Let's meet Tanya Johnston!

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Let's meet Tanya Johnston!

At Milan Art Gallery we have many amazing unique artists, but who are they? What inspires them and what can we learn from them?

Today we interviewed Tanya Johnston. An artist who makes whimsical paintings with line work you've never seen before. In this blog we will dive a bit deeper into her world of art.


Hi Tanya, can you tell us a bit about where you're from? 

New Zealand >  The Coromandel Peninsula > Mercury Bay > Whitianga  (Te Whitianga-o-Kupe)

Whitianga is short for Te Whitianga-o-Kupe (Kupe's crossing place). In Māori tradition, Kupe was an early explorer who visited Aotearoa = “Land of the long white cloud” (New Zealand). The bay which Whitianga sits on was called Te Whanganui-o-Hei (Hei's great bay), after a tupuna (ancestor) from the Te Arawa canoe (a group that migrated to New Zealand who travelled across the pacific to settle there) who had settled at the bay.

What do you love to paint?

I love to paint figures in a storytelling way.

Have you always been a painter?

I always loved art and started to work on skills as a young adult but started pursuing it as my main focus in 2001. I know painting is something I was meant to do because my desire to do it never wanes. Every night i’m sad that I have to call it a day. Every morning I can’t wait to try again, always pursuing a more excellent way.

What do you love most about your job?

The creating ,making, building of something and the sense of creating a visual declaration. Painting is such an incredible way to access a stream of open conversation between yourself and the Creator, it brings a lot of healing.  

What do you hope to achieve in 5 years?

Self-suffiency, being able to support organizations that are close to my heart, to set-up legacy income streams for my grandchildren. To be able to live anywhere with the ability to generate income whether i’m asleep or awake, to make art that I love, to be inspired and inspiring, to bring the healing of art practice to those who need it for emotional and mental healing.

In what kind of space would you love to hang your art?

Wherever it’s meant to be for it to do its job: Prisons & Palaces, under bridges and on cafe walls, in bedrooms and quiet reflective places, in loud and bustling places, and galleries with friends for fun. Always where the people are that need to see it.

What inspires you?

God, Creation, emotional storms, passion, the true true, authenticity, wild & beautiful, beautiful and wild, restraint, extravance, purity, innocence, femininity, masculinity, contrast, the elements especially water and fire and wind, turbulence and calm, dancing in the rain with friends, knowing and being known, friendship, loyalty, integrity, fidelity, a motherly nurturing love, the human story, myths, legends, archetypes, layered truth and meaning, symbolism, metaphor, color, connection.

What artists do you admire?

Van Gogh, Klimnt, Monet, Manet, John William Waterhouse, Sargeant, da Vinci, the Pre-Raphelites, Solomon Joseph Solomon and countless others old and modern.

What would your dream studio look like?

A lounge area for visitors, an area for my guitars and music making, great natural light, streaming music and filming set-ups, the ability to set up tables to teach or host various paint sessions with others, a well organized space and a sink, fridge and coffee/tea making facilities.

What has been your coolest project so far?

Creating sources and paintings for my latest (and first) official show

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