Plein Air Paintings from New Brunswick Artist Michael Chesley Johnson

By admin in Featured Artists > Oil Paintings

Michael Chesley Johnson is a plein air painter, pastelist, and art workshop teacher from New Brunswick, Canada. His paintings (often created on the shores of Canada’s maritime provinces or deep in the American Southwest) are all wonderful examples of skilled artwork which simply and clearly reflects the beauty of nature.

Take for example this painting, entitled Path to the Lighthouse. No part of the scene—be it the scrubby tree in the foreground, or the glorious magenta-hued lighthouse in the distance—receives any less care from his brush.

Path to the Lighthouse by Michael Chesley Johnson

For the sake of being unnecessarily picturesque, some artists would have moved closer perhaps, focusing in on the obvious landmark at hand, the lighthouse.

Michael, however, captured the full effect of nature—we see the distance and breadth of the sun-warmed hillside, the sloping hard-baked path, and the cold ocean waves lapping up against green-skinned rocks which extend like thirsty tree roots outward into the sea.

With Low Tide, Friar’s Bay, we find a complete change of lighting and temperature, which of course affects the entire piece. Blues and cyans show up even in the ruddy shoreline, and with the overcast skies perfectly matching the water below, you can almost feel the sea-mist rolling in.

Low Tide, Friar's Bay by Michael Chesley Johnson

As a plein air painter, color IS extremely important, and Michael certainly seems to make the most of it when the opportunity arises.

Like this intense juxtaposition of snow in shadow and snow in sunlight, for example.

Sunswept Meadow with Snow by Michael Chesley Johnson

In Sunswept Meadow with Snow, Michael flips the general rule of temperature and distance on its head, putting the golden sunlight mid-ground and forcing it backward with rather intense tints of blue.

SEE MORE: Unique landscape paintings at NUMA Gallery

The final outcome is an impressionist-style masterpiece of pure color and flurried brush strokes. . . a painted “snapshot” that was no doubt hurriedly completed before the sunlight could fade from the field.

To see more of Michael’s work, visit and click on the “paintings” link near the top. You might also be interested in his latest book, a collection of paintings and essays from Campobello Island.


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