Recycle Your Work

This panel has been going now for years. And years. It began as a simple birch, gessoed with acrylic, and became a sequel to another painting of the same size that depicted a fantastical take on a public execution extrapolated from the days in England when politics and faith pulled people apart between denominations. This panel then became a future glimpse into an otherworldly perspective on such terrors.

I later retired this panel, until I needed something on which to paint the story of Jacob’s wives and family. Having scraped maybe 70% of that painting away, I am left with this pastel palette palimpsest image, intending to reevaluate its figures, and how they are drawn.

Out of Context: Recent Works by Adrian Johnston

Out of Context…

The work in this Out of Context show is intended as a bridge for art and community through hospitality. The Prattville Gallery itself is an exercise in hospitality, a vision for the creation of redemptive culture, and a bridge for art and community. The works portray people upside down, roots in bloom, and light in dark. It is out of context because it offers art, which Hans-Georg Gadamer has described as play, symbol, and festival, in the midst of what we experience every day as war, futility, and division. It offers paradox in prayer, and asks for unity in celebration.

This exhibit courtesy of The Prattville Gallery.

See more at

Findings: A Collaboration Between Artists and Students

Process works for the Mentor/Student show at the Barrington Gallery, Gordon College, Wenham, MA.

A beautiful show of student and mentor artwork at Gordon College exhibited throughout the small gallery and the Loggia of Barrington Center for the Arts. It coincided with the group show “The Florence Portfolio,” in the main gallery space.


This year’s 14th Annual Melrose Arts Window Art Walk is kicking off of October 9, 2021, and work of 30 some artists will be on display in the windows of local businesses until Oct. 24, 2021. Thanks to Halo Studio, at 467 Main Street Melrose, MA 02176 for hosting 5 works of my art, which are on display to the public 24 hours a day! Thanks to you, the viewer, as well—perhaps you arrived here via the art walk or having scanned the QR code. I hope you enjoy these visual meditations on process and product.

About the Work and the Process:

My work hovers between surface and story. Growing out of life-drawing process, I express presence through color, and a sense of time through the history of accumulated line. My process has been inspired by post–abstract expressionism, using layered culture tokens and personal iconography to isolate a visual wavelength that fluctuates between the surface of material and depth of illusion, and between subjectivity and objectivity.

The work here is representative of two veins of work. I will try to explain a little bit about each here.

All of the 5 works found their departure in thinking about the End, and what happens beyond it. Recently, I exhibited a number of work in a selected body of work titled “END_PAINTINGS.” All of the paintings in the show had some dealing with the idea of the End. This idea was rooted in a quote of T. S. Eliot’s, from “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets (Gardners Books; Main edition, April 30, 2001) Originally published 1943. Towards the end of this poem T. S. Eliot wrote, “to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

2019 felt like the end of a season, and 2021, a new vantage point by which to evaluate, fuse into orbit fragmented pieces of changing season, history, experience, and undulating memory. Quaratine was like the “underscore” in the title, during and out of which this thinking and painting happened. As the paintings in various forms dealt with “the end,” they also explored the space between the end and the beginning. They are in part a product of my quarantine labors to integrate past-present-future—painting as a means to live forward today in light of what is past; living as it were, “Between two waves of the sea.” The works included referenced Greek mythology, the middle near-eastern view through Biblical narrative, consumerist product culture, spirituality and worship. Two of the paintings from that exhibit are included here: Fan, and Coffee Maker (Under Construction).

Out of this larger guiding concept, emerged the two groups—the product paintings, or “Living Room” paintings (supersize household objects on mountaintops), and what i tentatively refere to as the “Metamorphos” paintings. Both groups began to ask two separate questions: “How is a creation created?” and “Where do our creations end?”

Work-in-process detail of Coffee Maker (undressed): before the construction cloth was added.

The Metamorphoo paintings were really an exploration of a painting methodology, where subsequent layers would always be applied in a certain order bathing 90% of the previous layer. Much of the initial dealing with paint was strictly in terms of color and transparency, while the direction and consistency of brushwork were also important. They began as black paintings, over which was layered red, semi-precious metal leaf (copper or silver), and then other colors—blue, yellow, red, and green in brushstrokes and powdered pigment that created and scattered the main form that emerged—in this case, a floating rock island of sorts. These works explore the physical process as narrative in and of itself, while it secondly deals with the natural content. As the title suggests, change is a process, and transformation is a reality which exists for newness simultaneously within the creature and as that power which is so far beyond the creation.

The Greek word metamorphoo is sometimes translated at “transform.” Which makes the venue–a salon–meaningful. But metamorphoo can also be translated as “transfigure” which implies a deeper change that emanates from within.

Again, I hope you enjoy these visual meditations on process and product.

Definitions: Stillness

“For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death.”

-G. K. Chesterton, 

The Ethics of Elfland (excerpt from Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith)

Ears to Hear and Eyes to See

The first part of Matthew chapter 13 includes a number of parables. This illustration was done in conjunction with Bible Study Fellowship’s 2021 Study of Matthew: “The Unexpected King.”. See other artworks here.

What resonated with me as a unifying thread to the many visual elements in the stories themselves was the exhortation to “see” and to “hear.”

“An Ear to Hear.” Illustration for Matthew 13:1-30

Matthew 13:1-30 includes several distinct parts, including the parable of the four soils, and the parable of the good seed among weeds. I have taken Jesus’ exhortation in vv 10-17 to “hear and see” as the integrating theme for this drawing, “An Ear to Hear.” In this drawing, the inside of the story is larger than the outside. Here showing path and birds, rocks, weeds, fruitful ground.


End Paintings
by Adrian Johnston August 2 – 30, 2021

Newton Free Library 330 Homer Street, Newton, MA 02459

Newton Free Library Logo

T. S. Eliot said, “to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” 2019 felt like the end of a season and, 2021 a new vantage point by which to evaluate, fuse into orbit fragmented pieces of changing season, history, experience and memory. These works deal in various forms with “the end,” but also with the space between the end and the beginning. They are in part a product of the Adrian Johnston’s quarantine labors to integrate past-present-future—painting is a means to live forward today in light of what is past.

Contact Adrian:

An Active Heaven in an Earth in Turmoil

Once upon a time, there was no separation between the heavens and the earth…. The atmosphere was no shelter from the violence of storm weilding angels, with thunder in their robes, while earth’s trees gave shelter to terrifying visions of milk white cherubs. When nature is red in tooth and claw, then heaven is black and blue and rimmed with fire.

RUBENS, Peter Paul
(b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)

The Martyrdom of St Livinus
Oil on canvas, 455 x 347 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
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