Many people in the Lakeway community know Johnnie Fields – the guy with the genuine smile and the easy laugh, who has taught so many in Lakeway and elsewhere how to paint with watercolor, how to trust their instincts with the brush and to “be loose and unafraid,” as he puts it.
Fields, born in Waco, has spent a good portion of his life in Texas. He attended the University of Texas, studying architecture and later opening an architecture firm. He’s helped draw up designs for several area churches and schools – most recently, Lake Travis Middle School. While some might consider 90+ a good age to have been retired for quite some time, Fields has no intention of stopping doing what he loves – neither architecture nor watercolor.
Fields’ watercolor paintings say a lot about the man – they often depict wide open spaces, bright colors, sunny days and starry nights, glittering water and lush greenery, proud old churches, sailboats being pushed along in the breeze. Fields’ paintings are peaceful; the world they convey is a place the viewer wants to be.
“Watercolor is very very free. You can take a little bit of color and just put it on a piece of paper, let that water go and just move the color around. If you’re trying to paint with a dry brush you can’t achieve any of it. The water does the work for you, that’s what I teach.”Johnnie Fields
Fields first discovered his penchant for painting in college, back when the University of Texas required architecture students to take art classes every semester. Fields has worked with pastels and charcoal, but always returned to watercolor as his medium of choice. Fields said it takes him about a week to plan and then paint one of his large watercolor works.
For fifteen years Fields has taught both beginner and advanced watercolor classes, hoping to impart the joy of creating and displaying one’s own artwork. He takes a great deal of preparation with his beginner courses, saving them the tedium of sketching the work beforehand so they can get straight to the fun part.
“I didn’t realize I’d enjoy teaching so much, but it’s fun to watch the people whenever you see the smiles on their faces. It just makes you feel great that everybody is having a good time … I have to do something of value. I love to play golf, but that’s not what I need to do.”
Fields’ paintings are featured in several prominent places already – in Lakeway Church, in City Hall, in “Lakeway: A Hill Country Community” by Lewis H. Carlson. His daughter has hung his work in her gallery, The Galleries at Pecan Creek, in Marble Falls.
“I figure I’m looking forward to the next 10 years. Life is built on a good attitude. You have to have a very positive outlook on anything you do … I have a wonderful life and a wonderful family.”
From The Statesman, September 2017.