Russell Johnson has a thing for trees, always has. Let’s say that besides the Grand Canyon, he would rather be in the woods. So, why live in Arizona? Arizona isn’t widely known for its forests, but look at the map, a vast stretch across the center of Arizona is wooded, not to mention the very cool “sky islands” of southern Arizona. That’s the appeal of Arizona, its diversity! Russell enjoys the lush forests of Eastern Arizona, near the Big Lake area, for example. Or, the colorful aspen groves on the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. Or, the wooded areas around the Mogollon Rim create especially spectacular vistas. Or, the vibrant forests of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. And, of course, the Ponderosa forests around his home area in Prescott.
In this gallery of images, the focus is on trees: the spaces within that Russell calls forest interiors. As a youngster, Russell Johnson was fascinated with trees and photographed them almost exclusively. The big cottonwood trees that line his childhood tromping grounds near Lynx Creek have special meaning, because they were a source of awe by their sheer size. He appreciates a trees texture up-close, the patterns from afar, and the poetic movement of the branches. With paint, Russell’s trees take on symbolic significance and play on contrasts and metaphors. Many of these paintings were done with a palette knife to bring in textural elements. Also, notice the diversity of tree types throughout this gallery of forest interior paintings.