Lars Johnson was born in 1949 in Seattle Washington and grew up in San Francisco. After high school he worked as a merchant seaman, attended college, and spent time living in France and North Africa. Additionally, Lars began playing the piano at the age of 9. From the late 60’s through the early 2000’s he composed original music and performed with his own band on radio, television, and in concert. He continues to find inspiration from music today.
In 1976 Lars Johnson was one of a dozen artists selected by the San Francisco Arts Commission to execute a mammoth 18,000 square foot mural lining the interior of pier 2 at Fort Mason. This was under the direction of noted painter Arthur Monroe and SFAI instructor Jack Frost. For the next 10 year Lars continued to receive commissions for murals Bay Area wide.
Lars Johnson began his career as a printmaker learning etching with master printer Terry Jones. He perfected his technique in aquatint with the Fort Mason Printmaker Cooperative directed by Eleanor Rappe. Lars was admitted to the California Society of Printmakers in 1979.
During the early 1980’s Lars Johnson worked steadily as a medical illustrator. He illustrated a number of articles published in internationally recognized medical journals and illustrated a medical textbook. Through scientific inquiry Lars became interested in the abstract beauty of the natural world. This led to a series of paintings shown at The University of California San Francisco in conjunction with the Department of Electron Microscopy.
Always interested in process, Lars makes his own oil paint and printing ink by the traditional method of mulling raw pigment with linseed oil. This allows him to super saturate the medium with pigment, giving his palette a unique look.
Lars Johnson continues to work as a painter and printmaker in his studio in the Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco.
2021 photo by Joe Ramos