About the Artist

James L Johnson is a landscape impressionist oil painter specializing in triptychs. He paints scenes from the Southwest, Montana, and more.


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James L Johnson is an artist of great potential and promise. His rich color and confident brushwork reveal a depth of visual insight uncommon to emerging artists. His impressionist-realist western oil paintings have already received numerous awards and recognition, including a recent honorable mention and full-page feature in Southwest Art magazine (December 2015 issue). Rich and diverse cultural experiences in the Navajo Nation, Spain, Montana, and the Middle East have instilled in James a deep hunger for more than scenic variety - he thrives on promoting people, places, and principles that engender peace, harmony, and balance in our unstable world.

In his landscape and figurative works, he strives for just this kind of harmony. Beginning this year, James has embarked on a long-term commitment to paint primarily western landscapes and figures exclusively in the triptych format (a single work of art comprised of three related panels). He explains several reasons behind this approach in his artist statement:

“Colors and numbers fascinate me. While color sings to my heart, numeric patterns in nature tickle my mind. I paint primarily in the triptych format, considering the number three to represent, symbolically, a rhythmic process common to all things in our world and universe: Unity, Variety, Harmony. My paintings are impressionistic in nature, guided by an effort to first capture the human emotion of a moment in time, then to hint at some deeper, timeless truth portrayed quietly throughout God’s masterful handiwork. Sharing my awe and reverence for the natural order and beauty of this planet is my passion and purpose. Through observation and creation, I have found pondering the rich visual world in which we live to be a powerful antidote to the anxiety, stress, and complexity of life.”

Prior to pursuing fine art as a full-time career, James taught both collegiate- and high school-level art classes, including 2 years on the breathtakingly beautiful Navajo Indian Reservation, and 3 years at Brigham Young University–Idaho. He has participated actively in a variety of shows, commissions, and exhibitions along the way, and for a time freelanced as an editorial illustrator. He has been drawing and painting for as long as he can remember, and has never stopped learning.

James received his BFA in Illustration from BYU–Idaho in 2008, followed by an MFA from the Academy of Art University in 2012. This foundation included mentoring and workshops from many notable artists, including Albin Veselka, Leon Parson, Morgan Weistling, Mike Malm, John Poon, Bryan Mark Taylor, and Josh Clare. The results of rubbing shoulders with these incredibly talented teachers and peers included a love of design, an understanding of light, a commitment to drawing and painting from life (“en plein air”), and, best of all, marriage to the equally talented and much prettier artist, Crystal Oftedahl (crystalj.net).

James and Crystal live in Kalispell, Montana with their most rewarding creations - 3 young adorable kids. They survive each day’s adventure only by the grace of God.


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2017    Top 15%, "Sheltered Quarters", March FASO Boldbrush Competition
Purchase Award & 2nd Place, "Reach," Thundering Oaks Paint out & Exhibition
2015    Hon. Mention, “Nana’s Girl”, Artistic Excellence Competition, Southwest Art Mag.
2013    Best of Show in Category, “Hemming Cabin”, Idaho Summerfest Art Competition
2013    Idaho Artist of the Year, Twin Cities TOSCA Magazine
2012    Judge’s Choice Award “Feed My Sheep”, IAA Annual Christmas Showcase
2011    MFA Online Award “Toast Crumbs”, Academy of Art University
2011    2nd Place – “Ode to Toast”, FASO BoldBrush Competition
2009    2nd Place – “Steady, Upward Course”, BYU-Idaho Spirit Week Art Contest, BYU–ID



2017    2-Person Show, "Glacier Going Back," Whitefish, MT
2017    John Alexander, "Abou Ben Adem"
2016    Dennis Largey, "Worlds Without Number"
2016    Thundering Oaks Paint Out, Independence, MO
2015    Bluff Arts Festival/Exhibition, Bluff, UT
2014    Bernedette McCracken, “Moroni’s Three”
2014    Emma Kunda, “Emma’s Father”
2014    Kendra Burton, “Oquirrh Mountain Temple”
2013    Inspirational Art Association Annual Christmas Showcase (Juried), Salt Lake City, UT
2013    Deseret Book Fine Art Gallery Painting Demo/Exhibition, Salt Lake City, UT
2013    Ben Behunin, “Have Ye Any Meat?”
2013    Driggs Diggs Plein Air Festival, Driggs, ID
2013    Rexburg Summerfest Art Competition, Rexburg, ID
2012    Inspirational Art Association Annual Christmas Showcase (Juried), Salt Lake City, UT
2012    Yohauna Kunz, “The Time is At Hand”
2012    Elliott Fouts Gallery (Representation), Sacramento, CA
2012    Jenny Cooper, “Believe, Obey, Endure”
2011    Mark and Andrea Hales, Couple Portrait
2011    Inspirational Art Association Annual Christmas Showcase (Juried), Salt Lake City, UT
2011    26th Annual Spiritual & Religious Art of Utah, (Curated) Springville MOA, UT
2011    Pioneer Art Festival, Praiseworthy Arts Foundation (Juried), Salt Lake City, UT
2010    John & Valerie Brodie, “A Little Child Shall Lead Them”
2010    AAU Spring Salon, Academy of Art University (Juried), San Francisco, CA
2009    Leah Davis, “Strength to Overcome”
2009    David & JoAnn Seely, Children Portrait
2008    BFA Senior Exhibition, BYU–Idaho Spori Art Gallery (Group), Rexburg, ID
2008    David & Kristi Bennett, Couple Portrait
2008    Patrick Hays, “Ramona Landscape”
2007    BYU–I Student Art Showcase (Juried), BYU–I Spori Art Gallery (Juried), Rexburg, ID
2006    BYU–I Student Art Showcase (Juried), BYU–I Spori Art Gallery (Juried), Rexburg, ID 



2016    Qiang Huang, 3-day oil painting workshop
2013    Teaching Certificate, BYU–Idaho
2012    MFA, Academy of Art University
2012    Morgan Weistling, 3-month mentorship (remote)
2012    Albin Veselka, 1-month internship (in-studio)
2011    Walter Rane, 3-month mentorship (remote)
2010    John Poon, landscape paint-out, guidance
2009    Ovanes Berberian, still life demonstration
2008    BFA, Brigham Young University–Idaho
2007    Robert Barrett, 1-month internship (in-studio)