Jeff Johns’ paintbrush is extremely well-traveled. Since 2008, he’s created numerous cityscapes, tracing the geometry of countless buildings, bridges and boulevards—and fixing the shifting skies that frame them—brushstroke by brushstroke.
An award-winning creative director in his professional life, Johns got serious about painting as a fine artist once he found his muse in the Cincinnati skyline. His epiphany arrived while watching the city’s flickering transition from day to night, from the vantage point of Devou Park, a Northern Kentucky hilltop mere minutes from where he grew up. At that moment he decided to dedicate himself to capturing the ever-shifting face of cities and making them instantly knowable through his art. He soon learned, however, that a town’s essence doesn’t yield easily to the paintbrush. That takes time. One of his larger canvases usually requires up to 150 hours, over multiple sessions, before Johns feels he’s successfully captured the energy of a given moment in a city’s life. The paintings subsequently find their way into the homes of collectors, many of whom claim they feel a greater connection to their cities, thanks to their daily interaction with Johns’ work.
While painting is traditionally a solitary pursuit, Johns has also found a meaningful way to break that convention through a unique collaboration with fellow painter Colin Daugherty. The two artists complement each other, with the rawness of Johns’ more impressionistic style balancing the precision of Daugherty’s more photo-realistic style. Working side by side, they’ve generated dozens of paintings together, frequently under commission by highly engaged collectors. Today, Johns and Daugherty’s creative partnership shows no signs of slowing. Which is fortunate. After all, there are still miles and miles of city-scapes to cover, brushstroke by brushstroke.