Awake to Spring! New Art at the FriendShop


It is spring indeed in Seattle when the rough rain storm can be followed by the lightest kiss of sunlight, only a short time later to fall back into old habits and dampen the city again. Over and over, we see the pattern, though so do the now chirping birds, the bImageursting rhododendron buds, those sounds and smells that seem freshened by the bursts of warm sunlight.

Today is spring’s day, and Kathy Johnson is spring’s painter. Kathy is a local painter and owner of Studio by the Sound. As a textile designer, architectural color consultant, and painter, the many forms of art in which Kathy has explored in life only deepens her mastery of color and pattern. Image

As a Northwest painter, her work captures the daily life we all value in passing. From the ferry to the marketplace to the lone dahlia garden, Kathy transforms the everyday to the heavenly. We are lucky to have so fine an artist retelling our stories!

The FriendShop at the Central Seattle Public Library was delighted to chat with Kathy about her artistic process, vision, and her opinions on the intersect between art and literature. We will be celebrating Kathy’s vision all March at the FriendShop! Her art transferred to notecards, tiles, and trivets are available throughout the month.

   All proceeds from sales go to the Seattle Public Library.

Now, let’s hear from Kathy!


– Could you give the Friends a look at your creative process as you embark on creating a new piece?

(VIEW: YouTube video of the process of a painting)

I usually start with a very small “thumbnail” sketch – which REALLY is small.  About 3”x2”.  Small sketches like this help the artist figure out composition, values and sometimes color.

Then a more complete drawing is done – and then transferred to a piece of watercolor paper.

In the example I’m showing here, I painted a ‘resist’ liquid on those areas that needed to remain white (or protected) while I did background color washes.

Once the background was complete, I removed the resist and could paint those items (barn & flowers) that were painted directly against the background.

Gradually theImage brightest flowers were painted and then on to filling in the foliage, adjusting values along the way.

This particular painting was a commissioned piece of someone’s very large dahlia garden.

 – Do you have any local spots that you draw influence from?

Since I live in west Seattle, several local landscapes here have been my subject matter – along with the tulip fields of Skagit Valley and the lavender farms in Sequim.

 – As an architectural color consultant (a woman of many hats, indeed!), how does your eye for shades, texture, and light play a part in evaluating a building or design project?

The biggest factor in working as a color consultant is the experience of mixing colors (for paintings) on a regular basis.  Understanding how colors are mixed helps you put colors together in a harmonious way.  Light is also a huge part of color – whether artificial, natural, morning, evening, etc.  Colors shift with light changes.

 – What advice would you give for an amateur artist looking to begin painting or retaking up a lost hobby?

Pick up a brush and START!  The hardest part is often simply starting…..even if that first brush stroke isn’t perfect, it’s a beginning.  Once you start, you are moving forward.  Take a class.  Practice, practice, practice.  Also check out art museums & galleries – or simply visit a new place for inspiration.  Ideas come from everywhere.

 – Do you see painting and literature as art forms intersecting?

I appreciate authors who can tell a story with a minimum amount of words…. their books are well-edited.  In the same way, I try to create paintings that are pared down to a minimum amount of detail in order to convey a mood of the scene.  I’d like to give the audience a new way of seeing – and if they need more detail, their imagination can fill in!

All Photos Copyrighted- Kathy Johnson, Studio by the Sound ***

You Can Find Us:

The Central Library – The Seattle Public Library Main Branch
(on Level 3, Fifth Avenue side)
1000 Fourth Avenue
Seattle WA 98104
Tel: 206.733.9015

We are also happy to assist with sales by phone.

Contact: Jessica Frederick, Social Media Manager,



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