Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 2017 Holiday Letter from Michael

Capilla de la Noche
12x16 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson

(What follows is my December newsletter.  You may already have received this via e-mail as part of my mailing list.)

Trina and I are enjoying our new place in New Mexico very much. I can sit by my studio window in the warm sunshine with a cup of tea and enjoy vistas of ranches and hills. If I need a break from painting, several trails right outside the house lead me to high sandstone cliffs where I can look down upon our quiet lake or, more distant, out toward the Chain of Craters. The lake is now nearly covered in ice, and most of the ducks and coots have flown for open water to the south. Although nights are cold, daytime is wonderfully warm in the strong sunshine. Most times, a fleece jacket is all I need for a midday hike.

Below is some news of my doings, past and future.  You may find that perfect holiday gift for the special someone--who might even be you!


This winter, I plan to work on my studio series of what I call Transformative Paintings
. I've made one so far with more to follow. You can see them as they are posted at These paintings move beyond the physical plane and into the spiritual. Living where we do now, sandwiched between two very spiritual places—the Zuni and Navajo reservations—I feel as if I have one foot on Earth, and the other in the spirit world. I'm excited to be working on these.

I'll also be working on a big painting for the 2018 Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, which will be due at the end of March so it can be included in the catalog. Will this painting be part of my Transformative series? We'll see! You can read more on this prestigious event below.

The “Acadia Invitational III” invitational exhibition continues at Argosy Gallery in Bar Harbor, Maine. I attended the opening last July, and I can say this is a stunning show with many masterful paintings. The exhibit will continue until October 2018, but don't delay! Paintings are selling. You can get more details at and see the paintings online at

By the way, for those of you who enjoy seeing the process behind my work, I've begun posting demonstrations on my website. You can find these at


September 2018 will make my fifth appearance as an invited artist at the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art!
I can't tell you how pleased I am to be part of this event again. I'm happy not just because I do well with regard to sales, but also because I get to meet old friends and make new ones—plus I get to paint some of the world's most stunning scenery. Dates for the event are September 9-16, with the sales continuing till January 14, 2019. Details at

Workshops & Retreats

I have many workshops and retreats coming up
. You can find the full list of plein air paiting workshops on my website, but here are a few ones that I want to make sure you know about.

Plein Air Painting Intensive. How'd you like to work right next to a professional artist for a week and bring your painting to the next level? In this new program, we'll work together, one-on-one, to establish and work toward a goal I design specifically for you. I've set aside weeks in February, March and April for this program for painters with experience. Details at under “Private Painting Intensive Study.”

Sedona, Arizona. I am now scheduling only two all-level workshops a year in my old stomping grounds of Sedona, Arizona. The next and only one this spring will be March 27-30, 2018. If you'd like to paint the beautiful red rocks—and sycamores, canyons and creeks—please visit under “All Level Program.” All level, all media.

Lowell, Michigan. This workshop runs May 7-9, 2018, at the Franciscan Life Process Center, a beautiful setting for painting. This will be springtime in rural Michigan! All levels, pastel or oil. For details and to register, please visit

Certaldo Alto, Italy. June 16-23, 2018. Join me at Villa Fattoria Bac├Čo in Tuscany for a week of sketching and exploring! We'll have excursions to Siena and other romantic spots. All levels, all media. For full details, download the flyer at

Lubec, Maine. August 12-17, 2018. I have just a few spots left in this painting retreat in Downeast Maine. Lodging is at West Quoddy Station, a beautifully-renovated US Coast Guard campus. All media, experienced painters. For details, download the flyer at

Also this summer in Lubec, I'll be teaching all-level workshops in July and August. For full details on this “paint by the seaside” program, visit One week, August 21-24, 2018, I'll be teaching in Bernard for Acadia Workshop Center. This is a very popular time of year to go to Mount Desert Island, so make sure you sign up soon. Sign up at

The Ohio Plein Air Society has invited me to judge their annual exhibition and to teach a workshop for them in Cincinnati October 1-3, 2018. I'm looking forward to working with this group! Details on the workshop will be announced soon.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. October 24-27, 2018. This is a once-in-a-lifetime workshop for me, since the workshop is sponsored not only by the Grand Canyon Field Institute but also Grand Canyon National Park. We'll have special access to the park and a van, so we won't have to ride the shuttles. After several years of painting up at the Canyon, I have many great spots picked out for us. Also, if you like to camp, you get complimentary (free!) camping during the workshop—as well as free access to the Park. Sign up now at

That's all for now. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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