Q&A With 2009 Commemorative Print Artist Lonnie Broden

Q. Congratulations, Lonnie, on being selected as the 2009 Commemorative Print Artist for the Uptown Art Fair! That’s quite an impressive accomplishment. Can 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 grew up on a farm near a little town called Murdock in western Minnesota where I began painting at a very young age. I went to the University of Minnesota – Morris and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in painting, and from there attended the University of California – Berkeley where I received a teaching credential. While in Berkeley, I began my exhibition design career at the Lawrence Hall of Science and painted weekends and evenings. From Berkeley, I moved to Iowa and then to Washington state where, in the early ‘80s, two other artists and I opened an artists’ cooperative gallery. That’s where I first began working professionally as an artist. I moved back to Minnesota in 1983 and started working at the Science Museum of Minnesota as a graphic designer, then worked my way up to become the head of exhibit design. Five years ago, I decided to mix my painting techniques with design skills to create my 2-D mixed media art. I retired from the Science Museum of Minnesota in 2008 to pursue my art career full-time.

Q. Where do you work?
A. I do some freelance and consulting work at the Science Museum of Minnesota, I teach an exhibit design and environmental graphic design class at the University of Minnesota, and I run my own art and design business, Lonnie Broden Design.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for your artwork?
A. I find inspiration in Minnesota settings of all kinds. I like rusting machines and peeling paint right next to shiny metal and neon lights. I like images of people in ordinary activities and I love color.

Q. Describe the creative process you use.
A. All of my work begins with an oil painting on canvas. As I paint, I take photos of what I am painting and a photo of the painting at various stages of completion. Using a variety of computer programs and software, I combine many images to create my 2-D mixed media pieces. The paintings are all impressionistic in style; even if I try not to make them so, they always are. The style, however, lends itself very well to my print techniques. Bright colors, spontaneous lines and shapes, and heavy paint that characterize impressionism, create exciting contrasts and complements when combined with drawings and photos. Because my eyes see things differently than my camera does, and my hand does something else entirely, images from the various sources don’t overlay perfectly. I match one central element in the image and the rest becomes a collage of colors and patterns.
Q. Tell us about “Uptown Fusion” – the 2-D mixed media print that you created specifically for the 2009 Uptown Art Fair.

A. I started it a few years ago. Because I’m an exhibit designer, I tend to pull things together to make the final piece. The original painting is of the farmers’ market, then I went to the Uptown area and took several photos with my Nikon D300 camera. I knew I needed something on the left, so I added dates there. Just showing the span of time that the Uptown Art Fair has been around is really interesting to me.

Q. Have you ever been commissioned to create art?
A. I created a painting for the Wayzata Depot. I’ve done commissions for other people – mostly horses, houses, and boats. They like the technique and it’s fun for me.

Q. Why do you think people should visit an art fair?

A. Because of the incredible variety of really talented and skilled people who are there doing art the way they want to. I also think the one-on-one contact between the visitors and the artist is so valuable. And while most of us artists want to meet and talk to different people, we also want them to walk away with something. I try to offer a different range of price points to appeal to everyone.

Q. What do you recommend out-of-town visitors see/do while visiting during the weekend of the Uptown Art Fair? (Besides going to the Art Fair, of course).

A. The Minnesota History Center just opened a wonderful new exhibit called “The Greatest Generation.” Everyone should see it. I like the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center, and I love the Science Museum. I also think out-of-town visitors should walk the trails and canoe on the lakes.

Q. What advice do you have for other aspiring artists?
A. Take some classes until you develop your own style and ideas and just stick with it.

Q. When you’re not painting, how do you like to spend your time?
A. I spend a lot of time painting. I paint wherever I go. Last summer we went to Norway and I brought all of my gear along. I shipped home 14 paintings. I also like to travel, go hiking, and my husband and I love to cook. I have two sons and seven siblings and we spend a lot of time together as a family. And I’m a swimmer. I’m 63 and I swim my age, so I swim 63 laps every week.

Q. Would you like to add anything else?

A. I’m just delighted to be chosen as the 2009 Commemorative Print Artist and can’t wait to be part of this year’s Uptown Art Fair.

Visit Lonnie at booth #316 at the 2009 Uptown Art Fair.