Anne Johnstone

Recently, my artworks became abstract. I had been making narrative paintings steeped in psychological drama. Letting go of subject matter in favor of the definition of inexplicit space seemed to happen by itself, over a period of time. Briefly, the definition of objects using paint no longer satisfied my need to paint. My energy now becomes my subject matter. How sensation moves through me (from brush, to paint, to the surface of the painting) becomes worthy of exploration. My energy just wants outlet. It is the manifestation of spirit, the doorway to the spiritual. The spiritual is the abstract.

The teachers who I’ve chosen to consult on this exploration are practices, rather than people, imbued with wisdom. Meditation, stillness, and silence are my mentors. Again and again, I go to them with my monkey mind (thinking) and they reveal it to me. There’s no getting away. They are imperturbable teachers. So I am left to watch my mind. I have the sensation that I disconnect from what has absorbed me in the past and I feel empty. My painting explores this sense of emptiness. Atmospheric color fields, subtle color changes, and abstract shapes occupy the picture plane.

Minimalism and, specifically, Agnes Martin are my historical references. Other artists had already figured out that less is more and that to get to less it helps to have a plan. I differ from Minimalists in that I do not approach my canvases with a preconceived idea. Rather, I play with color, collage, and wax until I reach a point where I am both uncovering and discovering something about the painting. My energy calls me to create a history of mark-making, including building up surfaces in order to cut them away and reconstruct them. I intend for my ego to step out of the way and allow the painting process to fill the silent void.