Frankie Johnson: Fresh Impressions

NOAPS Johnson A Pink Dance 10x8 oil  “A Pink Dance”, 10×8, Oil, Winner of Best Use of Light and Color from the 2019 NOAPS Spring Online International Exhibition.

The fresh color draws our attention, and as we delve into the painting, we see more than at first glance.  The active brushwork adds energy to the dancers; the gestures create the narrative, and the undeveloped areas trigger our imagination.  The warm color palette is offset by neutrals that bring the dancers forward, but keep us looking into the background for more.

noaps-johnson-hot-steamy-summer-cooking-12-x-16-oil-private-collection.jpg  “Hot and Steamy Summer Cooking”, 12×16, Oil, Private Collection

Frankie Johnson is an artist on a path of discovery.  Painting on her own until her 20’s, she began taking classes that widened her scope of creativity, bringing to her intuitive painting a confident, practiced hand.  After taking workshops and working with her mentor, Bonnie Anderson, Johnson began teaching and cultivating that same creativity in others.

NOAPS Johnson The Waiter 8 x 10 Oil, Private Collection  “The Waiter”, 10×8, Oil, Private Collection

Working in an impressionistic style, Johnson finds inspiration just about everywhere.  She enjoys scenery, figures and still life, and is “constantly squinting and looking at scenes to see how much impact they might have in a painting”.  She is also inspired by many contemporary artists, namely Richard Schmid, Nancy Guzik, Mark Boedges, among others.

NOAPS Johnson Collage Maker 16 x 20 Oil, Private Collection  “Collage Maker”, 20×16, Oil, Private Collection

Johnson uses a variety of materials, including canvas, various types of boards, both gessoed and linen.  Her palette consists of warm and cool tones of each color: cadmium red light, alizarin crimson deep, ultramarine blue deep, cerulean blue, (sometimes cobalt blue), viridian, sap green, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow light, raw sienna, dioxazine purple, thalo red rose, burnt sienna, burnt umber and titanium white.  She begins by toning the canvas, using a variety of colors to assess the effect on subsequent layers.  She will then sketch in the composition, block in the darks, and indicate the lights. Next she paints the most intense colors, and working around those, makes sure to keep the importance of those first notes in the final painting.

noaps-johnson-pin-cushion-in-progress.jpg  NOAPS Johnson pin cushion in progress 2  NOAPS Johnson Pin Cushion & Thread 8 x 10 Oil, Private Collection  Progression of “Pin Cushion and Thread”, 8×10, Oil, Private Collection

Johnson currently runs her own Fine Art School in Lake Zurich, IL, which she has done for 25 years.  The school not only has a staff of artists teaching regularly, but also brings in artists from around the world to teach workshops.  Her goal is to continue the tradition of teaching and passing on the joy of creating in a positive environment, just as she was given when she began to take classes.

As a teacher and artist, Johnson encourages artists to continue to take classes and workshops from artists whose work they admire.  Building on “fundamentals of drawing and structured procedures”, painting regularly, making mistakes and problem solving helps to build our confidence as artists.

To view more work by Frankie Johnson, visit her website at  Her work is represented by Fine Line Design in Ephrain, WI, and the Castle Gallery in Fort Wayne, IN.

To view more artwork from the 2019 NOAPS Spring Online International, visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director


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