Monday, April 15, 2013

Charles Lyon - Painter

Clear Choice
Charles Lyon

Name: Charles Lyon
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Website: profile:
Facebook page:

Before settling in Minnesota in 1994, Charles Lyon spent over a decade living in the high Arizona desert where he taught photography, rock climbing and kayaking.  As he developed an interest in color, he set aside black and white photography and began to work in textiles and later, pastels. After his move to Minneapolis, Lyon returned to school to study painting and received his MFA degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1999.  In 2005, Lyon was chosen to be an Artist In Residence in Badlands National Park. In 2007, Lyon painted an ornament representing the park for the White House Christmas tree. Most recently, Lyon was awarded a 2009 Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board for continued work on his paintings of snow in the city. In 2012 Lyon was invited to stay on a ranch in the North Dakota Badlands to paint the Little Missouri River Landscape.

"I am attracted to particular flowers because of their rigorous structure and formal delicacy. Like architecture, flowers have to "stand up" and function. Although flowers appear decorative, their complex structures are for attracting the right insects and reproduction. Roses, dahlias and peonies all share an architectural quality, which is expressed through the way light and color create their unique and ethereal spaces. The opacity, translucence and transparency of the flowers' petals are forever fascinating to me, and consequently challenge me as a painter in oil and watercolor."

Dahlia # 6

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

The current exhibit at Groveland Gallery in Mpls continues my work with flowers. There are oils and watercolors. In the oils I am working hard at finding as much color separation as possible…sometimes subtle sometimes strong. I am also thinking more about my edges to create space. Particularly in the work with the Black-eyed Susans, I have pushed this with some very blurry foregrounds and softer backgrounds. Sharpest areas are middle ground. And I have adjusted the color to compliment this. In the watercolors I am looking at it’s great ability to create transparency and translucence, qualities that are found so often in strongly lit flowers. I have had a chance to be more spontaneous, too, with my backgrounds.

Farnesina Roses

How did you decide to become an artist?

My mother was an artist, so I was introduced to weekend art classes when I was young. Also, an Italian artist came and lived with us when I was 8 or 9 and did portraits of all of us except my Dad. He was very out going and open…he had more fun than anyone else around and he was a magician with paint. The weekend painting classes at the time were more focused on abstraction and “the paint” whereas he could make representational miracles happen with a brush.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

Work hard and don’t take yourself too seriously. From Kinji Akagawa: “Don’t try to create masterpieces”.

Button Dahlia

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?
I have gallery representation here with Groveland Gallery and in Rapid City, SD at Prairie Edge Gallery. I have a website which allows people to see my work but is not set up for commercial sales. One rule I have heard for artists is that if they want to be successful, they need to spend 50% of their time marketing themselves. Well, that does not leave enough time for painting and consequently I fall into the category of a “under marketer”.

Dahlia # 4

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

I go to all the exhibitions at Groveland Gallery I can so those are some of the artists I know best.

I am in the California Building and look at the work of my friends there:

David Rathman:
Suzanne Kolsmalski:
Jehra Patrick:

Others are:
Carolyn Swiszcz (,


If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Minneapolis Institute of Art:
Highpoint Center for Printmaking;
Walker Art Center:
Todd Bockley Gallery:

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

To be honest, I don’t use the web much unless I see an artist in a magazine, by word of mouth or in person whom I respond to and feel compelled to learn more about. If I am traveling to another city, I will check out exhibitions before I go usually by going to museum and gallery websites.

Susans # 2

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I have a show at the end of June in Dickinson, ND: I was invited last year to spend time on a ranch near the Little Missouri River and have developed landscape images from there and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There will be paintings of the land, buffalo and horses. 
In December, I will exhibit at the Minneapolis Club They are developing an exhibition program for local artists. I will show paintings from several bodies of work in their elegant space.
And through May 4th, My work will be at the Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis.

Charles Lyon
Groveland Gallery

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