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Connecting with other Artists

Johanna McWeeney

is an artist and writer, living in Devon, in South West England. Here she writes

about the progress of her work....

Building Bridges

Painting, for me, is about making connections. About finding a way to express and understand certain feelings, subconscious processes and emotions. It’s a bridge between my need for self-expression and my desire to communicate.

I think painting softens my experience of the world, because whatever I am feeling, I can let it go in a gentle exploration of colour, form and texture. And it was only when I realised this was what I was doing — what I needed to do — that I really found my style.

What Does Pander Think

One of the most important aspects of my way of painting is the narrative. I paint in a way I identify as intuitive. Though it’s not “intuitive art” in the way some artists describe it. More, I begin only with an idea, or a feeling, that needs to be developed. Although I express myself in a visual way, I’m much more kinaesthetic in my approach to life. I feel my way through, and this transmits into my work.

Don't Surrender your Loneliness

So, I begin with an idea, a shape or a feeling, and I begin to tell its story. Sometimes I use words within my paintings. At other times I leave the story to be interpreted. Not in an attempt to be enigmatic. I believe it’s important that, although we all have many shared experiences, I don’t impose my own experience on someone else. So, the story within the painting becomes a bridge, a vehicle for the viewer to identify and experience his or her own experience and feelings.

The Value of Things

When I say I paint intuitively, what I mean is that I begin with an idea, and I listen for the next idea. I don’t plan the work out beforehand, except on very rare occasions. When my work is “planned,” it’s more that I managed to line up all my ideas before I begin, rather than that I place any intellectual effort into the process.

I begin with one mark, one shape, colour or mood, and as I paint, I listen. When something new comes into my head, I paint it. In The Value of Things, the central dog was the starting point, and all of the narrative around that came, one object at a time. In my painting Horae, Goddess of Summer, there was no intention at the outset to include the fox cub. But I listen, and it seemed a fox was needed.

Horae, Goddess of Summer

My work is also heavily symbolic. Sometimes I choose the symbolism. For instance, I’ve included the origami crane in several paintings. Origami cranes have a heavy symbolism around peace, hope and love. But what’s interesting to me is that often an idea will come — whether it’s an object or an animal. Only once I have included it in the work do I discover its symbolism — and its symbolism always helps me tell the story. I use self-portraiture a lot, but it’s always an emotional portrait — a starting point — not meant to be a figurative representation. A little like Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, I find freedom in my fictitious people.

Why should I cry for you?

So, I feel my way through my work, and that is how my style has developed. It’s definitely a spiritual process for me, heavily connected with my meditation practice. Which is why I so often include elements of iconography. The work isn’t religious. But it’s all about connection, about communication and about love.

Earth Angel




Recent and upcoming group exhibitions include Van Der Plas Gallery, New York; Espacio Gallery, London (with The Artist’s Pool); 54, The Gallery, London (with The Artist’s Pool); King House Gallery, Stratford Upon Avon. Featured in N-Y Art News and as one of Destig Magazine’s “best artists of 2020”.

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