Prolific local artist finds knack for painting

Maureen Johnson has always enjoyed sitting down and creating special unique paintings or hand carvings.

Her passion began in her early years when she would enjoy etching landscapes. In her Grade 11 school year she was approached about painting some big store front signs for a local business.

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Her hobby took off when she and her husband retired and moved to Preeceville in 1995. To gain a little more experience she would drive to Yorkton to attend painting classes with her sister Laurie Krawetz. The first classes involved using water colour medium and Johnson admitted that she never really had a clue how to paint or what she was really doing. Her first water colour painting she created under the direction of Phyllis Herman was a landscape picture that she painted in the late 1990's.

Soon after, a Preeceville Art Group was founded with 13 members at the time of creation. They would meet weekly at the school, share ideas and encourage one another. "There are only five of us left in the group now after a lot moved away and we just don't have a space for a location for us anymore," said Johnson. "Art is a learned passion. Every painting or creation is different.”

When the COVID pandemic hit, Johnson made a decision that every Friday she would set aside everything else and just do a paint day on her own to help her keep active and keep her mind occupied.

She has used other mediums including oil, pastels and acrylic paints. "I don't like working with oil paint as it takes so long to dry and can be difficult to work with. My favourites are water and acrylic paints. I usually only like to paint landscapes and wildlife; I am not one to paint portraits. My hallway is lined with all my art work with some stored in boxes. I paint solely for pleasure and have not ever sold any. I will give my family some as keepsakes but will not sell any despite being asked many times," she explained.

Johnson uses her kitchen table as her pallet and her husband Ralph is her key supporter.

She also picked up another hobby of hand carving birds out of wood blocks. Carving has always interested her and she decided to try it and over the years has created many bird carvings. She has carved birds such as a nuthatch, hawk, loon, wren, woodpecker, owl, chickadee, rooster, and a few other birds. "They are very time consuming and I use mainly basswood which is softer. I use special carving knives, a jack knife and a set of chisels and after it is finished I paint the bird," said Johnson.

She said it was an honour for her and her sister to be able to showcase their art pieces at a Nature Saskatchewan meeting held in Preeceville as few years ago. Their art was used as table centres at that meeting.

"Painting helps me relax, pass the time and the end result gives me a sense of accomplishment to see the final creation," she concluded.

Johnson is originally from a farm near Sheho and continued her education at Sask Teachers College in Regina to become a teacher. She spent two years at a country school and then she went back to University to attain her Permanent Teacher Degree.

She taught at Bladworth school for three years before moving to Clearwater B.C. where she taught for two years and subbed for 26 years before returning to Saskatchewan.

When the couple moved to Preeceville in 1995 she owned and operated Country Lane Florists until 2004 when she retired. Through the years she has shared her passion with her granddaughters who have also picked up her passion and talent.

In her retirement years she has continued to paint as well as staying active with gardening, sewing clothes, basket weaving, and volunteering with the town for eight years fulfilling her responsibility of planting and maintaining the town’s flower beds.