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Lonni Clarke was born on September 7th and began beseeching her parents for a horse a few days later. “I’ll take care of it” were reportedly her first words, but to no avail.
As a child she drew precociously. Her first trip to Europe at age twelve exposed her to the things that would become the great themes of her life a love of classical arts and of history. If only her parents, notorious non-horse lovers, had hit a few great stud farms on the Grand Tour, the trip would have been truly complete.
Returning, Lonni immersed herself in European art history and discovered a gift for capturing accurate likenesses. Later, as a teenaged tourist in the Louvre, she looked at the paintings, imagined the process of their creation, and felt that its understanding was within her reach. She knew intuitively that she could paint the world around her if she but had a guide. However, the de-emphasis of traditional drawing and painting skills in 1970's college art departments discouraged her from initially pursuing art. Instead Lonni earned a degree in Medieval and Early Modern History from UCLA and planned to attend law school. During her last quarter at UCLA, the superiority and dominance of the right side of her brain became more and more evident. Finally her creative impulses became impossible to ignore and she traded law school for fashion design, earning a degree from New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.
Lonni worked briefly in the New York fashion industry, but was increasingly drawn to the creative freedom of fashion art rather than the more mechanical pattern-making aspects of fashion design. A gradual drift from fashion, to illustration, to fine art followed. Once she picked up a brush and oil paints, there was no turning back. Nor was there a rational explanation for what she was doing to her career plans. She became so captivated with painting that she eventually acquired classical painting skills mostly unaided. A few beacons along the way were veteran illustrator Rex John Irvine, and Art Center College of Design's Dan Mc Caw, Larry Carroll, and the late, great Richard Bunkall. While attending classes at Art Center, Lonni lived a short distance from Santa Anita Park, one of America's premiere race tracks and she haunted the place to paint that old obsession of her childhood horses.
A few years later Lonni moved to rural Utah for health reasons and her subjects became more pastoral than the foxhunting, polo and horseracing that she found in California. Shaggy horses standing in fields, barns, and falling down sheds became de rigueur. A gifted figure painter and portraitist, she often paints horse people along with their horses in a classic, timeless manner. Lonni’s interest in history and classical art forms shows in her visual works, not being typically contemporary. Neither Lonni nor her paintings are quite living in this century!
Polo/Ralph Lauren owns more paintings by Lonni Clarke than any other collector. Lonni has produced works that hang in Mr. Lauren's office and flagship Polo/Ralph Lauren stores, most notably a monumental portrait of a polo player hanging in the stairway of Beverly Hills store. Her works have been used by CBS on television sets. She has painted portraits for many private patrons. Lonni lives with four borzois (Russian wolfhounds) and one Australian cattle dog in southern Utah.
© Two Sisters Fine Art Gallery - Heber City, Utah - 2004, 2005. All Rights Reserved.