AJ photo 4.2.16

In another life, she might have been an architect, for her love of form and space, but Annalee Johnson became a painter, who starts each day with the palette before the canvas, experimenting with the color she woke up seeing in her mind, mixing, imagining, until she turns to the work in progress to see where it is needed, where it wants to be.

A resident of Newburyport for more than fifty years, her eyes are attuned to the beauty of sea, salt marsh, and woodlands across the seasons and from those images, she paints what she sees in her head.

“There is not a lot of right and wrong in what I paint,” she says, relying on intuition and soul to pull and resonate. It is a form of play, a puzzle to be solved, the joyful challenge of discovering the difference between what works and does not.

“I stop if it isn’t fun.”

She works in her studio at home, a place full of light and quiet, where she draws on a variety of tools—from hands to palette knife and brush—and materials—from pastels and watercolors to mostly oil today, using walnut oil, cold wax, or marble dust for effect. It is for her a liberation of the mind.

“I find it hard to talk about painting,” she says, “including my own. It is not a verbal thing. I never listen to taped descriptions in museums.”

As a girl she took art classes, encouraged by a mother who always made space for creative work. In high school she won Gold Key awards from the Boston Globe. She became a teacher in progressive elementary schools, and then a head of school, followed by a short stint as a renovator of houses, the architect showing up at last, but with art and her visual sense of her surroundings never far from her mind.

When she retired, painting came full force back into her life, influenced especially by the work of Karen Jones and Nella Lush.

She is a member of Newburyport Art Association, an artist member of the Rockport Art Association and the North Shore Art Association.  She has shown her work in numerous juried shows earning several honorable mentions and awards for innovation.

Annalee Johnson is a woman of community and family, in nature and in art.