Behind the Sketchbook

Les Gaston-Johnston

Despite the challenges of illness, depression and lack of support from his parents and siblings Les has managed to follow his passion and is celebrating his first commission & exhibition of his work…

Click to read the interview

About You

How did you get into art and making?

Well it all started in School. I had a fantastic art teacher who was impressed with how well I drew trees. After leaving school, life took over and l I was never really encouraged to take art seriously so I never started again until about 20 years ago. I joined an art class and have been painting and drawing ever since.

About Your Art

What art do you like to make?

I like doing portraits, occasional still life, i also enjoy landscapes.

What materials do you use?

I really like oils, love pastels, coloured pencils and recently Charcoal. Graphite pencils are a favourite as well.

How would you describe yourself?

Work in progress artist

What or who inspires and influences your work?

I am a great fan of John Constable and Picasso two very different styles of painters. It’s not really the old masters but for me it’s watching other people progress and develop their skills and it makes me want to improve, learn and teach others my skills and knowledge. That is what really inspires me most with my work.

How have you and your work changed over time?

My art has improved, i have become more confident, more observant and able to give constructive criticism without offending. My work is more constructive, cleaner, more free flowing and more enjoyable.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

Lack of support from my parents and siblings. Time, illness and depression.

Your Achievements

What has been your biggest achievement/s so far? No matter how big or small?

My very first achievement was getting my first commission work. Displaying my work in a local exhibition, none were sold but the experience was priceless and really enjoyable. My most recent was applying for The Big Painting Challenge.

How did it feel to experience this achievement?

Fantastic, over the moon, awesome and very happy with all my achievements.

What difficulties, doubts or fears did you face and how did you overcome them?

At this stage of my artistic career i was not too worried about my work being liked or not sold, yes i was nervous, i was anxious but most of all i was excited. For me i was putting myself and my art work out to the world for all to see.

What or who has helped you in your journey?

Wow where do i start with this. I suppose Mr Jackson (if my memory serves me correct) my school art teacher for recognising my talent. Friends and complete strangers on social media giving me praise for my artistic skills that always helps me along although sometime i still find it hard to except. It’s not until recently that i have become aware of my ability to become an excellent artist and that is because being involved in a facebook group run by two lovely ladies Michelle and Sharon who are just down to earth artist but have a passion to teach others. They taught me a lot, not just techniques but how to have faith in one self, confidence big time and how to go forward and project your self worth, that i am so grateful for in many ways in fact in more ways than they will ever know.

If someone could wave a magic wand and make amazing things happen for you, what would be your dream?

I have always dreamed of running or owning a shop of some kind but since art is my second love and teaching or passing my knowledge onto others is my first love I think I would like that shop to be an Art Shop.  I would sell art materials, run workshops, have a small display of art and promote, encourage creativity in the area.  I would run competitions and raise money for charities with the art that was produce. That would be my happy place.

What is your biggest piece of advice for other artists?

Listen to others, practice your skills, learn what you can and most of all have fun..

If you would like to see more of Les’s work please follow these links:


Facebook: @lezlee.johnston

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