SPOTLIGHT April 17-23, 2014
By Christina Martin
Anouk Johanna: Artist / Teacher
After 35 years spent engraving and creating scrimshaw jewelry, artist Anouk Johanna hung up her tools upon discovering that she has osteoarthritis in her thumbs. She felt it was a sign to stop practicing scrimshaw (after a long professional and traveling career in the medium) and instead focus on making and teaching fine art. Two years have passed since that decision and Johanna has had a chance to fully indulge in the other mediums she's skilled at: drawing, painting, ceramic sculpture, and monotype. She's also become a recognized local instructor at places like the Santa Cruz Mountain Art Center, the Live Oak Senior Center and the Capitola Recreation Center, where she teaches watercolor, mixed media and basic art techniques. Painter Jennifer Almodova practices what she calls 'sneaky realism.' (Contributed)
One of the most original things she teaches is watercolor monotype: "It's a way to loosen up and not be so attached to an image," she says. "Once you print the image, it is going to look totally different from what you painted and it forces you to see it differently. Then you can hook into the 'new' image and start enhancing certain parts and create a new painting. A lot of students who pull their first monotype are so overwhelmed by the 'strange beauty' of the image that they do not want to touch it but just leave it as the final artwork."
Sharing her talents with others, Johanna says, is as creative as the actual making of art. She explains that teaching and creating often "inspire and inform each other." This symbiosis was one of the main reasons she decided to become a teacher. "I especially like the interaction with like-minded souls and to be part of this special world for a few hours at the time where we all influence each other and feed off each other's creative energy," says Johanna. "It is so different from working alone."
Among Johanna's students are quite a few children, teens and retired women. "It blows my mind to see how a woman deep into her eighties can suddenly evolve into a fabulous expressionistic painter, just as I have seen a 6-year-old create wonderful, expressive and sophisticated art," she says. "One of the important things students need to learn is to realize the importance of so-called 'mistakes' because they are the steppingstones on the road to becoming a better artist. If you want to be a good artist you first have to be willing to be a bad artist."Learn more about Johanna at anoukjohanna.com. She will have an exhibit at the Cooper Street Hair Salon at the Galleria in downtown Santa Cruz from May through July.
Artist Anouk Johanna has become enamored of the watercolor monotype. (Contributed)