Dana Johnstone

Painting and drawing had become a serious interest of mine at a young age. I remember waking up early every weekend excited to practice my sketches and disappear from the world. Gathering my "supplies" and heading out the door to spend the afternoon drawing was a summer tradition. Every spare second I had was spent doodling, painting, and trying to earn a few dollars selling my work to my classmates in elementary school. I set up a "studio" in my parent's basement (storage room) and worked diligently on my characters and paintings. By the time I was in high school I was freelancing for real estate agents, illustrating house portraits for closing gifts - which I still do to this day. I didn't decide to pursue art until my second year in college. At which point I promptly withdrew my records from school and packed my bags to come home and tell my parents. They weren't exactly thrilled at the time.

I attended Virginia Commonwealth University and felt right at home with my friends, earning a degree in Communication Arts and Design in 1998. I realized there might be a spot for me in the competitive industry of illustration when I was one of two students at VCU whose work was chosen amongst thousands of national submissions to be shown and juried at the Society of Illustrators in New York. I didn't win any awards but the experience alone gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my passion as a professional illustrator. Upon graduating from VCU with honors, I received an award for outstanding work amongst my peers, which was a great personal accomplishment as many of them are professional artists to this day.

After trying my hand as a freelancer I quickly learned there were financial challenges I could not meet without subsidizing my income and I began working at Booz Allen Hamilton as a graphic designer. I enjoyed my time with Booz and after 13 years I resigned. In 2012 I joined Segue Technologies and serve as the Creative Director and a User Experience Professional. My evenings are now dedicated to Illustration and Painting.

My medium of choice is oil which is commonly used in my larger canvas paintings and illustration work. Lately many of my paintings are based on a less structured approach using only a palette knife to start my work and a lot of thinners and linseed oil for different textures. Contrary to the preferred method, I rarely sketch or plan any paintings before starting any new paintings unless they are commissioned pieces and require planning in advance.