Illustrated Stories - A Lawn Chair in Makanda

Hi there. How are you?

In today's edition of "Illustrated Stories", I'm sharing one of my favorite pieces I've ever made. I created this piece in 2013, when I was neck deep in my lawn chair phase.

This mixed-media illustrated chair is constructed with collaged paper and ball-point pen.

This mixed-media illustrated chair is constructed with collaged paper and ball-point pen.

The Story

I came across this chair on the roof top deck of the L.L. Bell building, on the Boardwalk in Makanda, Illinois. When I saw this slightly wonky chair and this scene, I knew it would make for a great mixed-media illustration.

The colors, lines, and textures of the chair, wall, decking, and screen door were screaming to be drawn! I love rendering wood, especially of the old, weathered variety, so I knew this piece was going to be treat to make.

My filtered Instagram shot of lovely chair I spotted in Makanda.

My filtered Instagram shot of lovely chair I spotted in Makanda.

The photo I took in Makanda, that became basis for my illustration.

The photo I took in Makanda, that became basis for my illustration.

I took my source photos for this piece with my iPhone. I am continually amazed at the power of the camera it contains. The iPhone beautifully captures the light, color, and detail of the scene.

My completed mixed-media illustration

My completed mixed-media illustration

Process and Materials

There are four different kinds of paper in this piece. The brick was rendered on a piece of orange patterned paper. The tonal pattern was just subtle enough that it doesn't detract from the overall scene, but instead adds some interest and texture. The decking was crafted out of a gray paper, and the door was drawn on top of a bit of vintage ledger paper. (Can you see the faint blue lines in the white areas of the door?) The chair and the other brown areas were drawn on brown craft paper. I love the soft texture and look of craft paper and it makes its way into many of my pieces.

All of the dark you see here was done with my trusty Bic ballpoint pen. Inking up my pieces is by far my favorite part of my process. Addingthe detail with ink really makes these scenes come to life!

The Title

I've often thought of my chairs as stand-ins for people. If you think of them that way the title "I've Seen" makes sense. The weathered old chair has surely been a silent observer to much up on the roof of this historic building on the Makanda boardwalk.

This piece is way too cool to be sitting on a shelf in my studio. Go on, buy it! Here's the listing:

Original Mixed Media Chair Illustration - I've Seen
175.00 300.00

This is a one of a kind mixed media work that captures a lovely old chair found on a rooftop deck in Makanda, Illinois. Read more about this piece here.

THE DETAILS: The work measures 10" x 8" and is mounted on a 2" deep cradled wooden box. With a small sawtooth hanger on the back, it comes ready to hang or can sit on a ledge or shelf.

Collaged paper, black ball point pen and Prismacolor colored pencils were used the creation of this work. It is finished with a protective UVA/UVB coating and clear varnish, so that the papers won't fade over time and it is water resistant.

The piece bears my initials on the front, and is signed and dated on the back.

THE SHIPPING: Your piece will be wrapped in a handmade fabric bag, carefully packaged in a sturdy box, and inshipped to you via USPS mail with insurance and a tracking number. I take great care to make sure my pieces are wrapped and shipped securely.

FREE shipping within the US and $10 flat rate shipping everywhere else.

Please contact me with any questions.

OTHER INFORMATION: Please be aware that while I do my best to photograph the colors true-to-life, all monitors display colors differently, please allow some variation between what you see on your screen and what you see in real life.

Copyright © Jennifer Johansson
All Rights Reserved.

Add To Cart

That's it for today. Please share this post with someone you think might enjoy my work. Ciao!

Is it Time to Quit?

Hi there. How are you? 

It's been almost nine years since I entered my current "Mixed Media Period." It was the summer of 2006, and I spent part of it living in Portland, Oregon. I had a lot of time on my hands and I was itching to make. I brought my watercolors, but never used them. Instead, I started cutting up the Domino magazines I was reading.

Here are some of the first pieces I made:

After that summer, I was hooked. It was a flurry of magazines, glue and Micron pens. And it was all about flowers. All fast, loose and gestural. I loved what I was doing and was making every chance I got.  

Then I made this chair.

It was a one-of piece I did for a friend. The image ended up in a brochure for a local gallery walk. People called the gallery wanting more chairs. So one chair turned in to years of chairs.


Enter the ball point pen.

My technique changed, but my primary subject did not. I still enjoyed illustrating chairs, and people were buying. So, I kept making. 

Then it was birds.

Matt (my husband) is a bird lover and encouraged me to try illustrating his feathered friends. Despite the fact that I didn't particularly care for birds HATED birds, I drew some. People loved them, so I continued. (After drawing birds for 2 years now, I will admit that I have more of an affection for birds than I used to. I think they're pretty darn cute now. I just don't want to touch them.)

There were abstracts too.

Throughout the whole 9-year creative phase, I've always made abstract work and drawn abstractly in my sketchbook.  I've made abstract collages, all about shape and color.

I've made abstract line drawings, all about form and movement. 

9 years is a long time to work without a plan.

I've flitted from one subject to the next, one show/event/fair/project to the next without much forethought. I've delved into wholesale, Etsy, a new website, new products, more art fairs, less art fairs. I never took the time to make a solid plan. There was never time. I wanted to make art, I wanted people to buy it, and I wanted art to be my main gig. I've had some successes, lots of failure, and I've learned a lot. But right now, I'm feeling burnt out and uninspired. I'm not confident about my current work and feel like I'm just going through the motions.

It's time for a break.

I'm not quitting art. I promise! I just need time to regroup, think, and plan. I won't be making any more mixed-media pieces for a time. Instead, I'm going to polish up that new website I started working 6 months ago, continue to blog, and do a lot of thinking. You'll still be able find and purchase my existing work on Etsy, at Dayshift and Bricolage, or directly from me. (If you've been wanting to purchase an original piece from me, now is the time! Get in touch!)

But I will be back. 

When I reemerge from this break, I'll have new, exciting, and most likely, very different work to show you. I promise to keep in touch and share my insight along the way.

Now it's your turn to talk. 

How did you know it was time to quit or take a break? In your work? In your life? In your education? I'd love to hear from you! 

Until next time. Ta-ta.

Things and Stuff: A Studio Update

A new shot of me in my studio, taken by Matt (my husband.)

Hi there. How are you?

I've so much to tell you since we last chatted! First off, I've got a new job! I'm now the Teen and Youth Program Coordinator at the

Carbondale Public Library.

I program and implement weekly programs for middle school and high school students at the library. I'm just a week in, but so far so good! The students and my co-workers are great.  My schedule is fantastic.....I work Monday through Thursday afternoons and early evenings, which means I have time every morning to work in my studio!

I've still been plugging away at my

Every Other Day Sketch

project. Do follow me on


to see them as soon as I post them.

My sketchbook drawings have very much been influencing my work in the studio.

"Infinity and Beyond", 8"x8", ballpoint pen illustration.

"Looped", 8"x8", ballpoint pen illustration.

Yep. I've got a thing for yellow at the moment.

"Fruit Loops" 4"x4", ballpoint pen illustration.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these finished illustrations, do get

in touch.

Well friends, that's all for now. Stay tuned for some new bird illustrations! Ta-Ta!