Artist Statement

As an artist I have painted realism for most of my artistic life, but I always felt like something was missing. I wanted to push myself to explore new techniques and mediums and after attending a workshop that focused on vibrant, abstract art, I realized what I was craving was that connection with color. I let these vivid waves flow over me, to pull me forward, to embrace bright and bold new pallets and reinvented myself as an artist. I loosened up and let the emotion and intensity guide my brush, and as a result, my art holds my attention more than it ever did before; my art excites me again, and I will continue expanding. I found my muse, and I'm sharing this energy, sharing this inspiration with students old and new to help them find their inspiration 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.