Sue Kouma Johnson is a busy artist painting bright pictures of saints and symbols, nature scenes and roses. And her artwork has been beautifully framed inside silver charms designed by Sarah Long of Brown Dog Studio (Sarah was the September featured home based business mom).
Sue’s success has evolved after many years of education, discernment, motherhood, and some moments of failure. But Sue has fulfilled a childhood dream. She has known since second grade that she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. Now she has become successful at combining her love for the Catholic faith with paintings to fulfill that life long dream. Sue’s journey has been very colorful and inspirational for any other woman and mother out there who has a longing to make her dream come true.
Sue began her journey when she first enrolled at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in a fine arts program after graduating from high school. She was an art major for two years when she felt a calling to discern the religious life. Her deep faith already had her using saints in her art. But to explore her vocation she went to Immaculata, PA and joined the Christ the King Sisters where she spent the next two years discerning whether she was called to a religious vocation. She was able to discern that the religious life was not her calling and she returned to Nebraska where she resumed her art program at UNL.
Sue was introduced to many art forms while in college including those that she was interested in: pottery, sculpture, painting and print making. “I tried everything but after graduating with a degree in Fine Arts I kept painting. The painting was the easiest for me that did not require a lot of equipment,” Sue said.
Sue paints with a style all her own, “I love color and people are drawn to colors. A lot of religious art is toned down and mine is different for people.” Sue was drawn to icons and the modern art of Matisse and Chagall which provided her the inspiration of mixing fantasy with religious imagery which is bright and imaginative. Sue said, “My style developed from combining modern art with icons.”
Sue’s style and success, that she now carries with her to Catholic art shows and conferences all over the country, did not come about immediately after college. What happened immediately after college were a couple shows that Sue had at various venues in Lincoln, Nebraska including the Hayden Art Gallery, a coffee shop and the Rogers House. These were great but Sue got married and said, “I had five babies and the art went on the back burner.”
During the years of mothering small children Sue kept her art alive by sketching pictures of Saints each month that went on Holy Cards. They were handed out to people at Catholic Social Services. Meanwhile Sue said, “Caring for small children was fulfilling, I loved it and this was my art.” She home schooled her children which was very time consuming.
Eventually Sue needed to find work that was very flexible which could also help the family financially. She began doing jobs as a home helper to elderly and people in need of those services. The flexibility was great but Sue said, “I had a desire rising up in me over the years to do my art. An urge to paint and create came back as I got older so I cut back on my cleaning jobs.” Besides the desire Sue knew she could make more income with her art.
The desire became reality when a friend of Sue’s commissioned her to paint a picture of her daughters confirmation Saint about 4-5 years ago. This was such a positive experience that it prompted Sue to discuss with her husband the longing she had to cut back on the home helper work to focus on her art. With his support Sue began painting and now has a wide collection of Saints, symbols and nature scenes for people to choose from.
Sue began taking her paintings and prints to different art and craft shows. Through a years worth of trial and error Sue and her husband found that their niche for her type of painting is at Catholic conferences and art shows. She found that, “people who are intense about their faith like artwork that shows their faith.“ Along with her paintings she sells the charms that Sarah Long of Brown Dog Studio creates with her art in them. She said, “The charms are an added feature, they take no extra space for me and are special to people. People appreciate them because sometimes they don‘t have room in their home for art but they like my work, so buying a charm is great for them, and knowing the person that made the religious image has more meaning. Catholic women like things that have meaning spiritually.”
Sue has shown and sold her paintings, prints and charms in Catholic art shows and conferences in Lincoln, Omaha, Chicago and as far away as Canada just to name a few.
Sue usually travels with her husband John, or a daughter or two who help her set up, show and sell her art. John is very involved with Sue’s business by exploring the internet and booking her for the art shows and Catholic conferences. He also rents cars for Sue and books the hotels for her. In the month of October Sue attended four different weekends of conferences. She always enjoys these and even gets to attend many of the conference sessions in between the sales of her art.
Sue estimates that she works an average of 20-25 hours a week and uses part of her kitchen as her art studio. She intends to grow and expand her business by continuing to attend conferences and art shows, through her website at www.suekoumajohnson.com, on the internet at her Etsy site and by finding stores that will carry her art. Currently her art is already being carried at Gloria Deo, a book, gift and church goods store in Lincoln and also in a church good store out of State.
The quality of Sue's paintings are supurb and anyone who purchases her art will have art that will survive for generations. John purchased a good printer for the business and does all printing from home. They have transitioned into using archival pigments and papers which are meant to last for 200 years.
With two college age kids, one in high school and two in grade school now, Sue has a successful art business that combines her love of her faith with her life long art dream that keeps her busy and provides a really good part time income.
Go to www.suekoumajohnson.com to see all of Sue's art where they can also be purchased.
"Joy Battista" stands for the Joy of John the Baptist at the presence of Christ.
"And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy." Luke 1:43-44
This blog is dedicated to all who seek the Joy of Christ's presence in their own lives.
This blog is also dedicated to the unborn, for John the Baptist was an unborn when he leapt for joy at the presence of Jesus who was also unborn at the time.