James Johnson graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a BFA in Illustration, and is completing an MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University. He has studied with Leon and Del Parson, Walter Rane, Morgan Weistling, Bjorn Thorkelson, and others. He has also spent time in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, gathering reference and inspiration for his Biblical paintings. James enjoys bringing the scriptures to life through paint, and has completed several religious painting commissions including paintings of LDS temples. He currently teaches classes at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, where he resides with his wife and two little girls.
My religious artwork is a personal attempt to translate scripture into the visual language. It has been something I’ve yearned to do all my life. I am grateful and indebted to those who have encouraged, taught, and otherwise enabled me to pursue this dream. Although personally rewarding in terms of testimony and growth, the aim of my artwork is to bring joy to the those who view it. The writers of scripture hoped that future readers of their words would “look upon them that they may learn with joy” (Jacob 4:3). Art, I believe, can help us to do so – particularly when well executed, in keeping with the laws that the Savior used to create this beautiful earth. When I picture the tender scenes of scripture, some words that come to mind include “glorious,” “powerful,” “quiet,” and “reverential,”—far beyond the merely “warm and fuzzy”. Subsequent to envisioning such a scene in my mind’s eye, comes the hard work and rigor that beautiful and believable figurative painting demands. My task is to try and create an aesthetically pleasing picture that also invites pondering, reverence, and gratitude on the part of the viewer. Ultimately, I want to bring others closer to Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer.
-James L. Johnson