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Local Artist: John Johnston from Clovelly

By James Hutton on January 26, 2021 in People

Enjoying the challenge of an empty canvas. Photo: Fiona Johnston

Introducing Clovelly artist John Johnston, the 84-year-old talent behind this month’s cover painting of Clovelly Beach and promenade…

How long have you lived here? I moved from Centennial Park to Clovelly with my dear wife and infant baby back in 1977 and have been here ever since. I arrived in Sydney in 1964, from Scotland where I was born and educated, and I’ve lived in Sydney since 1972. As Paul Keating said, “If you don’t live in Sydney, you are just camping out.”

Best thing about the Eastern Suburbs? It is so handy for work in the CBD, close to the airport with excellent medical facilities, good local schools, multicultural cuisine and glorious beaches. The wonderful art deco buildings in the region are an added attraction. And the weather is usually good.
Worst thing about the Eastern Suburbs? The continuous renovations and re-development, and its broken down neglected footpaths are a hazard for the elderly.

What’s your favourite beach? My favourite beach is Clovelly. It’s small and family friendly, and within walking distance.

What’s your favourite eatery? For a meal, pre-COVID, Coogee Legion Club or Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club in Bondi Junction.

Where do you like to have a drink? I don’t drink much, only birthdays and Christmas, etc.

What do you get up to on the weekends? On weekends I paint and go for walks around Centennial Park or to the local beaches.

What do you do for work? I have been retired for many years. I was a dental surgeon, and also served in the Army Reserve for a long time. My favourite thing about work was helping people solve their problems.

How would you describe your art? I do portraits and landscapes in watercolour, charcoal and acrylic. I am now about to start painting in oils. I try to develop my skills in every branch of art such as drawing, painting, and in various media. I’m always experimenting with different techniques. I enjoy art and I wish to continually improve and expand my skills. I paint for myself and do paintings and drawings for family, friends and neighbours. I enjoy the challenge of an empty canvas.

Who are your artistic inspirations? My developing artistic talents are based on studying and copying the masters such as Michelangelo, Vermeer, Turner and Ingres.

What are you working on at the moment? I have just completed a portrait of my daughter, and I am now doing a Scottish landscape in watercolour.

Do you have any exhibitions coming up? None at present, I’m building up my portfolio.

Did you study art? I did a bit of drawing and painting at junior high school, but only took up art about two years ago, after my wife died. I attended a few WEA art courses in the city, but COVID has cancelled any more early in the year.

Any words of wisdom for young aspiring artists? The more you practise, the better you become. Everyone can draw and paint, so try everything. Age is no barrier, older people still have value.

Do you have a favourite quote? “Life is not measured in years, but in deeds.”

Any other words of wisdom for readers of The Beast? Help others.