Posts tagged Studio
Studio Sundays: April Zanne Johnson

April Zanne Johnson (b. 1970) is a graduate of Parsons School of Design/The New School for Social Research (1993) and received her M.F.A. at Montclair State University (2013). Her studio is in a rural northwest community in New Jersey.

April's work has been added to the permanent collection of the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center in Brooklyn, NYC. She has work held by several private collectors in Mexico City, New York City, North Carolina, Los Angeles, London and Australia. (Notable collectors including composer Javier Navarrete & actor Perdita Weeks) Honors include; Best of 2013, Saatchi Art, London U.K., curated by Rebecca Wilson, spotlighted in the series: One to Watch.  April was awarded Herhusid Artist Residency in Iceland. She was the Dedalus Foundation Fellowship Nominee as well as the Nominee for Executive Women of New Jersey Graduate Merit Scholarship Award chosen by the Montclair State University graduate faculty (2012,2013). Inka Essenhigh selected April for the Atlantic Center for the Arts Artist Residency in 2015.  In 2016, April was included as an IASAS Founding Member (International Association of Synaesthetes, Artists and Scientists).

Her work has been featured in numerous publications internationally. 

Statement of Artistic Approach

Zanne Johnson is a visual artist who perceives a combination of translucent color fields and patterns with sound and physical sensation. This creates the base for selected color and form development in the work.  The paintings meld neurological phenomena, biomorphic landscape imagery, perceptions in sexuality and a notion of the absurd.  Organic in form, the surfaces are slick and appear wet. 

Select portfolios contain oil paintings on translucent plexiglass and drafting film that deviate from tradition. They are set to stand off from the wall to allow natural light to interact with surface as a sculptural object.  The intention is to engage with the viewer's own neurological predictive coding, provoke questions and generate communication.

Zanne Johnson’s entire body of work revolves around creating multiple parallel planes existing within our own world and plays with fluctuating size and scale.   Reoccurring themes in the work include neurological predictive coding, technology compared to the biological world, and battles in the microscopic landscape. 

Studio photos by Thyra Johnson-Kelly

Studio Sundays: Chloe York

Abstract painter, Chloe York earned her BFA from Memphis College of Art in 2012. She has displayed her work in over 100 group and solo exhibitions throughout the mid-South and her solo exhibit, Decorators was named one of Memphis’s top ten visual art exhibits for 2013. She currently resides in Birmingham with sculptor, Eric Quick and ferocious daughter, Echo in their shared home and studio.

“My work explores identity, outward appearances, and the manner in which we decorate ourselves.”
— Chloe York

Submit to next week's Studio Sundays feature:

Studio Sundays: Michele Kishita

Michele Kishita is a Philadelphia-based artist who grew up in the vastly different landscapes of rural Central Pennsylvania and the Arizona desert. She uses colors found in nature that are not typically associated with “natural” colors and focuses on water as her primary subject. Kishita lived in Japan and is a Japanese print consultant, authenticating, translating, and appraising woodblock prints for auction houses and collectors. Her paintings are strongly influenced by the graphic, stylized quality of Hiroshige and Hokusai, as well as the compositions of ukiyo-e. Kishita’s paintings are in a number of private/corporate collections, including Toyota and Kaiser Permanente and have been shown extensively on the East Coast. She has been published in Fresh Paint MagazineThe Artist CatalogueCreate Magazine, as well as several literary journals, and was selected to exhibit at the Sharjah Art Museum in the United Arab Emirates. Kishita received both her BFA and MFA in painting from the University of the Arts. 

Studio Sundays: Lisa Denyer

Lisa Denyer graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. In 2010 she received second prize in the Gilchrist Fisher Award, held at Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London. In 2015 she received first prize in the PS Mirabel Open. Solo presentations include Geode at South Square Gallery, Thornton 2014, Paintings as Objects at PS Mirabel, Manchester 2016, and MM Open Studio at Galerie Martin Mertens, Berlin 2017. Other exhibitions include About Painting at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester 2014, Contemporary British Abstraction at SE9 Container Gallery, London 2015, Sobre fragmentos y materia (two person show) at Kir Royal, Madrid 2017, and Contemporary Masters from Britain at Yantai Art Museum, China 2017. Lisa is based in Berlin.

Artist Statement

My practice looks at the contrast between the slow, considered process of painting against the sensory overload of daily life, and how contemporary painting deals with those polarities. The work relates to the body, the physical world, the transient nature of city living, the virtual, and the relationship we have with the spaces we inhabit.

The compositions are developed using collage, with a visual language of simple shape and line. Geometric elements are tested in variations before the composition is intuitively set in a dialogue with spontaneous, painterly brushstrokes.

My choice of supports reflects the solidity of materials and the objecthood of paintings. The surfaces are dense and weighty and often handmade; heavy plywood, panel, and sandpaper. These materials are selected for their textual qualities and their ability to withstand multiple layers of paint. The handling of paint and the interaction between the medium and the raw surface upon which it is applied is a primary consideration in my practice.

Studio Sundays: Vanessa Lam

Mixed media painter Vanessa Lam creates dialogue between collage and expressive gestural painting. While pursuing a career in health care, she maintained an interest in art that began with studies at the University of British Columbia. Progressing this interest, Lam entered into Continuing Studies at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. For the past five years, Vanessa has sold and exhibited her work at artist-run and public galleries both locally and internationally.  She was awarded the Vancouver Regional Award and Grand Prize Award for the 2017 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. Her work was also featured in Create Magazine and Uppercase Magazine. Vanessa Lam was recently an artist-in-residence at Takt Projektraum in Berlin, Germany. She currently lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Fun Fact: “Rock climbing gave me the foundation to start and sustain my art practice. It helped me develop discipline, persistence and the confidence to push through self-limiting beliefs.”
— Vanessa Lam
Studio Sundays: Jason Bryant

Born in 1976 in Wilson, NC, Jason Bryant now lives and works in New York, City. Bryant graduated from East Carolina University with a BFA and went on to the Maryland Institute College of Art for his MFA in painting.  Bryant moved to New York City soon after and began work with such notable artists as Kehinde Wiley and Bjarne Melgaard.

Heavily influenced by classic film, Bryant begins each painting by researching images from cinematic moments or magazine images of interest to fit various themes exploring loneliness, vulnerability and frailty. Bryant renders each image, at first as a pencil sketch on canvas without the use of projection and then by transforming the image through oil paint into a photo-realistically and beautifully rendered film still. Bryant then incorporates his signature skateboard graphics, a skateboarder himself, or paints in pixilated areas often cropping the eyes or other notable features of each character.

Bryant’s paintings have been exhibited across the United States, Europe and Australia, are represented by galleries in New York, London and the Gold Coast and are collected worldwide. His work has been featured and covered in Juxtapoz Magazine, Thrasher (U.S. and France), NY Arts Magazine, American Artist and Time Out New York.


A photo, a fingerprint, a signature, and DNA are all methods we use to identify a person, but they are just a means to match a name or face to an individual, not to describe who they are or to translate their identity. For as long as I have been using portraiture as the main focus of my paintings, it is not the identity or recognizable face in which I use to describe my portraits, but more of a blueprint of how I approach portraiture. Many levels go into what makes a person’s portrait. It’s a fabric of many layers, intertwined with a person’s favorite foods, music, and movies. I have used all of these concepts in building my portraits. Stemming from my lifelong love of the cinema, many of the subjects of my paintings are actors and actresses. However, I am not commenting on celebrity or the star system, but I use the celebrity as a hook to bring then viewer in. My work has never focused on the face to describe or examine a portrait. Instead, by cropping or hiding certain features of the face, I add more mystery to the portrait, bringing us to question who we are and what’s beneath the surface.

In my recent series of paintings, I have incorporated my love of skateboarding to explore themes of portraiture. With vibrant visceral iconic skateboard graphics coming from behind or bursting through the elegant black and white images of various actors and actresses, I’ve merged two of the most important parts of my life, skateboarding and art. I use the traditional format of the portrait, to simultaneously, comment on identity and create portraits that mean so much more than just the individual being painted. With most of my paintings, the figure is the focal point, but when all of the elements of the painting come into play, the work really explores the identity of others, not the subject being painted. There is so much to be learned from a person’s portrait, information that goes well beyond the face.

Studio Sundays: Chantal Khoury

Chantal Khoury (b 1986) is originally from New Brunswick, Canada but has been based in Montreal since 2006.  She obtained her BFA with distinction from Concordia University in 2012 and has been developing her practice ever since. Ongoing themes in her work examine the figure within contemporary portraiture, most often through her female characters. In recent years, her interest in memory and group dynamics have lead her work in a narrative direction. Her latest series Home and Haven was exhibited most recently in a solo exhibition at The Belgo Building in Montreal and will travel to Eastern Canada for another solo exhibition in 2018.  She has exhibited widely across Canada, in numerous solo and group exhibitions and her work was part of the 2017 Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition: Tradition Transformed at the Orillia Museum of Art & History. She has worked as an instructor at The Beaverbrook Art Gallery and her work is found in both private and public collections, including the permanent collection of the University of New Brunswick. She is represented by Gallery On Queen in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

My artistic practice works both within and outside the conventional aspects of representational painting and drawing. It is anchored in the realm of figuration and landscape, with an expressionist approach to image-making. During the past several years, an ongoing theme has addressed the female ‘self’, where my characters’ identities are repurposed and re-imagined.

More recently, my interests lie in selective memory as I examine my own childhood, my place in the Lebanese diaspora and my relationship to ‘longing’ within the Canadian landscape; these subjects act as a point of departure.  My work takes on site-specific locations and addresses them through an idyllic lens. My resource material is pulled from found images and family photos while experimentation plays a major role in my process. My current series, Home and Haven explores the effects of selective memory over time by focusing on my own relationship to my childhood in Atlantic Canada. My practice always involves an exploratory approach to colour experimentation and composition, no matter the theme I am working on.

Fun Fact: My resource images are from my father's photos ( he is a photographer) which are already idealized. My works takes the images even further into the ideal and the utopian.

Studio Sundays: Jay Riggio

Jay Riggio, a self-taught visual artist, was born in Long Island, New York in 1978. Utilizing original source material from discarded magazines and books, Riggio’s work brings new life to once forgotten imagery through complex, handcut and pasted, mixed media collages. His works depict dream-inspired stories through unique, surrealistic visual pairings: a reflection of the artists interpretations on life, love, humor and the human condition.

In addition to exhibiting work in galleries around the world, Riggio has done commercial illustrations for brands likeGather JournalThe New York TimesBrooklyn Magazine, Alice McCall, A24 Films and more. 

Jay currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

Studio Sundays: Wendy Matenga

Create. This is something Wendy Matenga has always done. She was brought up in a bus that her father renovated so they could be wherever he needed to dredge for gold. If they dwelt in a paddock for a while her mother always planted flowers. This upbringing instilled in her that you could make anything you imagined, and that nature is boundless.

She is now enjoying success as a self-taught artist living in Nelson New Zealand. There are many things that she loves to craft; painting however is her chosen medium to express life. With the support of her husband she has been able to focus on growing herself artistically and develop the technical skills needed to get her thoughts from mind to canvas.


Painterly realism with contemporary twist.

My current body of work focuses on flowers, their fragile nature and the impact that light has on them. I also have a fascination with the term “bouquet” and it’s meaning “a collection of flowers in a creative arrangement” and playing with how far I can push that idea. The works always start with my love of capturing light on their delicate petals with photography, and then I like to push the boundaries of floristry with my paintbrush.

I draw the truth of what I see, as I love the light, but then I never know exactly where the work is going to go. Because accurate rendering still doesn’t capture that feeling you get when you have flowers in your home, or when you have been gifted them by a loved one. I desire to represent the vibrancy it offers, often with patterns or something purely from the imagination. 

Sometimes I will change the proportions of an object because that’s the thing that drawing me in, that’s what needs to be in focus. Illustration is also a part of my artistic process, with paper capturing a notion before the canvas does.

I am still astonished by the kind of people my work draws to me, there is something really special and kind hearted about nature lovers and gardeners. The positivity around this subject matter spurs me on to put more of it in to the world.

Studio Sundays: Geoffrey Stein 

Geoffrey Stein is a recovering lawyer, who has been painting full-time since 2000. He received an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2007. Stein lives and paints in New York City. He is represented by the Minster Gallery in the UK and online at, and 


I paint to find out what I think about the world; to discover the things I do not have words for. I savor the slips of the hand that express one’s unconscious feelings about the person being painted. I am interested in the conversation between abstraction and realism. I do not want to make an academic copy of the model or a photo realistic illustration. My paintings explore the tension between what needs to be shown and what does not, the seen and the unseen.

Fun fact: "I am a recovering lawyer."

Studio Sundays: Ingrid Wells

Ingrid V. Wells has been painting for close to a decade, having shown internationally, she’s earned multiple degrees in the field. Her work fancies the fantastic and humorous in theme and the charming, the kitschy, and the celebrity in subject. Wells’s paintings investigate the world of gendered consumerism and the ethics of fascination. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Daily Mail, BUST Magazine, and Teen Vogue, among others. Wells currently lives and works in San Francisco.

Wells Studio2.JPG

Fun Fact: 

“I like to have dance parties in my studio when taking a break from painting. I find that any opportunity to bring fun into my practice is worthwhile.”
— Ingrid Wells
Nikoleta Sekulovic at Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery

Aletheia - the Greek philosophical term that defines ‘unveiling, uncovering, the Greek notion of Truth

Nikoleta Sekulovic creates in the tradition of Odalisque portraiture, and yet by choosing to paint mothers, she redefines her subject as both parent and muse. 

The female form is depicted in a muted palette, devoid of props and distractions.  Through this, Sekulovic strips her subject of external expectations, revealing them in a more authentic state as opposed to traditional expressions of sexuality. The looser lines celebrate the imperfections and irregularities of the human body and recall Egon Schiele's Vienna and the minimalism of Gustav Klimt's studies.

'My approach so far has been to focus on less rather than more. I try to use fewer lines and a simple colour palette. I search for ways to bring movement into the contours of the figure or into the skin. I believe the figure needs to breath. It needs to reflect something of the human fabric, which is that we are both orderly as well as complex, angular as well as curved.'

A mother herself, Sekulovic’s process becomes as much about productivity as about reduction. Painting is a time to step back into the studio for still reflection on the different elements of her subject matter, who in turn is pared down and given repose on the canvas.  As Sekulovic has observed,  ‘muse’ as a noun represents a source of artistic inspiration. But as a verb, it means ‘to think about something carefully and for a long time’. 

Sekulovic was born in Rome to a German mother and a Serbian father and is presently working in Madrid. She has exhibited in London, Paris and New York. Her first collection for the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, the exhibition's paintings take their titles from the fundamental principles of Greek philosophy. Just as Sekulovic looks back on these basic precepts for inspiration, she in turn presents an unadulterated and honest version of femininity.

November 29 - December 22

For more information please visit

Studio Sundays: Sébastien Layral

"Sebastien Layral comes from the woods and the earth. He carries the proud serenity of the Causse on his shoulders. Born in Rodez, the strong hills, he immediately became part of the elements. To note his belonging to a lineage, he readily evokes rough men, a direct relation to things and beings, an art of being camped on one’s ground.

Primitive roughness ... today the brute canvas of the paintings which he stretches and prepares himself, laborer of the initial earth. From childhood, which he barely talks about, emerged the fiery desire, from the age of eight, to take a different path. Not that of the father or the clan, not that assigned by other people’s judgments, conveniences or norms. Far from the sirens of possession, it was a question of creating, of imagining ... After dreaming of being a surgeon and then a priest, he was caught in the waves of a constant desire to draw. A certain continuity, if one looks back. Desire, which is the focus of the subject, can no doubt be formulated thus: to move between the lines, to take place where no one expects it, to become something other.

After a Bachelor's degree in applied arts, his experience at the Fine Arts Institute in Toulouse, from 1992 to 1995, placed a thorn in the wound opened in these days. Painting was no longer fashionable at the time, figuration even less. In between the student Layral and the school existed a profound misunderstanding. Dismissed without explanation before the end of his third year, he developed a bitterness at the time which has transformed, in retrospect, into lucid thought. The lessons of this disappointment are diverse and essentially fruitful. First a stubbornness: if painting was so badly considered, then this was the path Sebastien was to explore. Then, after closing the door, he forgot the history of art. The matter was closed. No hard drive, only random access memory. Finally, as if in order to fill a vacuum, he developed a strong taste for philosophy.
Little by little, the tripod he set up became his guideline : think, say, do.
A balance between concept, relationship and experimentation.

To be an artist is above all to explore the field of possibilities, to examine closely the main principles in order to better shake them. Becoming oneself by questioning what is and what once was, through the rigor of the process and faith in the adventure. A nomadism that evokes Robert Filliou’s formula : whatever you do, do something else. A funny paradox is that the Air Force, where he performed his military service as a photo lab manager, offered him a large room where he could do whatever he wanted ; paint.

Every course conceals its steps, its back roads. In reality, these are very often approaches. Before opening an art studio in 1998 and thus making art his career, Sebastien Layral worked two years in an institute that worked with young autists. The concept was to produce an exhibition of their art work. One can easily imagine what was at stake in this project in the light of the artist's future approach: to hear the voice - even unlikely, even tiny - of the other, to put oneself at his service, in one way or another and follow his point of view. My nature is not my nature, it does not bother me to change it. At the end of this necessarily experimental parenthesis, the path was laid, plowed by reason and emotion. The artist knew that to advance was to question (onself), and that the answers were not the goal. He knew how to advance in a sick society, which admits only one point of view and imposes it violently.

For several years, Sebastien Layral lived an internal crisis that almost secluded him in the art studio and at the same time unleashed a fiery search. It is difficult to say for the artist what questioned, consciously or not, and guided this quest. Maybe this: who am I? How to be the tree-self in the forest of other-possibles? In this great rustling silence, self-portraits and portraits would be the path, enriched, enlarged from one experience to the next.

From the outset, the artist inscribed the presence of others in his own appearance. By inserting his face into bodies borrowed from the clichés of press magazines or downloaded by Internet users encountered on a forum, he initiated with this "common self-portrait" an interactive approach that was to become enriched.

I am (in) another. You are (in the heart of) me.

At the beginning of the years 2000, Sebastien Layral placed the construction of each (self) portrait as a game of exchange, relation and gesture, via tools - computers, webcams, screens ... Even if for a very short time, the model’s intervention guided the painter’s work, even contradicting it. The model is for me the center of everything. The exchanges, virtual or not, very quickly cross the tactile and the flesh: texts of hidden conversations in the canvas, the artist’s imprint, and later tattoos performed in public. By giving the model the opportunity to observe, comment, guide, and soon intervene in his work, he revisited the art of the portrait fixed by centuries of convention, rigidified in a relation of domination in which the subject tends to become an object: inert, consenting, mute.

Conversely, Sebastien Layral has constantly introduced the model on the canvas to give him or her the tools of his or her own emancipation.

The "peintomaton", developed in 2004, marked a form of orientation for performance art. Visitors at the exhibitions were invited to become models, instantly. While the audience attended this live painting, the painter adapted his movements and even the changes made by the model.
In this way, the ideal triangle was formed : artist / model / public, where everyone’s position changes, where the desire to be the other, even if only for a brief moment through a repositioning of acquired positions invites the subject to come out of his comfort zone.

As of 2005, several exhibitions whose subject were the "ego" becoming an abundant @go, Layral refined the principles that shaped his work: think, say, do. His art gradually increased his reflexive dimension, expressed by values r virtues: openness, emotion, doubt, energy, desire. Faith in the power of words - his own, those of others - was also widening: whether it was said, inscribed, coded, tattooed, they anchored the painting in a momentum that goes beyond the mere act of painting.

An ever-broader confidence came when the public, visitors, close friends, strangers adhered to his dream of sharing with the public. My act of rebellion is to love, unlike what our society proposes.

As for the power to do, it also intensified when the artist agreed to give up details in place of energy in his exhibit INO ONI (2011-2013): made unsacred, fragile, ephemeral, painting was even more so a path leading to the other.

A retrospective in 2012, spiced up with a touch of self-derision, confirmed how this double movement - art in series and constant renewal - led him on the river banks of becoming a fully mature artist. Another relationship to time was emerging: slower, longer, more abandoned to patience. The time it takes, how good it is to lose some in order to gain something else ; increased balance and density. The artist’s early beginnings in Aikido revealed a journey in which everything is linked: painting, writing, inscribing, tattooing, grasping, falling, and rising.

Dispossession, which was a watermark from the very beginning, more recently translated into the series DESIRE (2014), was indeed the breeding ground for the roots of the tree to infiltrate.
By depositing the arms of ego, erasing narcissistic temptation as much as possible, humans become subjects and mirrors of each other.

Today, Sebastien Layral works in an open art studio that you can see from the street in Châtel-Guyon.

In summer, he installs a small living room on his doorstep: a bench, a ficus tree, water or coffee. His models are often those who stop to visit. In this former store, he trades proximity, love and peace. Painting is a way to enter a person’s truth in an affirmative manner."

Studio Sundays: Sean Martorana
“It’s very important for me to have an inspiring place to work. A perfect studio is one where you feel comfortable making anything you want. From drawing to building or sculpting anything can be accomplished.”
— Sean Martorana

Sean Martorana is a 2001 graduate in graphic design from The Art Institute of Philadelphia. Upon his graduation, Sean was immediately hired at a print shop where he helped customer with small design jobs. While doing so, Sean expanded the services of the print shop to include full-fledged brand development and marketing. Following the next logical step, Sean (with financial and business backing from the shop’s owner) branched off and founded the visual design, marketing and communications firm THE_STUDIO.

After over 6 years of successfully running THE_STUDIO, Sean left to begin building his own artistic and designer brand. Aside from his own line of paintings, designs, prints, and clothing/accessories, Sean has been collaborating with other artists and companies to develop designs in interior decor, clothing, jewelry, watches and other accessories. Sean has been featured in large media outlets for his innovation in art and design, including pieces created by sourcing social media for fan input.

“It’s a full collaboration between the designer and the interactivity of the consumer. The consumer brings that final brush stroke to any design by wearing it, living with it and making it a part of their lives.”

His work has been shown in galleries, featured in national publications and commissioned by passionate individuals. Sean thrives on partnering with like-minded artists and designers. He is engaged by the cross-pollination of print media, fashion, architecture, interiors and homes. Building a company at THE_STUDIO, he is constantly exploring and finding new way to expand his versatility and enhance his work. One cannot help but be moved by his aggressive symbolism and iconic imagery.

Studio photos courtesy of Colleen Stepanian.