Painter/ Artist/ Teacher

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Lisa Johnson


Lisa Johnson is a Canadian painter living just north of Toronto, Canada. Johnson has been painting professionally since graduating with honours from the Ontario College of Art and Design, where she also won the prestigious Mrs. W.O. Forsythe Award for 4th year women painters.  Lisa Johnson's work has been quietly gathering a following among collectors in the U.S.A., Europe and Canada.

"She is a modern romantic poised halfway between the world of purely painterly dreams and visions of grand mysterious Canadian places."

--Robert Kameczura, Chicago
Big Shoulder's Magazine

This summer her work was seen in a show curated by Thom Sokoloski at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, "Darkness at the Edge", a must-see show according to NOW magazine. Her paintings are in this spring's "NU WORK" magazine as well as the summer issue of Arabella Magazine.

After several years of teaching art in a cyberARTS program at Lakeshore Collegiate, Lisa travelled to Berlin to experience the contemporary art scene and came back to an inspiring workshop with abstract expressionist, Harold Klunder. She is now happy to be back to full time painting and is developing a new body of work to be exhibited in the coming year.

During her years at OCAD, she was particularly influenced by studies with Tom Dean and Richard Robertson. An inspirational line can also be drawn from Joyce Wieland, for whom she worked in the 80's, while Joyce was preparing for her AGO retrospective.



Johnson has always been fascinated by the techniques of the old and new masters, whose work she studied first-hand while living in Europe, particularly Carravagio, Rubens, and Rembrandt as well as Cezanne, Morandi and Picasso.

Her work shows an affinity with abstract expressionists like de Kooning and Auerbach, yet draws on a 17th century aesthetic to create dramatic and layered abstractions imbued with a vibrant sense of depth and form. Johnson is able to create theatrical worlds-- passionate dramas that speak with spirit and musicality, both physically tough yet lyrical and poetic.  

"I find inspiration from music and dance as well as from the history of art-making. I look for rhythm and movement in forms, whether found in a still life, landscape or figure. My paintings express an emotional and sensual response to form, space and light. Colour emphasizes points of sensitivity and energy. The end result makes reference to a representational starting point, but at the same time draws the viewer to look beyond the optical. My current explorations bring landscape, figure and architecture together, with resulting tensions between abstraction and representation."


Lisa Johnson, AOCAD


1996 Ontario College of Art & Design,
A.O.C.A.D. with Honours
Fine Arts, Drawing & Painting

1982 York University - B.A.
Political Theory & Humanities

1977 Interlochen Arts Academy (Mich., U.S.A.)
Visual Arts and Dance

York University, Bachelor of Ed.
Fine Arts 2005


1996 Mrs. W.O. Forsythe Award for 4th Year Women Painters
Ontario College of Art


NuWork Mazine, Spring 2013

Arabella Magazine, Summer 2013

Canadian House & Home, Toronto

Toronto Star 2004

Toronto Life 2003



Exhibition History:

Darkness at the Edge
Curated show by Thom Sokoloski
Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts
Toronto, 2013

Propeller Centre, Toronto 2013

Mazinaw Sketches
Collin Edwards Memorial Art Gallery
Bon Echo, 2012

New Featured Artists, Quinn’s Fine Art;
Tweed, 2012

Nuit Blanche “Intersections”
Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts;
Toronto, 2011

Landscape Group Show,
Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, 2010

Salon Show,
Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, 2010

Nuit Blanche -- painting live on stage --
Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, 2010

"Lisa Johnson - Fault Lines" (solo)
Propeller, 2009

Lisa Johnson, new work (solo)
Canvas & Strings Salon; Toronto, 2009

Spirit of the Hills,
Showcase Gallery; Cobourg, 2009

"Lisa Johnson - Formations" (solo)
Propellor Centre for the Visual Arts
Toronto, ON

"Washi Summit" (group)
Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts

"Lisa Johnson - Fractures" (solo)
Propellor Centre for the Visual Arts

"Salon" (group)
Propellor Centre for the Visual Arts
Toronto, ON

"Elegy" (2 person)
Catch-23 Gallery
Guelph, Ontario

"Working the Land" (2 person)
OCAD Gallery

"Lay of the Land"
Gallery 1313
5 person show

"Lisa Johnson - Paintings"
Avalon Restaurant,
270 Adelaide St. W., Toronto

Greystones Gallery
Mazinaw Lake, Cloyne
3 person show

Bon Echo Art Exhibition
Mazinaw Lake, Cloyne
Juried Show

"Spirit of Temagami"
OCAD Gallery - Group Show
Dundas St. W., Toronto
Summer 2002

"Lisa Johnson- Paintings"
Steam Whistle Roundhouse
solo show

"Summer Dreams"
Art Exchange Gallery
London, Ontario

Bon Echo Art Exhibition
Mazinaw Lake, Ontario

"Lisa Johnson, Nasco Pelev and Andrew Peycha"
Ashton/Evicta Gallery

Collaborations - A Chamber Arts Experience
Painted live on stage during chamber music performance
1999 - DuMaurier Theatre, Toronto

Mazinaw: "Landscapes & Interiors" - Solo Show
Kathleen Gormley McKay Art Centre, Unionville

Vaughan Arts Festival, Group Exhibition
1999 - Vaughan City Playhouse, Thornhill

West Edge Artist Collective Benefit for Batten Disease
1999 - Group Show -Toronto

York Region Annual Juried Exhibition
Frederick Horsman Varley Art Gallery of Markham; Unionville

"Cello Suites" - solo show
James Allen Fine Art,
Queen St. E., Toronto

Summer "7 Painters" - Group Show
James Allen Fine Art, Toronto

"re/membering"Group show
1996 - Ontario College of Art

95, 96 Open House
Ontario College of Art

OCA Women's Collective Group show
1995 - Arts in Action Gallery, Toronto

"Paintings from Italy" Solo show
1995 - Upper Canada Brewing Co. Gallery, Toronto



Teaching Life:

LTO Artist Educator, TDSB

Lakeshore Collegiate, CyberARTS programme: Art teacher, grades 9 - 12 2011-2013

Newtonbrook SS 2009-10 Art & Drama
Downsview SS Visual Art