I create my art to raise awareness for endangered species and their habitats. I specialize in awkward compositions and strange looking subjects. There are so many weird and wonderful creatures in this world that many people don’t know exists. I want to use my art to give these creatures a voice and help them to be seen.
Elin Johnsen is an up and coming wildlife artist from Norway. Born in 1989, she grew up in the city of Skien in Telemark. Animals were her biggest interest and she spent a lot of time painting and drawing various birds and animals as a child. At age 9 she got her first acrylic paint set from her parents as a gift. She had to teach herself how to use them though.
She finished her bachelor’s degree in visual arts and design in 2012 and entered her first group exhibition in 2013. This was also the year she switched mediums and started using oil paints. Oil paint suited her technique better and made it easier to improve. This is still her preferred medium and she strives to improve her technique even more.
Visible improvement to her technique and seeing her subjects come to life on the canvas are some of the things that inspire her the most and gives her motivation to never quit. She wants her paintings to look painted and alive at the same time and she works a lot with how the background interacts with the border lines of the subject – she wants it to look painted and sloppy, but clear at the same time (in lack of better words). Her compositions often crop out parts of the subject – this makes it look more awkward and certainly makes the painting process more complex – but also more unique. She wants people to think about what they see, but also what they don’t see, and hopefully create an interest with the viewers to find out more about the animal/bird on the painting.
Animals are still her biggest inspiration – especially the weird ones. The word “weird” is a word that has followed her through her whole life. She was always the “weirdo”, the black sheep, the one that did not fit in anywhere. This is why all the strange and unique looking birds and animals have a special place in her heart.
Still in the very beginning of her career, she is currently working on many projects simultaneously while submitting applications to various local galleries and looking for opportunities online.
- I started using oil pastels as a sketching medium during the summer of 2018. This was meant to be a way to challenge myself to sketch more and to play with a new medium. I find normal sketching/drawing a bit boring (progress is too slow), so I tend to avoid it – which is stupid because sketching is a good way to get familiar with the subject before starting a painting.
- I never copy photos (unless they’re my own). I get an idea and then I draw a very quick (and ugly) sketch just to get the idea on paper before I forget. These sketches does not make sense to anyone but me. Sometimes these hopeless sketches are all the preparation I need before starting a painting, but I try to sketch down most of my ideas with charcoal or oil pastels nowadays.
- Every painting starts with a layer of gesso and then one layer of base color (usually english red) before I start laying down the underpaint with acrylics. I use painting knives and large brushes for the underpaint. Then I start applying oil paints adding more and more details until it’s finished. I like to work on many paintings at once – I like the variety and this way there’s always a painting dry enough to work on.
- Follow me on social media to learn more about my creative process (Facebook – Instagram – Twitter)
- I can do commissions but it has to be on my terms. Contact me if you’re interested in a commisioned painting.
Thank you for reading!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or inquiries.