Artist Statement

Observing and contemplating the natural world then capturing it’s essence has always been therapeutic for me. Whether through sketching, photography, painting on porcelain — or more recently, painting with acrylics — I have always looked toward nature as inspiration for my work. As an artist, I have found that when I am portraying the rich texture of a wolf’s coat or the glistening reflection in a bird’s eye, I feel at peace. As a teacher, it gives me immense pleasure to be able to guide my students so that they can emerge as artists and find their own inner solace as well.


I was born in Michigan to creative parents. My journey as an artist began when I was quite young. Although I have experimented with other mediums such as: china painting, watercolors, oils, pastels, airbrushing, printmaking, and sculpture, I realized in the last few years that acrylics are best suited to my style of painting. My experience and education in both Commercial Art and Fine Arts resonates in my style and in my ability to capture the fine details that make many of my pieces seem more like photographs than paintings. I am well-versed in painting botanicals and other organic forms, my recent work with wildlife is what has been getting the most exposure. Because of this passion and talent for creating wildlife art, I was awarded the 2013 Individual Artist Grant by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. Through this funding, I became the artist in residence at Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. I held wildlife painting classes that were free and open to the public on-site at the zoo to help ensure that art continues to be accessible to all ages. I also completed a series of paintings of ten of the zoo’s animals and held an exhibition of those works in the fall of 2013.

Among other projects in 2014 I was asked to spearhead a project at the Ingham, Eaton & Clinton Community Health Facility. The project was to paint a large oak tree mural to be displayed in the lobby and to involve 15 to 20 adult disabled consumers in painting of the mural. This project was completed in September 2014 in time for their 50th Anniversary Celebration. The consumers helped paint, write a poem, and titled the project “Acorns of Hope." 

I make my home and studio in Owosso, Michigan where I teach acrylic painting classes. You can also view some samples of my work at:  www.facebook.com/C.L.Tonning.Artist
and on my Blog at:  www.catherinestories.blogspot.com.