Paintings by Nils P. Johnson at YSU Gallery

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An exhibition of paintings by Nils P. Johnson opens today in the Solomon Gallery at Youngstown State University.

Titled “Color Up! Paintings by Nils P. Johnson,” the art show will run through April 20. Johnson will be present at a reception Wednesday, April 12, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the gallery.

Johnson, a Canfield-based lawyer, is an elected member of the Allied Artists of America, the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and the Copley Society in Boston. His work is in the collection of the Butler Institute of American Art and Dartmouth College.

He regularly exhibits his paintings in shows throughout New England and New York. In 2022 he was artist in residence at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, Mass., for the Copley Society, where he completed a mural for the Ohio Supreme Court.

Johnson’s mural “Canfield 4th of July” is displayed at the Mahoning County Court in Canfield.

Nils P. Johnson

A respected painter and teacher, Johnson was recently chosen as the first artist in residence of Smarts Community Art School in Youngstown. The school provides after-school arts education.

Although Johnson has developed his own style, he counts among his influences Swedish painter Anders Zorn, American painter John Singer Sargent, Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla and Russian painter Ilya Repin.

Johnson has pioneered a technique using what he calls “ghost images,” even inventing his own color wheel to facilitate his process.

He employs stacks of associated colors that breathe through each other to create a vibrant, textured surface. The artist starts by creating what is essentially a color negative, the under-painting. To determine the proper color for the large masses of the first layer, he stares for 30 seconds at the color he wants to end up with and then gazes with unfocused eyes at a white sheet of paper.  A “ghost” image appears.

By not completely over-painting and allowing the under-painting to peek through, the eye blends the colors, lights and darks, and places objects in space in a unique way.

Johnson is currently writing a book on this technique titled “Color Up: A Better Way to Paint!,” which will be published soon.

Painting is not his only passion. Johnson is also a playwright and music composer and plays piano with the J&J Jazz Trio.

The Solomon Gallery is on the second floor of YSU’s Bliss Hall on Wick Avenue. It is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is available in the Wick Avenue Parking Deck (M30) for $5 (cash only).

Pictured at top: “Quincy Market” by Nils P. Johnson.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.