Medium: Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
Vashti Johnstone is a contemporary New Zealand painter living and working on the West Coast, South Island.
At a young age, Vashti started to discover her visual language that lead to studying a diploma in painting Aoraki Polytechnic 1999-2001.
Exhibiting since 2006, Johnstone has been a multiple finalist in several art awards, she was recently judged the Premium Award Winner, ASA show at the Ashburton Art Gallery 2018, and invited as a guest artist 2020.
2019 Vashti was an artist in residence at Queenstown Contemporary gallery. Painting in the space as she developed her body of work and exhibiting alongside other artists who were interested in pushing their practice in exciting new ways.
After many years living and drawing inspiration from Rural mid-Canterbury, Johnstone is now based in Greymouth where she continues to develop her unique style of Art, using charcoal and layering paint on canvas, often drawing inspiration from the pulse of the earth, rivers, roots, veins, branches, ridge lines the elements, and all living creatures.
Johnstone’s painting process allows the painting to evolve organically, as nature does, finding beauty in every layer. The process for each Artwork and every series unique.
‘I celebrate the absolute importance of making Art. Respecting and inspired by the lineage of creators that have gone before me and create bedside me.
Always the art work gives more back.
I love making and being shifted by art.’
My painting west•weka is an interpretation of timeless moments in the bush. Celebrating the intense availability of regeneration and serenity.
Bold confident brush strokes, playfully representing the push and pull of growth.
A warm salute to the sunshine that is offering deep roots and length of limbs.
‘Root down to rise up’ is a mantra I embody and seek to create visually in this artwork.
The unique damp smells of the mosses, trees and forest floors, shining through in the colours and dripping down the canvas. Celebrating the treasure of plenty of rain.
A bright powerful bloom of the Rata flower, symbolising life and the living.
The silhouette of the weka, a light imprint of the birds coming and going in this enriching timelessness.
Living through this COVID pandemic has been very interesting for me as an artist. There have been huge moments of unknown, shows and possible collaborations that were scheduled. Questioning if I start painting for them or not?
The choices made were very much based on what I could make happen at the time.
Having our whole family home, being together and slowing right down offered me an even deeper connection to the concept of less is more. Really testing this when I had no access to stretched canvas or more paint, I found driftwood at the beach and created some drift•walkers. It also prompted me to build and stretch canvases with the help of my partner. Remembering using initiative and making some form of art is always possible.
I certainly have a huge sense of gratitude for the art materials accessible to me everyday.
My approach to my art practise now is feeling quiet, steady and un rushed, I see this is already beginning to soften my work.
Pandemic or not, change in everything is a constant.