Johnson’s Beaded Landscapes Showing at the Firehouse in Newburyport

Showing from April 25-May 20!

From a distance, Douglas W. Johnson’s landscapes appear to be painted with dots of color, reminiscent of the pointillist technique Vincent Van Gogh used to create his renowned 1887 self-portrait, or the impressionism technique used by Monet used to create his Field of Poppies at Giverny.  Also Seurat’s dotted brushstrokes in Grande Jatte.

But step closer and you’ll discover that Mr. Johnson’s works of art aren’t paintings at all. He has traded the brush for several thousand points of glass: tiny shimmering seed beads woven into breathtaking glass canvases.

Over the past 30 years, Mr. Johnson has crafted more than 200 glass canvases, many now housed in private collections or proudly displayed in corporate lobbies. Fidelity Investments owns eight of his works. Doug has also been featured on several TV programs.

Artist Statement:

“I first came in contact with seed beads in 1970. At first I strung them into necklaces using different patterns of color. I loved the colors and was soon shown how to weave them on a loom. Being a guitar player at the time I decided to make a guitar strap out of beads. So I built a long loom and started weaving a strip of beads to be sewn onto leather. As I was weaving this long strap, I thought it would be nice to get wilder and make a scene out of beads. Imagine a house and barn or even a little village.

So I built a loom that could hold four strips in a row, each strip was 25 beads wide (like my guitar strap) so I ended up with a piece 100 beads wide. I wove each strip separately and sewed them together when they were done. It was not until 1990 that I figured out how to connect the rows on the loom ending up with a solid piece when taken off the loom.

Over a period of thirty years I have created over 200 pieces of art working with micro-sized glass beads. Realizing the unlimited possibilities of this process I built a series of looms to accommodate works of art ranging in size from 10” x 10” up to 2′ x 6′.  I built a bigger loom and started making pieces of 40-50 thousand beads. As time went on I found more and more sources of beads, built a larger loom and started making pieces of 100,000 beads. Now I am making pieces of two to three-hundred-thousand beads. I stayed exclusively with size 11 seed beads. They are the most common and offer the largest selection of colors. I now have close to a thousand shades of beads.

As the spectrum of colors increased for seed beads and became available I was able to create more detailed works of art. These encompass landscapes, cityscapes and thematic works of art, which may be a breakthrough in fine arts and can be best described as “bead painting”. It has been said when viewing my work from a distance, they appear to be fine art paintings, however when you look closer, you will discover intricate mosaics, comprised of thousands of beads. The play of light on the seed beads can only be described as stunning.” (Douglas W. Johnson)

happyinnewburyport.net is the property of HappyInNewburyport, LLC