Awards and Achievements
Calico Fine Arts Festival - 1981 - First Place
South Bay Arts Alliance - 1984, 85, 86 - First Place
San Clemente "Chalk One Up for the Arts"1989 - Most Original Painting - 1990 - Professional Division - First Place
Laguna Beach "Festival of the Arts" - 1988,89,90
One Man Art Show - 1990 - Ruth Mayer Gallery
Contemporary Realism Exhibit - 1991, John Wayne Airport, Orange County
Laguna Beach "Sawdust Festival" - 1992, 93,94
Several One Man Art Shows, Art Center Gallery, Westminster
Several One Man Art Shows, Pierside Gallery, Huntington Beach
At age sixteen surfing and learning to play the guitar were Dan's main interests. Doing art was not in his agenda. A shimmering wave tubing overhead was an art that totally enthralled his senses. He started doing construction at age fourteen and got into steel work at age sixteen. When he graduated High School all he wanted to do was surf. Moving from home days after graduation, living in his Ford Station Wagon and doing odd jobs here and there, Dan chased waves from Ventura to San Clemente. Getting a job at a new grocery store in Capistrano Beach, he got a room in a hotel that allowed him to rent monthly at a very inexpensive rate. Wet and wild, life was simple and good.
C During the mid 1960's the draft was a reality and so was the Vietnam War. At age twenty Dan got his draft papers and decided to join for an extra year to attain training in something other then the infantry. Thinking the phone company might be a future employment possibility, he became a lineman in the army. As the army is however, they sent him to Germany and put him in an engineering company. After nine months he volunteered for Vietnam. When his three years was completed he was more then ready to re-enter civilian life and get back to surfing. Finding a job doing ornamental ironwork in Capistrano Beach, steel Construction became his profession.
It was not until around the age of thirty that fate happened to inspire Dan to explore art again. A friend who was studying art in college brought some of their art over to show and this compelled Dan to try his hand sketching in pencil and charcoal. Each drawing came out better and better, and friends started to complement him. This started 'artist fantasies' to swirl in his imagination.
Other highlights around this time was when Dan was accepted as an exhibitor at Laguna's 'Festival of the Arts' and the 'Sawdust Festival'. These were great and rewarding ventures. Doing a few traveling shows, he won ‘first place’ several times. He decided to put a painting in the Del Mar County Faire, and each time it sold. At the faire he won the 'Peoples Choice' award along with 'First Place' in his division.
Helping others to be inspired, and giving advice on how to paint brought Dan pleasure. During almost eight years painting in the public view, he gave advice to many. Dan did a couple of classes for a friend who had an art group they taught. The people in the class gave great feedback to the teacher about how they enjoyed his lecture and demo. Dan remembers how he volunteered at the Del Mar Faire for a Demo. There were two classes that day for two hours apiece. People filled every seat and stayed for the entire time. Dan enjoys passing on what he knows, and thinks that someday he may try teaching.
Dan Johnson has sold well over a thousand original paintings, and has had more then fifty different prints of his art produced. For the past twenty years art has been his full time profession. He lives with his beautiful wife Edith.
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Dan Johnson was born with an eye for seeing artistically. At an early age it was recognized that he could draw. Around the age of twelve or thirteen, his mother enrolled him in a group class for oil painting near where she worked. Riding his bike several miles to learn how to paint, his mom would take him home after work. He created three paintings while attending this class. For reasons that can’t be remembered, these lessons ended after only a couple of months.
When Dan was 14 he copied a sketch that was in an advertisement for a correspondence art school. A salesman came to their home to speak to him and his mother. She bought the course for her son. Even though he never finished it, he did learn a few things such as perspective and how to block in shapes. This was about the only formal training in art that he ever had, other then high school. High school art at that time however was next to nothing in regards to learning anything about how to do art. The main highlight there was winning the contest to do the poster for the Christmas Ball. He was taught how to do a silk-screen, and produced the poster by that technique.
Faces interested Dan as he started drawing those he knew. Finding that pastels was a medium that he could understand, Dan used them to create portraits. Moving into his van he got a small studio in Laguna Beach for $75 a month. Laguna Beach being a beautiful town, a walk down Pacific Coast Highway was something Dan enjoyed. On these walks he would often stop at the Ruth Mayer Gallery. She was a very nice lady and a great painter. As they talked, Dan mentioned that he was doing some art. Ruth Mayer said to bring her something to look at. After taking a look at his creations, Ruth invited Dan to put something in her gallery. His second pastel sold for $700.
Steel Construction was still Dan’s main source of income. Sometimes he would quit to do more art, and then go back when money ran low. It would be this way for some years to come. He wondered how he could really make a living at art. It was always easy to fall back into doing ornimental iron.
One day while walking in Laguna's Heisler Park, he noticed an artist selling a painting. This artist had a painting on his easel and a few other finished paintings around him. He wondered, "Could this be a way to make a living doing art?" Deciding to give it a try, Dan remembers the very first day he painted in the park.
He was sketching in ultramarine blue several palm trees overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The 'block in' looked good but when the color started being applied, as people started looking over his shoulder, as the colors started to look muddy, Dan packed it in and went home. Always a self-teacher and problem solver, Dan shut his eyes and thought, “How do I do it?” Envisioning a technique to paint so it would look better sooner, Dan went back out again. Day after day he painted in this beautiful park next to the ocean. He would have several finished paintings set up on a blanket, and be working on a new creation. His work sold. In fact, he sold everything he did consistently. By being out there in the public view thousands saw him paint. He in fact was one of the many attractions when people would walk in Heisler Park. By being there, he was put in magazines, and met many wonderful people who appreciated his art. While at a frame shop he met a gallery owner who became the next step in his artistic career. The gallery owner decided to make a lithograph of a painting that Dan just finished as well as purchasing the original. It just so happens that this print was fantastically popular. The painting sold in a week's time. That pretty much sealed the fact of this gallery wanting to produce more prints of his art, along with getting as many original paintings from him as they could.