Interview with Bryce M. Johnson, Watercolor Artist

Kelly Pierson, Business & Marketing Strategist

Recently our Wheeler Home Concepts team introduced a new offering – three styles of Framed Home Portraits that can be given as settlement gifts or for end-of-year appreciation. One of the three styles is a true painted watercolor from Pennsylvania-based artist Bryce M. Johnson.

As a humanities professor and self-trained artist who lived in Spain and Utah before moving to our area, Bryce has had an interesting journey to arrive at where he is today.

We enjoyed this opportunity to learn a bit more about him, and hope you do, too! Read on for a transcipt of our interview.

Bryce Johnson
Watercolor and pen artwork of Gild Hall

Gild Hall – Arden, DE. Watercolor & pen.

Watercolor and gouache art of a beach

Happy Place – Lewes, DE. Watercolor & gouache.

Kelly: You say you don’t have any formal artistic training. So how have you developed your skills?
Bryce: After my sister was born in 1974, my mother was a stay-at-home mom with the two of us. She pretty much put a bunch of crayons and a stack of paper next to me and I started right there! As to how I learn a new technique these days, observation and experimentation. I’m very much a visual/kinesthetic learner, so that works for me. 
K: Can you describe your artistic approach and style?

B: My approach is a bit split: I am very technical – I read books, watch tutorials, etc. to see how “real” artists work. On the flip side, once I’ve seen someone else do something, I start experimenting. I take what I’ve observed and then doodle, sketch, make huge messes. I have hundreds of practice works lying around!

As for my style, I work within the bounds of realism. I don’t do much abstract work as I found my OCD tendencies are more conducive to detail and imitation rather than representative work.


Watercolor and pen art of Ballyhack Golf Course Hole #10

#10 – Rim – Ballyback Golf Club, Roanoke, VA.  Pen & watercolor.

Watercolor art of Brookings Hall

Brookings Hall – Washington University in St. Louis. Watercolor.

K: What are your favorite subjects to paint?

B: I’ve always loved buildings and architecture. When I lived in Spain as a child, I was fascinated with castles and I have an old notebook that is full of sketches of castles and palaces. Plus, my girlfriend and I are currently looking to move, so I’m obsessed with houses, as well.

Animals, particularly birds, are another favorite. Plus, I’m a golf nut, so I love painting golf courses. I have done quite a few commissions for people all over the country and my work adorns some pretty swanky clubhouses. We’re fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country, so there is no dearth of subject matter at hand. The Brandywine Valley has inspired artists such as Howard Pyle, Elizabeth Shippen Green, the “Red Rose Girls”, and the Wyeths (although I’m not putting myself in their company!).

K: Did your children inherit your love for art, or are they exploring other interests?

B: My daughter absolutely has. Art is her favorite class in school, and she is incredibly creative in every way. She’s also a bit of a perfectionist, which leads to a lot of frustration since any mistakes are major catastrophes.

My son, on the other hand, views the world in very black-and-white terms.  He can disassemble a microwave oven and figure out what all the pieces are for, but is content with stick figures when it comes to art. And that’s fine with me!

K: Is there anything additional you’d like us to know about you?

B: My full-time gig is actually as an English and Humanities professor. I received by PhD in 2000 from Duke, and after a couple of years shuffling around, I took a replacement position with the City College system in Chicago, and I loved it. 2020 changed a lot of how our “normal” lives and livelihoods look, and teaching was no exception. I’ve adjusted to how I teach my writing and and literature classes, but I can’t wait to get back in the classroom. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the interaction with students, and Zoom just doesn’t cut it!

K: Tell us about the reactions of your clients when they receive custom work from you.
B: People’s reactions have been universally positive.  It’s always very gratifying to see the smile on someone’s face when I present them with my work.

Are you interested in a custom home watercolor portrait by Bryce Johnson for you or your clients? See our ordering page here.

To see more examples of Bryce Johnson’s work and to hire him for a commission piece, visit his website here.