Artist Spotlight - Shawn Johnson

We've had great feedback on our Artist Spotlight's here on and we're excited to bring you another! One of the awesome things about has been the opportunity to connect with some amazing people all across the Eastern Shore. This community loves the arts and we think recognizing great art and artists in our area is an important part of developing a community. We recently had the privilege of catching up with artist/teacher/builder/tumbling instructor/husband Shawn Johnson (he really is a man of many talents!). My family has personally been blessed to have Shawn part of our lives as both a teacher and tumbling instructor to our children! Check out our conversation and learn more about Shawn...

Q: How did you get your start?

Way back before I was even an embryo, I’m pretty sure God had some kind of plan for my life that would involve art.  Any talent I have definitely came from him! My mother has a ton of artistic ability, so if it is possible to inherit art skills, she should get all the genetic credit for anything I have created. I guess that means God had a plan for my art even before my mother was born!  I have to look back that far for my beginning because I have been drawing ever since I can remember.  I truly believe it started before I ever picked up my first crayon!  

Q: What is special about the Eastern Shore and how does is come through your art?

I have lived my whole life here in Fairhope. Like anyone raised here, I can list a thousand memories that are tied to all the special places and events that occur on the Eastern Shore.  I can actually remember drawing a picture of the Fairhope Pier with fireworks exploding over it in kindergarten!  When the sun sets over the bay, I am always overwhelmed with the beauty of God’s artwork!  I know I’ll never be able to paint the perfection of His sunsets, but I can’t help but be inspired to try to capture the feeling of those moments.  Every person you see watching those sunsets and living in this place has their own memories, experiences, and feelings, but we all see the same beauty and it affects us all in our own way.  When I paint portraits of people from here, I often wonder who the people I’m trying to render really are, and I want to put some of that in the artwork.  Even though I’ll never know all their experiences, knowing something of the place they live helps me understand a piece of who they are.  

Q: Who, if any, are your biggest influences, and what attracts you most to them?

I have been influenced by every artist and painting I have ever seen!  Some have inspired me, many have humbled me, but there are those few who have truly touched my heart.  I am in awe of the artwork created by great artists of the past.  Michelangelo, Rafael, Rembrandt,  the list goes on and on. Hundreds of years ago these artists created true art that contains so much more than just a simple image. The thought and creativity they used ecplises so much of what we call art today. Looking at their work often makes me wonder if we truly have grown as a thinking  society, or if we are just living off of the ideas and creativity of those who came before us? 

I also find inspiration in works by Georgia Okeefe, Salvador Dali, and M.C. Escher.  Each of their styles are very different, but they all thought outside the box and created truly original art.  

One of the artists who has truly touched my heart is local artist Ricky Trione. There are great artists who will always be remembered for the images they created,  and then there are great artists who’s heart and soul are greater than any image they could ever put on canvas.  Ricky Trione’s artwork touches everyone who see’s it, but who he is as a person can inspire and change you! 

Q: Art seems like a dream not a career to some people, but a lot of times that’s not the case at all. How have you found ways to use your gift and still make strides toward it being a career?

There are hundreds of ways to make a career out of artistic talent. I chose to paint. I do not foresee great riches from this choice!  I do sell paintings and I have been commissioned a number of times to create artwork,  but if I were feeding myself with the money earned from this I would be a much smaller person!  The career I believe God intended for me all along was to be a teacher.   I’ve been teaching art at Fairhope Middle School for about 7 years. Teaching children Will drain the life out of you!  It will also change you. Then, when you least expect it, it only takes one child letting you know you made a difference, and all the reserves of life you thought were running dry will be filled to overflowing! I give God the credit for anything good I may have done for any of these kids. And I thank Him for how these children have changed my life and my heart!   

Q: Ok, most important question of the day:  favorite coffee shop or restaurant on the Eastern Shore...?

There are a ton of great places to eat on the Eastern Shore,  but I’m gonna have to say my favorite place is Panini Pete’s.  Great food and Great people!  

Q: What is something your art fans may not know about you?

Little known fact about me that people who only see my art may not know….. I have been a gymnastics and tumbling coach for over 25 years.  Whenever I’m not at school teaching art,  I’m still in the gym coaching tumbling at Next Level in Daphne. About 8 years ago I thought I would try to slow life down a bit and start teaching art instead of coaching so much... Ha! Now I seem to be doing both!  

Q: Where can we find your work and more info about you?

I have artwork hanging in a few places around town, but the best way to see some of my work is my Facebook page:  Artwork by Shawn Johnson.   

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