Motivational Works: Miles Johnston

During the week, to keep me motivated to produce art, I found myself turning towards Instagram in hopes to find another profound artist whose technical ability would inspire me to reach above and beyond when creating my next large-scale projects. Despite my encounters with many cliché depictions of colored-pencil eyes, and pastel works comprising of simply rendered silhouettes, I came across an artist that incorporated both extensive rendering of form and really interesting subject matter, and began to take a deep-dive into their works. This artist being Miles Johnston, a part-time teacher and alumni of the Swedish Academy of Realist Art.

Why Miles Johnston?

One thing that really captivates me with this artist is how Miles Johnston takes the mundane task of drawing and painting figures but transforms them in a way that envelops the viewer and immediately places them in the mentality of analyzing the subjects’ psyche. When reflecting on my first impressions of this body of work, I found it to be near impossible to view the work at face value, rather I found myself staring at his subjects and trying to find out what must be going on for them internally. Much of which is an effect elicited by the dynamic poses of Miles Johnston’s figures, and the implementation of the surreal, through distorted elements, repetition of organic, fluid shapes, division, and illusion.

Miles Johnston art
I Only Exist in the Light
Graphite on Cream Stonehenge Paper

However, my own insight wasn’t enough for me. I found myself wanting to dive deeper into this individual’s work and develop an understanding of why his style is like such. Through reference to some galleries that have displayed his work, I came to the conclusion that for Johnston, “evoking an emotional reaction is key; the relationship between a piece and a viewer is what makes a piece of art complete”. In his view, a piece can be deemed impressive by being technically sound and rendered exactly. However, the element that brings artwork to life is how it affects those who see it.

In addition to this, many of the galleries I have looked at characterize Johnston’s work, as dreamy, mesmerizing, surreal, visceral, psychedelic, and mind-bending. Furthermore, the work calls to its viewer and encourages them to question what elements of ourselves, good and bad, we internalize. It takes focus on how we see ourselves and others, which in turn creates a connection with the work that is both satisfying and perplexing.

Looking at the works as a whole, the artist has a lot of interesting diversity. Yes, the subject matter all comprises of human form, but the way in which the artist uses various media, paper, and means of distorting the figure calls for interesting ideas. Some of the work feels serene, and captures peace of mind, while others come off as eerie and unsettling. The work is well rendered, but at the same time has an illustrative that gives off the feeling of having been influenced by the works of M. C. Escher, Ernst Fuchs, Takato Yamamoto, Alphonse Mucha, Zdzisław Beksiński, Gustav Klimt and James Jean.

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