By Phoebe Muthart
WARSAW — Sherri Johnson is a retired art instructor having taught in Warsaw Community Schools for more than 35 years. She does batik and mixed-media work but any type of painting is her favorite art media.
She grew up in Akron. Her childhood consisted of “enthusiastic participation” in Girl Scouts, she said, spending time at the local lakes, dance and acrobat lessons and “riding my bike around the tiny town.”
“I am fortunate that I grew up with the influence of both my maternal and paternal grandparents,” she said.
She was introduced to the technique of batik by Professor Steve Batzka while she was a student at Manchester College (now Manchester University). Batik is an Indonesian technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth.
“I learned the process in college, but finally got back to it in my 50s,” she noted. “I often embellish the work with hand embroidery or quilting, a skill my paternal grandma taught me when I was a child. It satisfies something within me. I was DIY before it was a buzz word.”
Johnson graduated from college in 1982 with a major in secondary art and a physical education minor.
The Warsaw resident began teaching in 1982. She began her teaching career at Madison Elementary School, taught one year at Warsaw Community High School but spent the bulk of her career at Edgewood Middle School.
Though a teacher by trade, she said she never stopped making things for both pleasure and necessity.
“My vast collection of creative endeavors have presented themselves in a variety of ways,” Johnson said. “As a young adult, I saved money by creating everything that I could, these creations furnished my home and provided gifts for friends and family.”
Once her own children were in high school, she had a steady business of painting faux finishes interiors. As the faux-finish craze diminished, she decided to join the next fad that included “Coffee and Canvas” and “Cookies and Canvas.”
“I went on to teach several group painting classes for adults and children,” she said.
Like most artists, she finds inspiration in the things she enjoys. Cycling, travel and flower gardening provide plenty of visual inspiration.
In February, she did custom painting in the children’s area at the Bell Memorial Library in Mentone. Her work also includes an ongoing mural project for the Rochester animal shelter.
“I am happy to be a part of this as it is also a fundraiser for the center,” she said of the animal shelter. “I have mural work in two local restaurants and have found creating custom work to be very rewarding. When you can bring another’s vision to fruition they are genuinely touched and grateful.”
She is currently on the boards of Lakeland Art Association and Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana.
“Following my parents lead, I see the importance of community involvement,” she said.
Johnson serves on the Warsaw City Arts Council, is a member of Kosciusko County Retired Teachers and serves on the props committee for Sonlight at Warsaw Community Church. She also plays pickleball.
“I may have retired from teaching art, but now I have more time to actively pursue and support my passion,” Johnson stated. Spending time with her four grandchildren is especially rewarding, too.
For more information, visit her website at www.artiststouch.online. Johnson’s Facebook page, Artist’s Touch, has her most recent work posted.