A kind of blu

Artist Trudy Johnson creates detailed, sensuous works that are more expressive than her quiet nature would otherwise suggest.

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Posted October 27, 2022 | By Julie Garisto

Trudy Johnson at FAFO’s Ocala Arts Festival on Sunday, October 23, 2022. [Julie Garisto]

“Rasta” – Charcoal on gray paper

Trudy Johnson goes by “bluwallflower” on Instagram, a nom de plume that reflects her self-professed tendency toward introversion as well as her favorite color.

She adores birds and painting them. Her glasses, fittingly, are robin-egg blue. 

Johnson’s aesthetic both on and off the easel reveals a refined sensuality and love of nature, and an eye for detail and balance. Serenity pervades her work. Her subjects are an ever-changing cavalcade of figures and locales, from peacocks to Rastafarians to dilapidated buildings.

Though she may be shy in person, Johnson is expressive in her illustrations. From wrinkles to eye twinkles, she has a knack for capturing character. 

“I love faces,” she said. “Every face tells a story. The human face is limitless in expression. I like painting old faces; I like older people. I like painting people with hats on, people with glasses, women with wraps on their heads.”

Originally from Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Johnson moved to Summerfield a little less than a year ago to be near a close friend. Not long after, her first local solo show, “For the Sake of Horses and Ballerinas,” adorned the walls of Ocala City Hall this past winter.

She discovered her talent for drawing in primary school, but her elders would warn her about the difficult life of a starving artist.

“I was, like, I’ll never make it,” she said. “So, I pursued something that was a bit more marketable and practical. The next best thing, I thought, was architecture. So, I eventually went to college. I studied building construction and got into the University of Technology in Jamaica. I applied for architecture, but I didn’t get into the course. It was very competitive, and, yeah, a little bit biased, too.” 

“Peacock” – Watercolor and ink

She earned her associate degree in building construction, before later earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in interior design. While pursuing a more marketable career, she said she grew dismayed with the “devious nature” of contractors and corruption in the industry. That’s when she shifted her priorities to art and education.

Johnson traveled to do missionary work. Just before the pandemic, she spent a month in Atuntaqui, Ecuador, and her first art exhibit was in Barbados, a much smaller island than Jamaica, though it enchanted the young artist with its monkeys. While traveling throughout the Caribbean and South America, Johnson gravitated to the brightly colored birds that inspired some of her works.

But that ethereal muse, however, can’t be predicted by situation or place. 

“I paint based on my feelings,” she said. “It’s very easy for me to grab my watercolors and my ink pen and do something because, in my mind, I can do it anywhere. … I like to paint a lot of things. Anything I like, that I live in the moment, I’m going to paint it, so I can’t stick to one subject”. 

Creating art, spending time alone, reading and gardening, and teaching, bring Johnson in touch with her true nature. 

“Teaching people the Bible is where I get most of my confidence,” she said.  “I wish I could transfer some of that to my social life (laughs). I think I would be well-balanced and okay.”

To see more of Trudy Johnson’s work and inquire about purchases and commissions, visit her Instagram page at instagram.com/bluwallflower.