Harvey W. Johnson, CA
Harvey W. Johnson came by his artistic talent naturally. His father was a noted sculptor, and his mother was an accomplished painter. Following in their footsteps, after World War II, Johnson studied at the Art Students League in New York City.
He worked for many advertising studios and as an illustrator (often of frontier life) for many pulp magazines. For nineteen years, he was an instructor at the Famous Artists School in Connecticut (where he became friends with one of his artistic idols, Harold Von Schmidt). Finally, he devoted his artistic talents to interpreting the historic West, especially the era of the mountain men and the fur trade.
In 1966, while reading a copy of Western Horseman magazine, Johnson saw an article about a new organization that was forming, dedicated to the continuation of the Western art traditions of Remington and Russell. His query to Johnny Hampton about joining the group was answered with a quick response. “I not only got invited to join the group,” Johnson recalls, “but was asked to send along several paintings for an exhibition and sale that was just around the corner.” Johnson became a charter member of the Cowboy Artists of America. In 1976, he served as its vice president and in 1977 as president.
Harvey Johnson has been responsible for a number of “firsts” for the CAA. He was one of the first artists to apply for membership in the fledgling organization and participated in the first exhibition in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
A stickler for detail, Johnson does extensive research for his illustrations and paintings. Throughout his lifetime, he has collected artifacts from and books about Western history. For the past twenty-seven years, Johnson and his wife, Ilse, have lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico – in an adobe house overlooking the Santa Fe Trail, one of the first trade routes between Mexico and the United States.
Source: Cowboy Artists of America
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Bone | Dimensions: 9”h x 15”w x 2”d
The inscription reads “To Eddie Basha—a gentleman and a real good friend."
Signed: Harvey W. Johnson, CA, 1982
This small piece clearly illustrates the portraiture skills Harvey Johnson possessed even on an unusual material such as bone.
The Bear Skin Hat
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Oil (1985) | Image Size: 12”h x 9”w; Framed Size: 19”h X 16”w
As a keen student of the history of the fur trade era of the American West, Harvey Johnson often painted portraits, such as this one, that portray a typical character of the period. These may have been done as studies for larger paintings or may have been meant to stand alone. All are marked by an attention to detail and strict adherence to period details. One can always be certain that Johnson’s historic figures are true to their time period in all facets of dress and equipment.
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Since Harvey Johnson expertly set the tone of this small painting by using the moon as its lighting source, it is aptly named “Moonlighting.” The rider’s shirt and the white spot on the horse’s face reflect the moon’s bright, yet soft luminescence. And though the painting is quiet with a simple composition, it is evocative and highly effective.
Staff of Life
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Oil (1978) | Image Size: 20”h x 30”w; Framed Size: 28 7/8”h x 38 7/8”w
Aptly named and using a muted range of colors and a deft handling of the contrast between light and shadow, Harvey Johnson effectively captured a tense moment that was repeated countless times in the West before the arrival of pioneer settlers—two Indians cautiously approach a buffalo herd armed only with bows and arrows. Johnson separated the two adversaries with a line of sage that bisected the painting into two distinct scenes.
The Cold Chill of Winter
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Oil (1982) | Image Size: 22”h x 38”w; Framed Size: 32 ¾”h x 48 ¾”w
The daily life of solitary trappers in the far West was a favored subject of Harvey Johnson. And through his research, he found an almost endless supply of era-related facets to portray. In fact, Johnson became known as a master storyteller of this aspect of western history and maintained a steady base of collectors who shared his passion.
Formally trained at The Art Students League of New York and honing his skills early on as an illustrator for advertising companies, pulp fiction magazines and teaching at the Famous Artists’ School where he met, befriended and worked with one of his artistic idols, Harold Von Schmidt, prepared Johnson for the compelling narratives he would share throughout his career as a professional fine artist.
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Acrylic on Masonite (1985) | Image Size: 9”h x 12”w; Framed Size: 15 ½”h x 18 ½”w
Powder River Camp
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Oil (1981) | Image Size: 20”h x 30”w; Framed Size: 29”h x 39”w
Gone the Nagi
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Oil (1986) | Image Size: 24”h x 32”w; Framed Size: 34 ½”h x 42 ½”w
As Sure as By Star
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)Description: Oil (1973) | Image Size: 20.25”h x 24”w; Framed Size: 27”h x 30.75”w
Artist: Harvey W. Johnson, CA (1921-2005)