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Watercolor Magic

Art should connect people for generations. You may not like what it says, and it may change your point of view. Or it may instantly make you feel at home, bringing back a comforting memory. Being able to interpret an ordinary subject and present it artistically is a true gift. The watercolor artistry of Native North Carolinian Johnny Robertson does just that. His work instantly draws me in, and I feel peace and connection. His use of color and perspective mesmerizes me and makes me feel like I want to be a part of the scene.

“What we need to do as artists is to show the world what they’re not seeing in life, to bring out an element that’s not readily noticeable or resilient,” said Robertson. “Sometimes I’ll see a photo that inspires me. A place, a time that’s being lost in history. I will take many photos of that area, edit them and work from the photo. I try to bring out the element in those photos that many people do not see,” he said. “Just painting a photo is not good enough and it’s not being very artistic,” said Robertson. “I think the job of an artist is to interpret the photo in a way to display to the audience what they’re not seeing.”

When Robertson started painting almost twenty years ago, he used acrylics, oils, and then pen and ink before he settled on watercolors. “I think I finally landed in watercolor because I love the translucency, transparency, and the beauty that it creates,” said Robertson. “After attending Serendipity Art School where I studied sketching, drawing, oil and acrylics, my instructor and dear good friend Jane Averell recommended watercolor.

I never really appreciated the medium that much until I discovered some fantastic artists and learned what they were doing with this medium,” he said. “Watercolor is probably one of the more difficult mediums to work with, but once it’s mastered, it really has a mind of its own. It’s quite beautiful the way it blends and plays off the light and works so well with its neighbor. Watercolor is very environmentally friendly, and clean-up is easy. And the results are phenomenal.”

Watercolor offers a wide variety of techniques, and Robertson has found his forte in pouring and negative painting. “It gives the smoothest consistent look abroad the entire spectrum,” he said. “In pouring, basically what you do is you study values of the color determining from light to dark using masking fluid to cover the lightest section. Continue to pour, then place more masking fluid over the area that you paint up to 12 - 16 layers. The end result is removing all of the masking fluid to reveal the beautiful prize beneath.”

Robertson’s passion and inspiration are in the beauty of nature and in his faith. He excels at portraying the local historic architecture as well as beach life. “Life around me, the beauty of the sunsets, the autumn leaves, the crashing of the waves, the light snow on the expanse of a beautiful meadow. I feel like God has put me on the earth to bring these focal points in and project them back out to the world. There is so much negativity, stress, and strife in the world. And my main job is to bring calm, peace, tranquility, and most of all unity,” he said.

“Art to me is so inspirational it’s my breath and it’s my life. It motivates me, it’s within my bloodstream and it gives me a reason to be here. We are not like a vacuum, but we are vessels on the Earth to absorb the beauty and to project the beauty. And at the same time, love the ones around us that we can share it with. I cannot go blindly through this world and not notice the beauty that’s all around me,” he said. “It’s like God telling me this is my art. Appreciate my art and produce your own.”

Before moving to the Southport area, Robertson had visited Oak Island many times since childhood and still finds inspiration in all its beauty. “I fell in love with the area; the history, the arts, the people. I couldn’t be more excited to be here,” he said. “I have always visited Oak island and Southport for the past 20 or 30 years. Since landing in Southport, . . . my art has exploded more than ever before. It’s like God deliberately placed me here to grow and that Southport was a well-tailored glove,” he said.

You can see more of Robertson’s work at His artwork is currently being displayed at D&D automotive, Ahoy Donuts, and Moore Street Market and find him on Facebook.

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