Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Artist Spotlight: Rebecca Johnston

I knew her as Becca when we were freshmen together at BYU. She's still one of my best, most trusted friends with inside jokes about Narnia, Pocahontas, and her love of band. When she's not wrangling her kids, she's a pro artist, known by her full name. So without further ado, I wanted spotlight Rebecca Johnston.

Where are you from and how does that affect your work?

I’m from northern Utah. I know that many people associate Utah with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And while the gospel of Jesus Christ is the biggest influence on my work, I don’t think that’s entirely because of my physical location. I think the people living here, like my family, friends, and others, have had more of an effect on me and my work than Utah itself. 

However, the art community here has helped me grow and share my work, and it is comforting to have an audience close by that appreciates the kind of work I am most passionate about. 

Tell me about your favorite medium.

My favorite mediums are oil paint and drawing. I didn’t paint until college, so drawing was my first medium. There’s something about the way a pencil moves across the paper that I love. I also love that drawing is more portable than paint. 

I also love oil paint. I love that you can create so many interesting textures and marks, that it’s easy to push and pull her paint, and that it’s the most forgiving paint medium (in my experience). I love what you can create and convey using color! 

Where do you find inspiration?

Most everything I paint or draw has roots in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation, and the doctrines of the family. These subjects are what bring purpose and meaning to my life. I particularly feel inspired after attending the temple, participating in a spiritual discussion, or receiving personal revelation. Even when drawing portraits, I know every individual has infinite worth and potential, and that each person has a story perfectly designed by God to become the best they can be. I also get a lot of inspiration from gospel artwork done by other artists. 

Though not as big of an influence, I’m also inspired by cute or beautiful things. I love soft materials, I love cute illustrations, glitter, lots of color, abstract art, etc. Even if I don’t have an interest in learning a particular skill, I admire and I’m inspired by the creativity of others.

When is your favorite time of day to create?

The best time of day for me to create is usually between 10 AM-1 PM. I’ve had to learn that through trial and error. That’s when I feel my best and when I’m most creative and productive. 

Describe how art is important to society.

Art is important to society because it can teach and share ideas and perspectives in a way that many people can relate to and understand. There are things that can’t be described with words but that can be described through art. It’s a language! 

Not only that, but the beauty and wonder we can experience with art helps provide hope, peace, and joy. It helps us notice the beauty and blessings around us. Even the act of making the art can relieve stress and allow someone to express themselves in a healthy way. It has the power to brighten our dark days. 

On a spiritual level, I love that art can help me feel closer to my Savior and feel His love for me. It has the power to connect people and help them feel less alone. 

What motivates you to create?

Honestly, creativity is a natural instinct for me. I’m ALWAYS wanting to make something. That desire isn’t limited to art either. I love crocheting, playing music, making cards, occasionally doing origami, or other crafts. 

How do you define success as an artist?

Currently, I would first define success as being happy in the process of creating, having fun just doing it. Secondarily, but not necessarily required, success means being able to create art that’s both meaningful to the artist but also connects with and helps others. And, you know, having the funds to keep creating is a good thing too. 😉

Does art help you in other areas of your life?

It definitely helps with my spirituality, which then flows into my family and other relationships. Creating art is often not mentally easy for me. It requires me to lean on the Savior, to turn to Him more than I otherwise would. He has made Himself known to me through many personal blessings related to my art and my goals. Through art, my personal testimony has been strengthened. I’ve only made it this far because of Him. 

Art also provides opportunities for me to meet people and help others in unique ways. 

How do you develop your art skills?

I have to practice and do the work. Many people think art is something that just comes naturally, but any art skills I possess have had to be honed and developed just like any other skill. In addition to painting when I can, I also continue to learn about techniques, tools, and art principles. I like the Strada Easel challenge, timed sketches, life studies, and studying the work of artists I admire. I’m grateful that whenever I experiment and practice, no effort is wasted because I always learn something. 

What’s integral to the work of an artist?

I think an integral part of the work of the artist is being authentically you instead of trying to create what and how everyone else wants you to do it. I actually wrote “paint” instead of “create” in the last sentence, but I had to learn the hard way that there are many ways of being an artist. It’s not limited to painting and drawing. If you have something creative you love, do it your way. Your mental health will thank you, and I think you’d be surprised how many people will appreciate your ideas. 

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

One of my favorite things to see is the touched response someone has when I ask to draw or paint them, or when they see the finished piece. Their smiles make me so happy. Someone once said that they’d cherish the portrait I did of them for the rest of their life. It’s exciting, humbling, and very gratifying. 

What do you dislike about the art world?

I dislike that there’s so much competition. I understand that it’s good to have others that are more skilled so that you can keep pushing yourself to learn and become better. I also understand that there is a place for excellence and that, logistically, not everyone can be celebrated all the time. But I also think the external pressure to create amazing things all the time can be suffocating and stifle creativity. 

What superpower would you have and why?

If I had a super power, it would be to apparate like they do in Harry Potter. I’m perpetually late because I underestimate the time it takes to get somewhere. Plus, if I need groceries? I can apparate. Need to take them in from the car? Apparate. Need to escape a disaster or go on vacation? Apparate! So much of my life would be easier if I could have that ability! 

Your top 3 fandoms of all time

Bluey, hands down, is my first favorite fandom. But I also enjoy Avatar: the Last Airbender (the cartoon, not as much the new stuff) and Psych

She did this beautiful sketch of my wife and firstborn, which I absolute adore.

If you're an artist (even if you're not a Latter-day Saint) and would like to be featured on our blog, send us an email to or message us on Facebook/Instagram. 

Follow Rebecca's art on Instagram and Facebook. You can also follow her crochet work on Instagram

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