Originally from New York, Jeff has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design but still considers himself to be an outsider artist. His fascinations from the earliest age are the animation worlds of Walt Disney, Popeye and Tex Avery. He sites the moment he lost his innocence around the age of seven, when he was chaperoned by one of the neighborhood mothers to a theater in the old part of town, with a packed station
wagon of friends, to see the masterpiece Pinocchio. “When Pinocchio went to Pleasure Island it was over for both of us. I turned the same color green. Although, I was unaware at the time, that movie showed me how powerful art can be.”
He also shares a similar obsession for artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Philip Guston and the German Expressionists. While becoming an established animator in LA, working as a character animator for Disney, Warner Bros. and the Simpsons, he continues to paint, and celebrates that it’s possible to put the beginning, middle and end of a story on a single piece of canvas or paper. “I’m interested in the kind of art that has a high pitched timber or heightened reality. Cartoons and expressionism instantly bring you to a unique place,
while at he same time they pay homage to the every day world that inspires it.”
His love of movement is often transferred to his paintings with a thick impasto technique and areas of drawn forms. He acknowledges that many of his paintings are in fact colored drawings. Other influences are Pop Artists; Paul McCarthy and Joyce Pensato. As they previously borrowed familiar pop culture icons to say something unique, he too wants to tell his own personal stories with seemingly familiar faces or with his own, not so familiar, cartoonish cast that are guaranteed to be off model.
Jeff Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles