West Marin artist Toni Littlejohn is best known in the North Bay as a founding member of Gallery Route One in Point Reyes Station, where she lives. Currently working as GRO’s Board President, Littlejohn is also highly regarded for her ‘Wild Carrots’ art workshops, which are on pause due to the pandemic.
As a mixed-media artist, Littlejohn is not pressing pause on her creative output, and she opens 2021 with a new solo exhibit, “Coalescing Earths: Paintings by Toni Littlejohn.”
The show opens Tuesday, Jan. 5, and runs through Jan. 31 at Toby’s Art Gallery in Point Reyes Station. The gallery is open every day with Covid-19 safety protocols in place.
Littlejohn’s latest works visually explore the interaction of paint, water and gravity to form artistic depictions of fantastical Earthscapes.
Littlejohn’s art process begins by pouring paint and water on a large canvas, often four feet by six feet in size, that’s been laid flat. Guiding the paint with a brush and a water bottle, Littlejohn invites the two elements to naturally spread on the surface in swirling patterns.
Before the paint dries, Littlejohn tilts the canvas up to an upright position, and the paint responds to gravity as the swirls turn to flowing rivulets of paint. She then adjusts the angle of of the canvas’s position again, often reversing the paint’s direction. The process is repeated several times with each layer of color.
In this way, Littlejohn’s creative process itself becomes a metaphor of what she calls the “geological alchemy that created the Earth in a sensuous cacophony of fire, water, air and earth.”
Ultimately the colors meld into visual metaphors for ancient geological events that formed the planet as we know it, with works that resemble fiery volcanic explosions and canyons carved by shifting tectonic plates.
“(The paintings are) something beyond language, a stirring in my internal landscape which reminds me that I, too, hold boiling magmas, oceans to infinity, and the gift of sunlight in my own being,” Littlejohn says in a statement.
Littlejohn is also dedicating the upcoming exhibit to “the hope that humans will have the wisdom to realize our collective connection to the planet and the need for us all to participate in its well-being.”
‘Coalescing Earths: Paintings by Toni Littlejohn’ opens Tuesday, Jan. 5, and runs through Jan. 31 at Toby’s Art Gallery, 11250 Highway 1 in Point Reyes Station. Monday–Saturday, 9am to 5pm; Sunday, 10am to 5 pm. Tobysfeedbarn.com.