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About

Hello My name is Abra.

Abra Johnson lives in Atlanta, and after a long career in Graphic Design, picked up painting. She practices Encaustic as well as traditional Oil Painting – focusing on encaustic in the summer months when she can work outdoors for ventilation, and oils during the cooler months of the year. She has a BFA as well as a minor in art history, which sparked her interest with encaustic, as it’s one of the oldest painting methods. Her favorite art is the style used by Flemish painters, and the Byzantine encaustics of Egypt and Rome. 

Her favorite subjects to paint are horses and still life, but she also paints many other subject matters and doesn’t limit herself to just one.

Abra grew up owning a rescued wild Mustang named Indian Dream Danser (with an ‘s’). She considered Danse her favorite family member and emotional crutch. Danse lived for 35 years and was one tough nugget. I admired her for that.

Every mustang, free or rescued, deserves a little girl (and little girls at heart) that loves them. 

About

Hello My name is Abra.

Abra Johnson lives in Atlanta, and after a long career in Graphic Design, picked up painting. She practices Encaustic as well as traditional Oil Painting – focusing on encaustic in the summer months when she can work outdoors for ventilation, and oils during the cooler months of the year. She has a BFA as well as a minor in art history, which sparked her interest with encaustic, as it’s one of the oldest painting methods. Her favorite art is the style used by Flemish painters, and the Byzantine encaustics of Egypt and Rome. 

Her favorite subjects to paint are horses and still life, but she also paints many other subject matters and doesn’t limit herself to just one.

Abra grew up owning a rescued wild Mustang named Indian Dream Danser (with an ‘s’). She considered Danse her favorite family member and emotional crutch. Danse lived for 35 years and was one tough nugget. I admired her for that.

Every mustang, free or rescued, deserves a little girl (and little girls at heart) that loves them. 

About

Artist Statement

Artist Statement (Oils)

I started working with oils after I’d been an encaustic artist for many years. As an encaustic artist I am always pushing the medium to work like oils, so my transition to oils was very easy and seamless. When I became a full-time artist, I was looking for a medium that could get me through the colder months when working outside with wax was impossible.

I work in a style mixture of direct and indirect oil painting, both layering parts slowly over time, as well as blocking parts in one sitting. If I am painting a boat for example, the soft background and water will be indirect, while the sail or masting, more direct and all at once.

I most enjoy painting as precisely as I can. I struggle with anxiety, and this is how I lose my frustrations and forget where and what I’m dealing with for a short period of time. If I’m hyper-focused, I’m happy. I paint mostly from photographic reference and enjoy the challenge of copying what I see. My husband calls me a printer.

I also enjoy the challenge of painting oils without any solvents. I’m as much about the materials as I am about what I’m painting. I like a clean workspace as much as I like a clean method of making art.

Artist Statement (Encaustic)

Encaustic wax is frustrating, complicated, and doesn’t always go your way. For many it may be too frustrating to work with, but for me it’s exactly what I need. I suffer from severe anxiety. My anxiety is somewhere in the arena of OCD but manifests as a fear of losing self-control. I have a lot of panic attacks that often come out of nowhere and happen for almost no reason. You can imagine this makes doing almost anything outside of the home very challenging and mentally exhausting.

This medium helps me deal with that anxiety—helps me face this fear of losing control and stability, especially when it comes to hot wax painting. Wax can’t be perfect as much as I try to make it. It’s not always going to behave the same way from one day to the next. If the room is cooler one day, the paint may harden on my brush before I get the chance to place a stroke, or it may clump in the most inopportune place. You must think fast and feel, place each line quickly and decisively and be okay with the outcome. You must mold yourself to this media and practice acceptance or it will literally burn you. This is my form of exposure therapy, and at times, tires me quickly.

Despite the task, though, I enjoy allowing my controlling nature to have a place here by creating more complex Encaustic paintings just as you would from other media such as oil and acrylic. Many artists that practice this sort of encaustic often say they are using it in the ‘historical way,’ or rather the way it was originally practiced, which was realism. Encaustic wax realism must be glazed in layers, blended differently, and can’t be pushed around to form gradients in the same way oils or acrylics can, so the attention to coloring is quite intense. Its texture is rich, glossy, and so much more interesting in person than any other media I have experienced.

Brief Encaustic History

Greeks used encaustic wax to paint loved one’s faces on wooden caskets because it would adhere and withstand moisture well. Their paintings were realistic and formed meticulously one stroke at a time. These paintings are extremely archival, with an ability to outlive the wood itself. In my many, many art history classes, these were the works that fascinated me the most and ultimately planted the seed to my creative process many years later.

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