Featured Artist: Marni Tobin


   Congratulations, Marni, on being selected as the 2008 Commemorative Print Artist for the Uptown Art Fair! Could you give us a little bit of your background so we know how you got started and what you’ve done up to this point?
A.    I can trace my art roots back to before I was even born. My parents met in art class at Central High School in St. Paul, and I was born two years later. My mother continued to study art at the U of M, and received a BA in Studio Arts. I was introduced to art at a very early age and have been painting and drawing as long as I can remember. I graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD) with a BFA in Studio Arts and Illustration. After working as an illustrator and graphic designer, my husband and I founded the advertising/design firm of Tobin Erdmann & Jacobsen, now LogicBay, where I led the art department. After working with LogicBay for many years I began pursuing my interest in painting; focusing on watercolor, acrylic, and oil. My work has appeared in major national shows throughout the U.S., including the Midwest Watercolor Society Show and Watercolor West in California. I’ve received awards for many of my paintings including the “Award of Excellence†at the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Show in New York, as well as the “Award of Excellence†from the Northern Lights juried exhibition and Northstar Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition, both in Minnesota.

A few of my local exhibitions include “Something Red†and “Contemporary Landscapes†at the Evoke gallery in St. Paul, as well as a showing of my dance series at T Lee’s in Minneapolis.

Q.    Describe the creative process you use
A.    I find people to be extraordinarily interesting. Perhaps that’s why I’ve spent much of my artistic career painting the figure. Dancers, musicians, people on the street, people in social places, these have been the sources of my inspiration. After finding captivating subjects (and maybe doing a few sketches), I return to my studio and use charcoal and quick gestural lines, capturing light, shadow, and movement. For an oil painting, I paint over portions of the initial drawing with a variety of bristle brushes, including a large house painter’s brush for large surfaces. I often leave portions of the canvas untouched, or sections of the underpainting exposed. I create texture and light by adding thick dabs of paint with a pallet knife, often blending with my fingers. I use bold, vibrant colors that reflect the emotion of the moment and my interpretation of the setting. I then add acrylic brush strokes and figurative detail, resulting in supple, flowing figures which are both natural and expressionistic!

Q.    Tell us about the 2008 commemorative print … was this a particular place in Uptown? When was the painting created?
A.    The vibrancy of the city and exciting social scene of Uptown is the inspiration behind the featured poster for the Uptown Art Fair. This year’s theme is “Artitude in the City†and my painting was created specifically for this occasion and theme. My painting depicts an urban bistro alive with patrons gathering for an evening of great food, passionate conversation, and social adventure. I’ve used hot colors and fluorescent outlines to capture the electrically-charged atmosphere of an evening in Uptown. The vibrant social scene is the essence of the city and the Uptown theatre marquee is the iconic symbol of Uptown. The media is a combination of watercolor and acrylic paint on paper. I created the piece this past February. The setting of the painting was influenced by two places, Bellanotte, a Minneapolis restaurant, and Campiello, an Uptown restaurant. I paint from a combination of imagination, memory, sketches, and notes.

2008 Commemorative print by Marni Tobin
Artitude in the City

Q.    At what point did you start focusing on personalities who gather at cafes, bars, and street corners? What was so appealing about that?
A.    A few years ago I became interested in a study of the human condition, and the search for purpose and identity. Capturing a figure on canvas is one thing; capturing the soul of the subject is another, and requires pushing the level of artistic achievement to a higher plane. I learned long ago that with realism I could capture the figure…but with expressionism I can capture the soul! This is what I strive for.

Q.    What’s the most flattering compliment you’ve ever received regarding your art?
A.    Well, to be honest, I would have to say that being selected as the 2008 Commemorative Print Artist for the Uptown Art Fair has been the most flattering compliment I’ve ever received! The Uptown Art Fair is nationally recognized as one of the top art fairs in the country. It really is an honor to be the featured artist. I am very excited about this wonderful opportunity. I’ve been visiting the Uptown Art Fair since I was a student at MCAD and have always been amazed by the incredibly talented artists from all parts of the country and the unique, creative, and museum-quality art featured here.

Q.    When you’re not painting, how do you like to spend your free time?
A.    I love the water, and like to spend as much time as possible during the summer on our boat with my husband, friends, and family–including my son and daughter who are in their early 20s. We keep our boat at Treasure Island Marina on the Mississippi and try to schedule a few trips up to Stillwater for weekends of gallery and antique browsing, great food, and relaxation.

I also enjoy gardening, cooking, and entertaining. And of course, I always have my sketchbook handy in case I see something that moves me, since it’s my job to visit cafes!

Visit Marni at booth #316 at the 2008 Uptown Art Fair.