“You have to paint who you are,” offers Eileen Walden Johnson as she adds just the right amount of Cerulean blue to a painting she is working on at her bright and open studio gallery at the Promenade at Bonita Bay. Eileen Walden Johnson is her art. Joyful, sophisticated, intelligent, vibrant, unique and warm, describe both the art and the artist.
“My style would probably be nonobjective abstract,” explains Johnson. But the abstract style that wins her awards in almost every juried show she enters, evolved from criticism filtered through Eileen’s positive outlook. The daughter of an accomplished regional landscape artist Roy Walden, Eileen began her artistic career painting landscapes as her father had. “My father taught me to take notice of the world around me, always drawing attention to unusual shapes of rocks and trees and the vibrant colors of sunsets and flowers. He passed away when I was young, but instilled in me and my siblings his love of nature, music and art,” says Johnson. It was during a workshop at Notre Dame, that her landscape painting met with unexpected criticism. “My professor told me, ‘this is great, now throw it away and do something completely different’. I was shocked, but thought why not try something new,” explains Eileen. Eileen tried abstract painting and found the perfect medium for expression.
“Eileen is bright and energetic and so is her work,” explains Susan Bridges, President of the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs. “Her paintings are joyous and lyrical. People who tell me they don’t like or understand abstract paintings like Eileen’s work, they have an immediate connection when they see her art.” It is almost impossible not to love Eileen’s work.
Although her work has universal appeal, Eileen does not paint with that intent; she paints who she is and what she loves. Eileen credits her father and the artists Kandinsky, Jonas Gerard and Bob Burridge as her inspiration. “I took Bob Burridge’s class at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs and it taught me so much about opening up and relaxing which improved my work immensely,” explains Eileen.
Robert Burridge is offering the workshop, “Larger and Looser; The New Master’s Program for the Post Modern Painter,” again this year at CFABS from February 13-17, 2011. The Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs suggests that anyone interested sign up early as Bob’s classes sell out very quickly.
Eileen’s involvement with the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs has included volunteering and taking classes which is where she met the two artists, Ursula Cappelletti and Barbara Brenton who share studio #156 with her at the Promenade. Eileen lights up when she talks about her connection with the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs and the Artists Studios at the Promenade.
“I love the Art Walks, it is like a big party,” says Johnson of the event held at the Promenade on the last Thursday of each month. “Barbara loves to cook so she makes lots of fancy hors d’oeuvres and we have a great space to watch people dance to the live entertainment that the promenade offers during the Art Walks.” The next Art Walk at the artist studios at the promenade is on Thursday, August 25, 2011 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Art Walks are free, open to the public and include wine, light-hors d’oeuvres and live music. The Artist Studio’s are open Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during the summer.
Who: The Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs
What: The Artist Studios at the Promenade
When: Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Art Walk- Thursday August25, 2011, 4:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.)
Where: Promenade at Bonita Bay, 26811 S Bay Dr, Bonita Springs, Florida
Join the Center for the Arts for the first time between May 1 and September 30, 2011 and receive a free 4-, 5-, or 6-week class to be used by December 31, 2011. The Center for the Arts offers this promotion for first time members. Call the Center for the Arts at 239-495-8989 for more information.
A full list of Center for the Arts classes is available online at www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling 495-8989.