Carolyn Johnson-Bell (Lehl)
Carolyn’s presentation is entitled, “Porch to Easel”: a New Take on “Farm to Table” which tells of the metamorphosis of a pumpkin and the resulting artworks.
About the Artist
Born in Portland, OR, Carolyn Johnson-Bell (Lehl) always knew she wanted to be an artist. She sold her first painting at age 12, continuing doing so throughout her school years. She graduated with honors from PSU in 1983 with a BS degree in painting and began her family right away, painting and drawing whenever she could.
Working part-time in the retail window-fashions industry, she began her freelance business as a fine artist in 1991, all the while raising two daughters, actively seeking personal spiritual-growth and creative fulfillment though her passion for gardening and cooking.
When her part-time job ended, she found herself in business as a self-employed artist. Soon, people began requesting murals and trendy custom wall finishes, so she complied. Without business training, she learned everything she could by reading books, attending seminars, workshops and seeking others to mentor her. Gradually, the business evolved into a faux-finishing and decorative painting company. When her marriage ended, she continued in her business, supplementing her income by doing gardening for clients in the Portland area.
In 2003, she remarried and moved to Milwaukie, Oregon, just outside Portland. She continued to garden and create art in customer’s homes. Gradually the marketplace shifted away from the hand-painted murals and faux-finishing she was accustomed to doing and sales and marketing was consuming her time.
By the summer of 2015, Carolyn, she felt a spiritual calling to begin a new chapter with a special project that would combine her love of gardening, art and food and involve other artists. So she began putting together the concept for an artist’s group called “How We Grow Our Food” and painting pieces of her own to present to the project.
Before she could really get it going, her husband decided he wanted to get out of the crowds and traffic of the city and move to a smaller town. So in late 2016, they found a place in Salem, Oregon. Intending to retire from the industry, she began working on building a permaculture-based garden on the half-acre property that she and her husband purchased.
But soon, the HWGOF idea was reasserting itself. She joined all the art associations she could find and begin sharing her idea with other artists she was meeting. By 2018, “How We Grow Our Food” was a reality, as she and ten other artists created a body of work to fulfill her vision. They are currently on hiatus due to Covid-19, but as soon as it is safe to resume, they will hopefully carry on.