 2012 (Invited Artist)
  • Plein Air Invitational at Zion National Park, 2011 (Invited Artist)
  • Grand Canyon Celebration of the Arts, "Plein Air on the Rim" Invitational 2011, 2012, 2014 (Invited Artist)
  • Plein Air Southwest 2011, Southwest Gallery, Dallas TX (Juried)
  • Invited Artist, Sedona Plein Air Festival 2006-2011,2014 AZ  (Invited Artist)
  • Invited Artist, Plein Air New Mexico Paintout 2005, NM Invited Artist)

Galleries

  • Green Drake Gallery, Millheim, PA
  • Friar's Bay Studio Gallery, Welshpool NB
  • Pumphouse Studio Gallery, Sedona AZ
  • Artists Retreat Studios & Gallery, Lubec ME
  • Symbiosis Gallery, St Andrews NB

Michael has been represented by galleries in :

  • New Mexico (Santa Fe, San Patricio, Cloudcroft, Ruidoso)
  • Colorado (Ouray)
  • Arizona (Tubac, Sedona)
  • Maine (Lubec, Bar Harbor)

Collections

  • Gamblin Artists Colors, Inc.
  • Nature Trust of New Brunswick (Canada)
  • Lawrence Academy, Groton MA
  • artcenter Traverse City, Traverse City MI
  • University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Northern Indiana Pastel Society / South Bend Museum of Art (Indiana)

Solo Shows

  • January-March 2015: Sedona City Hall, Sedona, AZ
  • January-March 2015: Mayor's Office, Sedona, AZ
  • July/August 2014: "Fifty Paintings" - Roosevelt-Campobello International Park, Campobello Island, NB
  • July/August 2012:  Sunbury Shores Art & Nature Centre, St Andrews, NB
  • October/November 2009:  Lubec Memorial Library, Lubec ME
  • March 2005: The Gallery, Roswell Fine Arts League, Roswell NM
  • January/February 2004:  Hubbard Museum of the American West, Ruidoso NM
  • November 2003:  Townsend Library, New Mexico State University
  • August 2003:  Eagle Ranch, Alamogordo NM
  • January 2003:  Alamogordo Public Library
  • January 2002: Catamount Arts, St Johnsbury VT

Group Shows

  • November 2014-January 2015: Grand Canyon Celebration of Art "Plein Air on the Rim" Exhibition, Kolb Studio, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
  • October 2014: 10th Annual Sedona Plein Air Invitational, Sedona, AZ
  • July-November 2014: Verde River Exhibition, Phoenix Aiport Museum, Phoenix, AZ
  • Spring 2014: Architecture of the Southwest, The Phippen Museum, Prescott AZ.
  • September-November 2013: American Impressionist Society Annual National Juried Exhibition, Gallery M, Charleston SC (Apple Tree & Fir, 16x20 oil)
  • August 2013: “Abstractions of Nature,” Two-Person Show, Mulholland Market Gallery, Lubec ME
  • July 2013:  "A River Runs Thru Us," Verde Artist Challenge Show, Manheim Gallery, Cottonwood AZ
  • April 2013:  Invited Artist to Sedona Area Guild of Artists (SAGA) Annual Members Exhibition, Sedona Art Museum, Sedona AZ
  • March 2013:  Arizona Plein Air Painters Annual Juried Members Show, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona AZ
  • January 2013:  Sedona Arts Center Featured Artists Show, Sedona AZ
  • December 2012: Sedona Arts Center Member's Holiday Show, Sedona AZ
  • September-November 2012:  Grand Canyon Celebration of Art "Plein Air on the Rim" Exhibition, Kolb Studio, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
  • March 2012:  Sedona Arts Center Annual Juried Members' Show, Sedona AZ
  • October-November 2011:  12th Annual American Impressionist Exhibition, Carmel, CA
  • October 2011:  7th Annual Sedona Plein Air Invitational, Sedona, AZ
  • September-November 2011:  Plein Air Invitational at Zion National Park, UT
  • September-November 2011:  Grand Canyon Celebration of Art "Plein Air on the Rim" Exhibition, Kolb Studio, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
  • August 2011:  Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre, St Andrews, NB (two-man show)
  • July 2011:  "Pastel by Invite," Invitational Exhibition, School House Gallery, Qualicum Beach, BC
  • June-July 2011:  "Breath of Fresh Air," Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy Annual Exhibition, Next Door Gallery, Eastport ME
  • April 2011:  Arizona Pastel Artists Association Members Exhibition, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona AZ
  • April 2011:  Arizona Plein Air Painters Members Exhibition, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona AZ
  • April 2011:  Plein Air Southwest Exhibition, Southwest Gallery, Dallas TX
  • February 2011: Faculty Exhibition, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona AZ
  • November 2010:  Fall Juried Member Show, Arizona Pastel Artists Association, Manheim Gallery, Cottonwood AZ
  • November 2010:  Fall Member Show, Sedona Visual Artists Coalition, Tlaquepaque Plaza, Sedona AZ
  • August 2010-September 2011:  Acadia Invitational II, Argosy Gallery, Bar Harbor, ME
  • June/Sept 2010:  Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy Annual Exhibition, Saint John Arts Centre, Saint John NB
  • October, 2010: Sedona Plein Air Festival, Sedona, AZ  (Juried)
  • January, 2010: Scottsdale Artist's School "Best & Brightest" Exhibition, Scottsdale AZ (Juried)
  • October, 2009: Sedona Plein Air Festival, Sedona, AZ  (Juried)
  • September/October, 2009: New Brunswick Museum, Saint John NB (invitational exhibtion)
  • August, 2009: Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre, St Andrews, New Brunswick NB
  • June/July 2009:  Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy Annual Exhibition, Lubec ME
  • Oct/Nov 2008:  2008 Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition, Richland Fine Art, Nashville TN (Juried)
  • October 2008: Sedona  Plein Air Festival, Sedona, AZ (Juried)
  • August, 2008: Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy Annual Exhibition, Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre, St Andrews, New Brunswick NB
  • May-June 2008: Northeastern National Pastel Exhibition, Arts Center/Old Forge, Old Forge, NY (2 paintings juried in)
  • May 2008: "Something Fishy" Exhibition, Maine Art Gallery, Wiscasset, ME  (Juried)
  • 2007/2008:  LAI/IPAP World Tour. Orlando, FL; Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, BC; Estes Park, CO; Door County, WI; Newburgh NY; St Augustine FL
  • December, 2007: Oil Painters of America Annual Eastern Regional Juried Exhibition, Naples FL  (Juried)
  • November, 2007: Pastel Society of New Mexico Annual National Juried Exhibition, Albuquerque NM  (Juried)
  • October, 2007: Sedona Plein Air Festival, Sedona, AZ  (Juried)
  • October, 2007: Connecticut Pastel Society Annual National Juried Exhibition, Connecticut   (Juried)
  • August, 2007: Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre, St Andrews, New Brunswick
  • 2007: Paint America "Paint the Parks" Mini Top 50   (Juried)
  • July - August 2007: Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy Group Exhibition, Lubec Landmarks, Lubec ME
  • October, 2006: Sedona Plein Air Festival, Sedona, AZ   (Juried)
  • July-August 2006: Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre, St-Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. Three-person show.
  • June, 2006: Pastel Painters of Maine National Juried Exhibition, Heartwood College of Art, Kennebunk, Maine  (Juried)
  • November 2005: Pastel Society of New Mexico Juried National Show, Albuquerque, NM  (Juried)
  • August - September 2005: Plein Air New Mexico Members Paintout and Exhibition, The Mission Gallery, Grants, New Mexico  (Juried)
  • May 2005: American Impressionist Society Members Exhibition, Nichols Taos Fine Art Gallery, Taos, New Mexico  (Juried)
  • April 2005: Masterworks of New Mexico Exhibition, Albuquerque, NM  (Juried)
  • November 2004: Pastel Society of the Southwest Membership Exhibition, Richardson, TX  (Juried)
  • November 2004: Pastel Society of New Mexico Juried National Show, Albuquerque, NM (three paintings were juried in)  (Juried)
  • March 2004: Pastel Society of America Invitational, Dunedin FL  (Juried)
  • March/April 2003:  Mesilla Valley 8th Regional Exhibition Las Cruces NM   (Juried)
  • November 2002: Pastel Society of New Mexico National Pastel Painting Exhibition, State Fairgrounds, Albuquerque, NM  (Juried)

Residencies

  • Vermont Studio Center, April 2002

Books

  • Through a Painter's Brush: The American Southwest  (Friar's Bay Studio Gallery Publishing, Welshpool NB 2012)
  • Paint Sedona! Plein Air Painter's Guide to Sedona, Arizona. (Pumphouse Studio Gallery, Sedona AZ. 2010)
  • Backpacker Painting: Outdoors with Oil & Pastel. (Friar's Bay Studio Gallery Publishing, Welshpool NB. 2008)
  • Through a Painter's Brush: A Year on Campobello Island. (Friar's Bay Studio Gallery Publishing, Welshpool NB. 2007)
  • The Art of Ann Templeton: A Step Beyond. (Fresco Books, Albuquerque, NM. 2005)

Publications as Subject / Artwork Included In

  • "Crowdfunding for Artists," Professional Artist, June/July 2014
  • Bloomfield, Maureen.  "Poetry of Earth," Featured Artist, The Artist's Magazine, September 2013.
  • Bahr, Bob.  "My Favorite Place to Paint," OutdoorPainter.com (Plein Air Magazine blog), June 2013.
  • Haas, Cherie. "In the Frame," The Artist's Magazine.  April 2012.  Interviewed about framing tips.
  • Griffel, Lois.  Painting Impressionist Color.  2011.
  • Spotlight Column, Sedona Monthly, May 2011.
  • "You Can Take it With You," The Pastel Journal, August 2010.
  • Feature Interview in Canadian Brushstrokes Magazine, Sept/Oct 2008.
  • "Award-winning Artist Donates Painting to Nature Trust," The Saint Croix (NB) Courier, 15 July 2008.
  • "Award-winning Painter Releases New Book," The Lubec Light (ME), July 2007.
  • Johnson, Michael Chesley. "Magic in the Maritimes." The Pastel Journal, Dec 2007
  • "Art in the Borderlands," Bangor (ME) Daily News, 11 September 2007.
  • "Creative Free Trade," Telegraph-Journal (NB), 15 September 2007.
  • "Lubec, Campobello, Inspire Painters," The Saint Croix (NB) Courier, 14 August 2007.
  • Templeton, Ann. Color and Beyond. Albuqueruqe, NM: Fresco Books, 2007.
  • Featured Artist, International Plein Air Painters web site, January 2007
  • Interview, Lubec Light (Lubec ME) July 2006
  • Interview, Quoddy Tides (Eastport ME) July 2006
  • The Illustrated Word, Episcopal Church & The Visual Arts newsletter, January 2006; March, 2006
  • Cover artist, University of Colorado-Boulder Directory, 2006
  • The Illustrated Word , Episcopal Church & The Visual Arts Newsletter, December, 2005
  • Featured artist, INK Magazine (cover artist) March 2005
  • Painting: "Fog Rolling In, Hamilton Cove Beach," American Artist, March 2005
  • Painting: "Fog Rolling In, Hamilton Beach Cove," Plein Air Magazine, January 2005
  • Cover artist & Interview, Stepping Out (Socorro NM) Jan-Feb 2004
  • Interview, Vamonos!, Ruidoso News (Ruidoso NM) January 9, 2004
  • Workshop Article, Vamonos!, Ruidoso News (Ruidoso NM) January 2, 2004
  • Interview, Mountain Monthly (Cloudcroft NM), March 2003
  • Interview, Caledonian Record (St Johnsbury VT), January 2002

Publications as Author on Art-Related Subjects (click here for complete list)

  • Articles regularly in The Artist's Magazine (2004-present); named Contributing Editor in 2010
  • Articles regularly in The Pastel Journal (1999-present) as Contributing Writer
  • Articles  in Watercolor Artist magazine (2006-2007)
  • Articles regularly for Mid-Tones and HighLights, Pastel Society of New Mexico newsletter (2005-2006)
  • Reprint of profile on Bob Rohm in American Artist's Landscape Highlights magazine (Fall, 2005)
  • Excerpt from The Art of Ann Templeton, Southwest Art, July 2005
  • A Step Beyond: The Art of Ann Templeton, Fresco Books 2005
  • Profile of Artist Bob Rohm, American Artist, November 2003

Workshops Taught (2001-Present)

  • Worldwide (2012-present):  Plein Air Basics online course for Artist's Network University
  • US (2001-present):  Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah; Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio; Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Maryland; Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania
  • Canada (2006-present): New Brunswick, Ontario

Michael has taught at workshop centers and for art groups such as the following: Green Drake Gallery (Milheim, PA); Art Barn (Valparaiso, IN); Acadia Workshop Center (Southwest Harbor, ME); Sedona Arts Center (Sedona, AZ); Old Forge Arts Center (Old Forge, NY); Sunbury Shores Art & Nature Centre (St Andrews, NB); Pastel Artists Canada (Burlington, ON); New Hampshire Plein Air (Goffstown, NH); Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod (Barnstable, MA); York Art Association (York, ME): Springfield Area Pastelists (Springfield, IL); Los Reyes Gallery (Tubac, AZ); Bay River Art Guild (Daphne, AL); Roswell Museum (Roswell, NM); Hubbard Museum of the American West (Riudoso, NM); ArtCenter Traverse City (Traverse City, MI); Lawrence Academy (Lawrence, MA); Vermont Pastel Society (Montpelier, VT); Cloudcroft Art Workshops (Cloudcroft, NM); Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (Baltimore, MD); Water Street Studios (Batavia, IL); Eastport Arts Center (Eastport, ME); Pastel Society of El Paso (El Paso, TX); Ellis County Art Association (Waxahachie, TX); Middlebury Studio School (Middlebury, VT); Toledo Artists Club (Toledo, OH).

Lectures/Demos/Presentations

  • SAGA (Sedona Area Guild of Artists), "3 Masters Speak," Sedona AZ November 2013
  • Spectral Arts Painters, Mesa AZ, January 2011
  • Vermont Pastel Society, Montpelier VT, October 2009
  • International Association of Pastel Societies Biennial Convention (Albuquerque NM) May 2009
  • Arizona Pastel Painters Association (Phoenix AZ) March 2009
  • Pastel Society of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, April 2005

Shows Judged/Juried

  • Northwest Pastel Society National Exhibition May 2015 (Juror of Entry/Awards Judge)
  • Pastel Artists of Eastern Canada Annual Exhibition October 2013 (one of three jurors))
  • Southern Appalachian Artists Guild National Show October 2013 (Juror of Entry/Awards Judge)
  • Pastel Artists Canada Annual Members Juried Show August 2013 (Juror of Entry/Awards Judge)
  • Great Lakes Pastel Society Annual Members Show June 2013 (Juror of Entry/Judge of Awards)
  • Jacksonville Arborteum "Brush with Nature" March 2013 (Juror of Entry)
  • Pastel Society of New Hampshire, July 2011 (Juror of Entry)
  • Sedona Arts Center Members Show, February 2011 (Juror of Entry)
  • Sedona Arts Center Gallery, 2010, 2011 (Juror of Entry)
  • Pastel Society of El Paso Annual Exhibition, El Paso NY May 2009 (Juror of Awards)
  • 5th Annual Northeast National Pastel Exhibition, Old Forge NY May 2009 (Juror of Awards)

Other

  • August 2011-present.  One of three tutors selected for The Artist's Network ( The Artist's Magazine and The Pastel Journal) critique service.