The strength of a human soul is not unyielding steel .
It is the resilience of wildflowers, fragile petals in the sunlight.
Fields of color on display, filled with joy and life
At autumn’s end, where drifts of flowers once swayed like waves,
Winter follows, freezing the bare ground,
Yet beneath the frost, small seeds of hope await.
Only time can nurture them to break the barren surface
Lacy green tendrils of newfound energy surge and blossom.
The sun and the flowers have returned
Resting, emerging, and blooming
This is the natural rhythm of human endurance.
Oil on Canvas
18 x 24
I painted this allegorical figure as a response to the healing process from a very serious ankle break I endured in late 2019/early 2020. I went through surgery and was in a wheelchair from November to February. It was physically and emotionally very difficult beyond my ability to convey. As I regained a limited version of mobility I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I wanted to paint a symbolic representation of introspective, peaceful healing. I hope it will inspire the viewer to slow down and experience the meditative emotion the painting is conveying. I want to inspire and remind us to take care of ourselves. We have delicate emotions like wildflowers but we can renew, regrow, and return to a place of peace. We are capable of incredible amounts of healing.
Ko’olau Mountains After the Storm
30 x 48 inches
Oil on Canvas (framed)
I once was caught in a sudden rain storm during a hike. It’s my favorite hike, and I have done it many times over the years, and I always try to go on a dry day to stay safe. This time though, the crystal clear morning turned into a surprise squall. It was a short but very heavy storm. I watched in awe as the waterfalls swelled with the rains. I settled in at the highest part of the hill as the rain turned the trails below me into a small river. Thankfully I always hike with a backpack full of supplies for just such events, so I had a poncho to keep me and my camera dry and I knew to stay in place. I marvelled at the extreme beauty of the mountain, the waterfalls, and the orchids. After what must have been a half hour, the sun broke through the clouds, making the entire face of the mountain glitter with drops of rain.
The exhilaration of that vision has motivated two paintings so far. I painted a different version of this a few years ago, but then I saw two paintings of the Scottish mountains by Gustave Dore that inspired me to take on this subject a second time with a different focus, to try to capture the drama of the clouds and mists , and of the sun shimmering on the mountain.
This particular painting was in the background of an episode of Hawaii 5-0 back in October of 2019.
11 x 14
Oil on Gessoboard Panel (archival quality hardboard)
There are certain places on the planet that you are destined to “meet”. I love waterfalls, thus Umauma falls is one of my most treasured locations within Nature’s abundance of eye-candy.
I had an amazing dream about a triple-tier waterfall. I wanted to perhaps paint my dream, and I was looking around online to see if such a thing existed. I was stunned to see photos of this beautiful dream-like place. I put it on my “must-see” short list. A couple of years later, I had the opportunity to plan a family trip to go see it in person. The day we spent wandering the gardens, kayaking, and picnicking at the edge of the river is one of my favorite experiences. This is a small painting of the dreamlike perfection of this incredible waterfall system that cascades through the lush windward side of the Big Island.
The title (Infinite Flow) is an rough English translation of the Hawaiian name, “umauma”.
Acrylic and Copper/Zinc Leaf on Archival Panel
5 X 7 inches
I returned to an ongoing series of illuminated birds using metal leaf and inspiration from old manuscript art as a signal that these little native birds, ‘Akepa, are a rare treasure. Adorably enough, they are painted exactly life size, and both the male and female bird fit on this small painting area! The metal leaf decoration in the background is the type used for the most important texts of long ago, signifying how much people cared about the ideas they were painstakingly illuminating. I chose celtic birds as part of the motif, because I love the idea of showing birds in ancient pattern and in modern representational painting style in the same piece. Let’s try to keep these tiny birds alive by being aware of ways we can show support for conservation of their rare habitat in the upper elevations of Hawai’i island. They are a spectacular part of our native upper elevation forest, and as a bonus, the males are said to possess the most orange plumage of any bird type in the world.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO WAG
Creativity is an important element of our human existence, whether it is art, music, carpentry, writing, or another discipline, we are deeply enriched by the pursuit of mastery in any craft. We do not have to achieve virtuoso levels to benefit from the time we spend creating. In fact, it is best if we celebrate the small gains in our skills. I believe deeply in the emotional value of flexing our creative muscles. I also believe that if we share these pursuits with friends and take time to be mentors, it leads to a full and rich life full of interesting, wonderful, talented people! We are all keepers of the same creative flame, expressing universal concepts in a multitude of unique ways.
The friendships I have developed in the art realm here within WAG and AHA are important to me far beyond any professional connection. Many of the talented artists on Oahu are among my closest friends, and I met so many of them through WAG and AHA! My main motivation for organizing this site is as a thank you to my friends in the Oahu art community. This year has been particularly hard, and I have received incredible amounts of assistance and kindness from my fellow WAG artists! The aloha spirit is adundant in this community. I am so grateful for you all! Thank you!
After living in a variety of regions on the mainland, Wendy settled with her husband and two daughters surrounded the mountains of Kailua. Among the beauty of the lush forests, sheer mountains, and gorgeous beaches of the windward side, Wendy has found a deep sense of peace and inspiration. Her connection to the land, the ocean, and their natural inhabitants motivates her to capture and share their beauty. She hopes it will inspire love and care for nature, particularly endangered plants and birds, and the preservation of green spaces. In each painting, she balances realism and painterly qualities to suit each image.
Artists are connected in a profound and complicated web of mentorships, even if the knowledge is shared via books and videos instead of direct apprenticeship. Wendy’s first teacher was her father, artist Wendell B. Johnson. With the foundation he gave her in childhood, she set off to college. She earned a B.A. in Art, studying under Robert Marshall, James Christensen, Bruce Smith, Wulf Barsch, Joe Ostraff, and Wayne Kimball among other mentors. She has continued to refine her skills through excellent workshops from Zwick Academy of Fine Art, and many online workshops, demos, and books. Particularly, Richard Schmid’s “Alla Prima” book and Quang Ho’s series of instructional videos have been very helpful in-depth analysis of technique, and Joe Cornelius (Mural Joe) has been a recurring teacher for learning how light rays interact with the world, allowing for alteration and combinations of disparate elements in a believable way. She hopes to share her knowledge in the same spirit of cooperation she has witnessed from her many generous teachers.
Wendy is a current member and recent board member of both the Windward Artists Guild (2013 – 2020) and the Association of Hawaii Artists (2017 – 2019). She is also currently working with Downtown Art Center as a volunteer webmaster. Additionally, she recently served on the board for Kailua Historical Society (2016 – 2018). She is also an associate member of the Oil Painters of America.