or

Artist Ernie Kleven


An example of fine art by Ernie Kleven

Photo of Ernie Kleven



The Artist Says:


  

     If you are an art snob you likely won't appreciate my art background. Here is the bare bones truth about it. I didn’t graduate with an art degree from some exclusive college. I was not exposed to the art lifestyle as many others have. None in my family was an artist nor was I exposed to the "art culture" of museums, the opera, or stage plays. I didn't take an art class in high school - just drew pictures inside the textbook covers - but did take one in college to be with my girlfriend. I soon dropped it because of the rigidity of the professor's program.
 
I grew up in a small town in rural North Dakota during the depression. The population of Cavalier at that time was around 1000 souls. It isn’t that much larger now. It is approximately ten miles south of the Canadian border and about 30 miles from Minnesota – cold country but a great place to grow up.
   
     In spite of my previous comments I was not without some artistic talent running through my veins. My grandfather played violin in the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and later became a traveling photographer. His studio was a horse drawn enclosed wagon in which he traveled from town to town finally reaching the Canadian border where he settled in Neche, ND in the early 1900’s. My father was an only child. Following in my grandfather’s footsteps he played the trumpet in a dance band and opened a photographic studio in nearby Cavalier. He was the city band director for many years. When he needed a sousaphone player he recruited me for the position though I really wanted to play trumpet like him. He insisted I would be better on the sousaphone because I had big lips. What could I do? I played sousaphone.
   
     In 1952 I became an aerial photographer in the Marines and graduated with honors from the Naval Photography school in Pensacola, FL. I was later discharged from El Toro Marine Air Base in Orange County, CA. I immediately searched for photo work in Hollywood. I eventually ended up doing publicity work for Paramount Studios.
  
 
     Fast forward to 1977 when I moved my family to Auburn, CA. There I become hooked on the wonderful do it yourself programs on PBS Channel Six each Saturday morning. One of them at that time was the German artist, Bill Alexander, who had a captivating show called "The Magic of Oil Painting". He was teaching a simple wet on wet technique for the average person and he constantly enjoyed revealing his "happy accidents" as he called them. He was later followed by Bob Ross with "The Joy of Painting" show. He carried on the idea that "anyone" could do it and I believed it. Finally my wife, Nancy, who tired of my constant, "I can do that" outbursts, challenged me with a starter kit on my birthday in the early '80s. It was like a duck taking to water, to use an old cliché.
 
  
     At this point it would be tempting to exclaim, "I'm a self taught artist"! Not really! There was still a lot to learn after Bill & Bob. They just gave me a starting point. Over the past thirty years or so I have learned from observation, reading, art demonstrations, workshops, painting videos, and just plain trial and error which, in my view, is the best teacher. I have stuck with oils because I simply fell in love with them. I honestly have never tried any other medium. Maybe one day I will.
  
 
     I tend to be most attracted to landscape scenes and in particular, I love the mountains. It may have something to do with my Norwegian heritage? In some places I feel something I can only describe as spiritual. Not religious but spiritual. I don't know how else to describe it but it is a most wonderful feeling. You can get hooked on it but can't always find it. It is my fervent wish that I be able to infuse this spiritual feeling into my paintings. It is a goal worth pursuing but I must confess success is elusive. Still, I keep working at it and when I'm successful the exhilaration I feel is overwhelming.
 
     So there you are. That's my story and I'm stuck with it. (Actually I'm really quite proud of it!)
 

 




Biography


 
(See Testimonials and awards below)
 
     It is tempting to claim, "I'm a self taught artist". But that's not completely true. Over the past thirty years or so I have learned from observation, reading, art demonstrations, workshops, painting videos, art associations, and just plain trial and error. Trial and error in my view, has been the best teacher.  Actually I am a product evolved from thirty years of trial and error.
 
      Ever since my wife, Nancy, gave me a starting kit for my birthday I have felt blessed for the opportunity to create and enjoy the wonderful world of painting. 
 
     I tend to be most attracted to landscapes, and in particular, I love mountains. It may have something to do with my Norwegian heritage ;) In some areas I feel something I can only describe as spiritual. Not religious but spiritual. I don't know how else to describe it but it is a most powerful feeling. You can get hooked on it but can't always find it. It is my fervent wish that I be able to infuse this spiritual feeling into my paintings. It is a goal worth pursuing but I must confess it is elusive. Still, I keep at it and when I'm successful the exhilaration I feel is overwhelming. 
 
     Recently I became attracted to abstract work and I'm creating what I call abstract/impressionistic work as opposed to the more common abstract/expressionistic style which has little to do with representation. Instead the emphasis is totally on the emotion infused in the painting by the artist. My work as well relies upon the emotional aspect but it also impressionistic in that a recognizable image is often the end result. I seldom begin an abstract with an image in mind. Rather I let the canvas lead me where it wants to go. [...]

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