Spinks' "Face Of..." Series. A Public Portrait Project


"The Face of Ventura" by Johanna Spinks

58 Sitters Painted From Life

Accepted Into the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Ventura County

Spinks was awarded The Mayor's Art Award "Artist in The Community 2012" for this two year project.

Photo Jim Martin

_86A5199_preview-1 (1).jpg

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own tAbouvClick on image to readda 

"The Face of Malibu" by Johanna Spinks, a five year project, 68  sitters painted from  life, each life sketch and the sitter's story about their connection to Malibu appearing monthly in The Malibu Times. Spinks also painted "The Face of Malibu - Rebuilds" featuring victims of the Woolsey Fire, which devastated west Malibu. Spinks featured 18 people, also doing the interviews, and the series ran every week from the very early days of fire recovery while Spinks was herself evacuated from her home for several months. Spinks was awarded a Dolphin "Citizen of The Year Award" in 2019 for her volunteer artwork in the community. Photo:Dave Teel. Click on image to read more.


How Did 'The Faces Of...' Series Start?

“The Face of Ventura" was a  two year art project created and funded by Johanna to paint 58 people from the old mission town of Ventura in California, reflecting it's modern day face in the years 2010 and 2011. Each sketch appeared in The Ventura Breeze newspaper with the sitter's unique life story and also his voice on The Lyn Fairly and Friends Radio Show.


Spinks went on to paint "The Face of Malibu" in conjunction with The Malibu Times. Sixty eight sitters were painted  from life over a five year period, from California State Senator Henry Stern, five  Mayors of Malibu, Malibu's original 60's surfer girl" Gidget' Kathy Zuckerman and the original Marlboro ManZuma Jay. There was a three month solo show Fall 2017 "The Face of Malibu by Johanna Spinks" sponsored by The Malibu Cultural Arts Commission with a packed opening night sponsored by The Malibu Times, The Commission and Monroes Catering. 

"The Face of Charleston" with The Charleston Mercury newspaper also ran for a shorter time duration with seven sitters painted for the newspaper including Patricia Altschul of Bravo TV's "Southern Charm".


So how did this all begin? In Ventura each sitter, from Police Chief Ken Corney to the Harbor Master Scott Miller, along with perhaps the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker AND homegrown movie star Kevin Costner, was painted directly from life in a single two hour sitting to create "a shorthand painted sketch" rather than a finished portrait.


NO PHOTOS WERE USED and no touch-ups afterward! The direct interaction with the sitter was the point of this art project, hearing their unique life story, along with Spinks' desire to showcase to the sitter, and the paper's readership, the relevant world of painterly portraiture today using centuries-old art tools of hopefully acurate drawing and close painting-from-life observation. 


Adding to the reward of this once in a life-time project, was the incredible support of Ventura Breeze Publisher Sheldon Brown. When Spinks told him of her plan to paint the town of Ventura, inspired by how Norman Rockwell, a painting hero of Spinks, put his townsfolk in his paintings, Sheldon Brown  graciously decided to feature each sitter's life story and their painted 'sketch' in each edition of his newspaper making the project what it became.   The talk of the town. All 58 portraits were accepted into the Museum of Ventura County's permanent collection after a packed house reception at the Museum's pavilion  sponsored by FOOD Share under it's Art Share Program bringing hunger awareness to the community through art. See You Tube above. 


Spinks also won the Ventura Mayor's 2012 Award for 'Artist in The Community' for this project. Spinks also won a "Citizen of the Year Dolphin Award" in 2019, presented by The Malibu Charitable Dolphin Foundation for her portrait work in the community, especially "The Face of Malibu Rebuilds" focusing on people who had lost their homes in the Woolsey Fire. Spinks painted 17 people for this series and also did the interviews of people. The sketch and interviews ran for 17 consecutive weeks in The Malibu Times for the early days of fire recovery when Spinks' was also evacuated from her home for several months. The Citizen of the Year award was recognized by the California State Senate and The United States Congress.


Thank you to publisher MT publishers Arnold and Karen  York for supporting the  project in The Malibu Times. Thank you to Charles Waring, publisher of The Charleston Mercury and Katherine Mengedoht.


And FOREVER thanks to Ventura Breeze publisher Sheldon Brown for it all. And what came next.


The journey is ongoing....!!!





  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • YouTube - Black Circle
  • Pinterest - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Google+ - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle

​​​Studio: Malibu, California.

Email: johanna@johannaspinks.com


All images and material on this website copyrighted by Johanna Spinks. 

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes the unauthorized use of copyright material (my artwork) including but not limited to internet material, a felony. Link