The Artist’s Eye: Vernon P. Johnson’s Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America

If you are a Baby Boomer…
If you grew up in America in the 1950s…
If you lived in a small town in America in the 1950s…
If you are researching that era of American art and culture…
If you are fascinated by American 1950s retro…
If you want your children and grandchildren to remember that unique time of innocence and transition…
……You’ll want to read this book.
The Artist’s Eye: Vernon P. Johnson’s Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America uses the iconic example of Mount Vernon, Ohio to document the enduring legacy of this transitional decade in which the first generation of Baby Boomers was born.  Johnson was an accomplished watercolor artist who studied under influential artists of the popular “Cleveland School” in the late 1930s and after serving in World War II, became a graphic design innovator in the burgeoning consumer packaging industry. He had a particular vision for small town America, which he illustrated in his paintings of Knox County.

In a volume that is part memoir, author Janis Johnson, the artist’s daughter and a published journalist and writer, takes us back to the 1950s using extensive family memorabilia and her father’s paintings, drawings, journals and writings.

“One of the pleasures of this book is that it fills in a chapter that has been missing from most of the art history that’s been written of the 1950s…Vernon Johnson’s watercolors bring us back to a simpler, more optimistic, more understandable world…It’s a sort of Paradise Lost.” — Henry Adams, Professor of American Art, Case Western Reserve University

See Patti Rudin Albaugh’s review

As you read this blog and the book, be sure to share your memories!

About The Artist's Eye

Writer, consultant and author of The Artist's Eye: Vernon P. Johnson's Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America
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3 Responses to The Artist’s Eye: Vernon P. Johnson’s Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America

  1. Liz says:

    Will the book be available at Amazon? It looked very appealing and I went to add it to my “wish list” on Amazon (which I confess is where I keep my list of books to buy – though I’m a huge supporter of indie bookstores too) but couldn’t find it. I grew up in the 60s but love images of small towns, small town streetscapes, etc. It looks like your Dad captured that moment in time beautifully.

    • Hi, Liz, thanks so much for your interest! Currently the book is not available on Amazon, as it was written with the support of the Knox County (Ohio) Historical Society and intended as a fundraiser for them. You may contact them directly at, where the book and ordering information are available on the home page as well as contact information for independent bookstores in the area. Hopefully this will be a great solution for you and we would appreciate your support. Happy reading!

    • Hi, the book is now available on Amazon. Check Amazon for “The Artist’s Eye Vernon P. Johnson” — that search will find it. I will donate all proceeds back to the Knox County Historical Society. Thanks for your interest, Janis

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