About Michael Chesley Johnson


Each of Michael’s colorful landscapes depict a “moment in time.”  Evoking the brilliant light of the American Southwest and Maine’s coastal areas, they represent a deep meditation by the artist on the world he inhabits.

In addition to painting full-time, Michael teaches plein air painting workshops and runs painting retreats in scenic locations.  A frequent writer for art magazines, he wrote his latest book, Beautiful Landscape Painting Outdoors: Mastering Plein Air, for both beginners and experienced painters.


Michael Chesley Johnson works in oil, pastel and gouache in the American Southwest, coastal Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. He has been an invited artist to many national plein air painting events over the years and has competed in challenging locations such as the Grand Canyon.

Elected a Master Pastellist by Pastel Artists Canada in 2008, he is a Signature Member of the American Impressionist Society, the Pastel Society of America and the Pastel Society of New Mexico.  He is the author of Beautiful Landscape Painting Outdoors: Mastering Plein Air, among several other art instruction books (all available from Amazon.) A long-time contributor to Pastel Journal, The Artist’s Magazine and Watercolor Artist, he lives, paints and teaches in Downeast Maine and the high desert of New Mexico. Michael also specializes in teaching small-size plein air workshops in oil and pastel for the intermediate and advanced level painter and for painters desiring mentoring. His painting retreats at special places, such as Scotland, have been very popular.

Michael’s currently studies with Albert HandellHe has studied previously with his late mentor Ann Templeton, as well as Doug Dawson, Bob Rohm, Lois Griffel and Ray Roberts.

Member | The Circle of Gamblin Artists + Educators

MPAC, Master Pastellist, Pastel Artists Canada
AIS, Signature Member, American Impressionist Society
PSA, Signature Member, Pastel Society of America
PSNM, Signature Member, Pastel Society of New Mexico
Juried Member, International Plein Air Painters
Plein Air Painters of New Mexico

Founder, Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy
Founder, “Two Countries, One Bay” Open Studio Tour, Quoddy Artists Studio Tour
Charter Member, Landscape Artists International

Michael has taught at workshop centers and for art groups such as the following: Northwest Pastel Society (Gig Harbor, WA); Green Drake Gallery (Milheim, PA); Art Barn (Valparaiso, IN); Acadia Workshop Center (Southwest Harbor, ME); Sedona Arts Center (Sedona, AZ); Old Forge Arts Center (Old Forge, NY); Sunbury Shores Art & Nature Centre (St Andrews, NB); Pastel Artists Canada (Burlington, ON); New Hampshire Plein Air (Goffstown, NH); Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod (Barnstable, MA); York Art Association (York, ME): Springfield Area Pastelists (Springfield, IL); Los Reyes Gallery (Tubac, AZ); Bay River Art Guild (Daphne, AL); Roswell Museum (Roswell, NM); Hubbard Museum of the American West (Riudoso, NM); ArtCenter Traverse City (Traverse City, MI); Lawrence Academy (Lawrence, MA); Vermont Pastel Society (Montpelier, VT); Cloudcroft Art Workshops (Cloudcroft, NM); Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (Baltimore, MD); Water Street Studios (Batavia, IL); Eastport Arts Center (Eastport, ME); Pastel Society of El Paso (El Paso, TX); Ellis County Art Association (Waxahachie, TX); Middlebury Studio School (Middlebury, VT); Toledo Artists Club (Toledo, OH); Wilmington Art Association (Wilmington NC); Coastal Maine Art Workshops (Rockland, ME); Tucson Pastel Society (Tucson, AZ); Central Ohio Plein Air (Columbus OH); Ohio Plein Air Society (Cincinnatti, OH); Grand Canyon Conservancy Field Institute (Grand Canyon, AZ); Tempe Art Guild (Tempe, AZ); Plein Air Live and Pastel Live (online, for PleinAir Magazine); Arizona Plein Air Painters (Phoenix, AZ); 2022 Plein Air Convention and Expo (Santa Fe, NM); 2023 Plein Air Convention and Expo (Denver, CO)

Photo: Roland Gockel

If you’d like to schedule a studio visit, preferred contact is email but you may also call/text: 505-490-6139