I am an Artist,  Minnesota

I am an Artist: Dinah Langsjoen

an artist, a muse, myself.

Why are you an artist?

When I was younger, which seems and odd thing to say for a 24 year old, I always said I was going to be an artist because I simply loved to create. It’s a beautiful and honest answer, but I’ve since realized that for me there is more to it. When I am lost sleeve deep in paint for hours upon hours of creating, I realize that I am an artist because of being able to escape into my own blissful world. Art becomes a practice on happiness and fulfillment, where I am in charge of each stroke and each held in breath to stabilize my hand. I am able to choose the level of focus that each painting deserves, and thus each painting gets to show me how much I’ve grown. I give to Art, but Art reciprocates kindly.

Why do you use the medium that you use?

I use both oil and acrylic paint for lack of better reason because it is traditional and allows for me to learn from other masters. I love the way my apartment has a lingering smell of oil and turpentine and how I’ve turned my toilet bowl into a brush cleaning basin. In all honesty, paint is my passion because of it’s convenience and yet very versatile properties. I get to control so much of my painting process by adding thinners, quick dry, pastes and glazes that I can’t figure out another medium that would encourage my creativity as well. There’s an odd sense of the power of me the artist working with the serendipity of a spontaneous abstract line.

Can you talk about your work? What is your vision?

Recently I have started to discover my abilities through abstract. I remember a particular painting that was going to be for a friend of mine. She told me what colors she was interested in, but allowed no more input. I was so nervous about doing this, about not being able to satisfy what she was looking for, so I asked her about what was going on in her life. She gushed about a new man in her life and how happy he was making her. I channeled that energy and excitement into my painting and tried to think solely on her happiness and how thrilled she was about him. I sometimes feel like a sponge who soaks up the emotions of my patrons and then twists them out on canvas. It’s beautiful, really, to be able to be so conscientious of someone’s life and to produce something that rings so true to them. When I am creating for others, I lose myself by empathizing with my paints. I envision my paintings to be an embrace between me and my patron, a moment locked in color and swirl that sings to the both of us about being understood visually. These creations are my brains way of telling my hands that this is what it FEELS like to see an emotion, a story in oil or acrylic that captures those thoughts and feelings that can’t be expressed through words.

Has any great work of art made you extremely emotional? If so which one and why?

This question is a tricky one for me. To try to define one work as greater than another makes my mind spin. Art has the ability to be great simply because it was created as someone’s vision. Though perhaps not great to the minds of others, I have always been very respondent to artwork of my father. When I was nine months old, my father was killed in a car accident. That was that. From my six older siblings, I have received only hand-me-down memories about the man who should have been available to me in my youth. In addition to these, we have a few keepsakes of artwork that he created when he was studying art – just simple cross-hatching studies and self-portraits, but I’ve always admired them because they were his. His hands, so rough in his portrait, spent delicate care and effort with each stroke. If Dad could do it, surely I had some talent. I look at his art now and silently imagine that we will always bond over our art, that though I don’t remember him nor he hadn’t an inkling of what I would do with my life, we understand one another through creation.

What is the art scene like in Minnesota?

Minnesota has great funding for the arts and the appreciation for a great visit to the museum is found everywhere. I have only lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin, though, and don’t know how we compare to the more competitive art locations. As a younger artist, I have been influenced by how available art and art appreciation is here, whether it be from how many educational institutions scatter our state or by how thriving the metropolis Twin Cities are. Many of the museums here are free to the public or available at discounted rates to those interested. Coffee shops and small galleries host artists monthly and the range of creation is inspirational just on volume alone!

What is the role of the artist in our society?

To feel visually. To touch an eye with emotion and to be able to share one vision with another. An artist should be able to be approached and not worry about what is thought of their work – if it is true for the artist, would it really matter that it isn’t loved by all? I want to put so much of me in each painting that I care less about what others think and more about how it makes me experience my unwritten and unknown emotions. An artist should inspire others to express their internal psyche through external mediums.

Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?

The five year plan as an artist is to keep on creating without becoming a machine. I am still learning what makes my hands overzealous and I am not trying to stunt that in anyway. I’d love to be able to have work in galleries or to be able to support myself fully on a little more than starving wages. If I continue on the route with the dedication that I have now and the desire I possess, I will be enjoying the art administration at my own gallery where I will give home to local artists and nourish the talents around me with support.

What are your ultimate goals as an artist?

To continue to be amazed at what I can do without training. I want to always lose myself in hours of the unknown creation only to take that last moment step-back-and-gasp reaction. Did I really create that? Is that what it looks like to feel what I feel? That’s my brain! It told my hands to do that and now it’s showing me how powerful and unique it is! I want my art to be a free and organic conversation that I am having with myself!

What does art mean to you?

Art means absolutely everything to me. I work a full-time job at an ad agency and do not get to spend the hours a day that I would wish to be spending on painting or drawing. I’ve noticed that every precious moment I can give to art makes me warm up and realign my body to the optimism I am capable of feeling when I create. Art is my therapy, my way of life. Not only does it become therapeutic for me, it also gives the ripple affect to the people who are influenced by it. When I create, I create Big! I Boom! I want it to be felt and admired and loved.

Learn more about Dinah and her work here.