Add Event My Events Log In

Upcoming Events


    Print this page

    When Carrie Johns was nine, in the early ’90s, she and her grandparents took a road trip from Louisville to Chicago to see a White Sox game. In the car, she drew a picture of her house on her Etch A Sketch.

    “Oh,” her grandmother said. “That’s amazing, Carrie.”

    “Really?” Carrie said. “Well let me try something else.”

    She has now drawn the Colosseum, the cover of the Beatles album Revolver, Derby horses, The Last Supper. Johns compares working on an Etch A Sketch to doing a contour line drawing. “You don’t really have a chance to make mistakes,” she says. “But I’m to the point that when I have my hands on the knobs it’s like I’m holding a pencil.” Her artist father did pointillism, a level of detail she relates to. For hair, she’ll do tiny circle movements with the knobs — the line moving horizontally with the left knob, vertically with the right.

    Working on an Etch A Sketch quiets her anxious mind. She’ll set up in the dining room of her East End home, within earshot of her six- and three-year-old, and put on Chill/Downtempo Radio on Pandora. Sometimes she’ll use a magnifying glass or transparency paper for particularly intricate work. “I’ll go for periods of time where I haven’t eaten all day or had a drink. I get so into what I’m doing that I forget about everything. I’ve forgotten to give my daughter lunch before,” Johns says. Some pieces take 18 hours from start to finish. To make a drawing permanent (so that shaking the Etch A Sketch won’t erase it), she cuts open the back with a  box cutter and removes the insides — wires, pulleys, the stylus that displaces the aluminum dust. After preserving the work, she’ll move on to one of the five Etch A Sketches she keeps on hand. 

    “I realize an Etch A Sketch doesn’t have much presence on the wall next to a giant abstract painting with thick layers of oil,” Johns says. “But at the same time, there are a million oil painters. There’s only a few of us doing Etch A Sketch.”

    (Johns mostly does custom pieces. Regalo also carries some of her work.)


    This originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.


    Share On: