Johnny works mostly in watercolour but also paints in oils and mixed media. The barren and bleak mountain landscape of his native Donegal is his major theme and he is continually seeking new ways to express his feelings for this textural landscape. Another recurring theme is the exciting abstract quality of the colours and shapes of the local fishing ports of Burtonport and Killybegs.
Although his subject is almost exclusively the landscape of the West of Ireland his approach to painting it is as diverse as the landscape itself. This is because he is never completely satisfied with his last painting and so he is continually searching for new ways to express his deep spiritual feelings for the landscape he grew up in. He has done several portraits including the portrait of Ballyboffey man, Joe Mullholland, Director of The Patrick MacGill Summer School.
Most of the pictures that Johnny paint are of familiar places near his home in Glenties and sometimes are done in the studio from the memory of a particular aspect of weather or light that remains filed away in his mind until he sketches his ideas down on paper.
His influences are many and varied but he says that he frequently dips into the well of poetry for refreshment, especially the nature poems of Donegal based poet and friend Frank Harvey as well as the work of British poet Ted Hughes. He believes that the artist is influenced by everything that surrounds him and that all of life’s experiences are laid down on the painting surface in one way or another.