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Artist blooms in later years

Globally recognized artist displays paintings in Linden Ponds art show

Created date

May 22nd, 2012

As the high school painting course came to an end, the instructor asked each student for one canvas to exhibit. But when he reached Arlene D. Johnson, he said, I ll take all ten of yours. That s telling me something, thought Arlene, who now lives at Linden Ponds, the Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass. Even so, Arlene s parents and her first husband dissuaded her from painting, encouraging her to spend time on what they deemed more practical endeavors. She tabled her artistic inclinations and raised five children. After all five children were grown, I finally decided I was going to do what I wanted to do, she says. It s a feeling you have, something you want very much to do. It s so important to follow what your soul wants you to do.

Soulful endeavor

Arlene followed her soul and began studying oil painting in Gloucester, Mass., depicting scenes from nature in New England flowers, beaches, and lighthouses. With the support of her second husband, Arlene also began watercolor painting at their home on Cape Cod. She mastered the more unforgiving medium, learning to use white space and choosing her brushstrokes carefully. Whereas artists can more easily remedy mistakes made in oil, Arlene explains, errors in watercolor typically result in a trashed canvas. As she mastered her craft, Arlene treated herself to one week each year on Bailey Island in Maine, where she could paint at 2 a.m., have lobster for breakfast if she so desired, she says. She has also painted the snowy mountains of Vermont, where she skies each year, and she has painted the east and west coasts of the U.S. In the 40 years since she picked up her paintbrushes as an adult, wholeheartedly delving into her lifelong dream, Arlene has sold numerous paintings to both individuals and organizations. She takes great pleasure in the fact that her paintings are hanging across the country from Oregon to the local Falmouth Hospital, which has 31 of her paintings and across the world, from Thailand to Africa. This spring Arlene exhibited 18 of her paintings in Linden Ponds art gallery in a show titled Art in Bloom that coincided with a weeklong display of live floral arrangements created by people who live at Linden Ponds. A number of Arlene s serene and colorful floral paintings graced the gallery, including one watercolor scene of the Linden Ponds gardens. A lover of nature and of sunflowers in particular, Arlene has her own garden space in the community. Exhibit-goers signed a guestbook with messages Arlene treasures. I can t tell you the pleasure I got from it, she says.

Poetic expression

The exhibit also featured poetry, including Arlene s ode to the sunflower titled Sunshine Faces. Arlene began writing poetry 15 years ago, shortly after she read The Artist s Way, a book that suggests writing upon waking each morning for 12 days. More than ten volumes of work later, Arlene admits with a smile, I can t stop doing it. Arlene s creativity flows steadily. She continues to write regularly, and she paints in the northern light that filters into the second bedroom of her apartment home. The walls are covered in small, bright oil paintings. Arlene s most recent exhibit at Linden Ponds was her second large-scale display since she and her husband moved to the community four years ago from Cape Cod. In addition to her creative work, Arlene swims every morning in the community s heated indoor pool, walks throughout the campus, and participates in yoga classes. If you re going to do it, you have to do it when you re still able to do it, she says of her move to Linden Ponds.