Dampening the Noise


Shannon Deana Johnson conveys quiet with her work

Inspired by nature, Shannon Deana Johnson aims to capture the feelings it evokes. “To me the world is a noisy place,” she says. “When I am outside I can experience a calmer, quieter life. That feeling is what I want to convey in my work.”

Her abstract paintings depict the shapes and colors of the natural world and the processes that impact it. “I take a close-up view of those processes,” she says. “I use water a lot in my work. If I lay down a layer of paint, I may use a spray bottle to apply water to mimic the effects of erosion on land.”

The blues and earth tones of our Smoky Mountains represent the quiet and calm she seeks in her paintings. A trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, brought a lot of pinks into her pieces. A visit to Hawaii inspired additions of turquoise and sepia brown. “I like to see the landscapes when we travel,” she says. A sketchpad accompanies her on those journeys, and a camera may help her recall the pattern of leaves on a path she has hiked.

A Southern California native, Johnson followed her now-husband to Knoxville, received her bachelor’s in fine arts from the University of Tennessee and raised their three children here. When the youngest was ready to start school, she headed to the classroom as well, teaching art to various age groups for the next 20 years.

After years in the classroom, Johnson believes everyone possesses a level of creativity and can be taught to make art. But the real artists are those who have a need to create and won’t be satisfied without fulfilling that need. Johnson herself returned to her art full-time in 2021.

Her work can be found at Pivot Point Gallery in Knoxville, at dk Gallery in Marietta, Georgia, and on her website, shannondeanajohnson.com.

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