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Gallery

Big paintings of imposing mountain ranges made from cornices of thick paint, ridges lightly shadowed, and humans hidden in the snow.

“Palisades” by Elisa Johns is on view through Nov. 3, 2012, at Kasia Kay Art Projects, Chicago.

Elisa Johns is a Los Angeles-based painter who received her MFA from the Claremont Graduate University and her BFA from the University of California, San Diego. Johns has exhibited across the United States, and in Europe. Her most recent solo shows include Devotion is Enough at Skew Gallery in Calgary and Huntress at Mike Weiss Gallery in New York. She has received critical acclaim from publications including Art in America, White Hot Magazine, and Beautiful/Decay.

All images © copyright the artist, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

TMN:

What is the last mountain you climbed?

Elisa Johns:

Mount Whitney.

TMN:

How does a new series begin for you?

Elisa Johns:

It starts with seeing something meaningful to me—a lake I just hiked to, a Rubens painting, a bird.

TMN:

Among the paintings in this show, which was the hardest to complete?

Elisa Johns:

“Feather Pass.” There were immediately passages of paint I became attached to and it’s scary to push yourself with a painting you don’t want to ruin.

TMN:

What does your studio look like?

Elisa Johns:

It’s an old courthouse so the space has a strange configuration. I like to paint in a nook beneath a skylight.

TMN:

Favorite household appliance?

Elisa Johns:

Immersion blender.

TMN:

Last time you stood in front of someone else’s painting that you didn’t understand?

Elisa Johns:

Well, it wasn’t a painting, but I just saw Charles Ray’s “Cyprus” at the Chicago Art Institute and although I understand the concept and the tree is beautiful, I don’t really get it. Maybe you don’t need to understand everything to appreciate it.

TMN:

Have you ever made a painting for a hedge-fund manager?

Elisa Johns:

No.

TMN:

Do you nap?

Elisa Johns:

Never.

TMN:

What master of color do you admire?

Elisa Johns:

Giorgione. He used such a vibrant palette and really innovated the use of translucent paint to build shimmering atmospheric color.

TMN:

Composer you’re most similar to, artistically?

Elisa Johns:

I completely relate to Vivaldi.

TMN:

What are you afraid of?

Elisa Johns:

Wind.

TMN:

What trait do you least like in yourself?

Elisa Johns:

Shyness.

TMN:

What are your steps to begin work each day?

Elisa Johns:

Get up, drink coffee, check the market, work out, make tea, turn on Howard Stern, mix paint.

TMN:

What trait do you most admire in your fellow Los Angelenos?

Elisa Johns:

Obliviousness.

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded The Morning News. He is the author of Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down and You Lost Me There. His next novel is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. More information can be found at his website. More by Rosecrans Baldwin