Sherry Johnson has been represented by Montgomery-Lee for several years. Her focus is painting skulls of domestic and exotic beasts. “I think the fascination with skulls came from my childhood,” she said. “I grew up in Orem, Utah, on a farm and spent a lot of time in nature. I would hike the Wasatch mountains and remember coming across sun-bleached bones of animals.” Skeletons resonated with her, and she began drawing bones, and eventually adding color to them, while attending art classes at Utah Valley University.
“I’ve had to ask myself many times about why I would want to paint a dead animal,” she said with a laugh. “I just find the shapes beautiful. They are simple. They are organic.”
Johnson’s go-to medium is oil paint and she uses a brush instead of a palette knife.She’ll compose the image first, before starting the painting. She goes in with a drawing first that is really tight. Then comes in with a contemporary approach and start laying down the color. One of the recurring challenges Johnson faces is deciding what background color will go best with the skull. She wrestles with that quite a bit, sometimes it will get to a point where she will put the painting aside and come back to it with fresh eyes in a few days.
“When I was at art school, I took a variety of art classes in mixed media and watercolor,” she said. “But for some reason, I’ve settled on oils, and I love the richness of colors they offer. I love the way you can manipulate the paint to create a variety of effects. I feel there is more freedom.”
Click on artwork to see details.