Diana Magnuson NEW CONTACT #: 906-362-9386
BA: Art and German; minor in Education/ Gustavus Adolphus College, MN
MFA: Illustration/ Syracuse University, NY
Member SCBWI and PBAA
Magnuson’ is Swedish. My maiden name ‘Gunvaldson’ is from above the Arctic Circle in Norway. But, the half of me that’s Celtic dominates. Drizzle and temperatures between 45 and 75 suit me just fine. Genetic research traces us all back to Africa but the PBS movies filmed in the British Isles always give me a sense of previous knowledge.
Childhood: My teacher/air force part-time farmer father gave me leftover ‘lightly used’ school papers for drawing. But, according to my mother, my first painting was finger-painted on the wall with my diaper contents.
Over seven childhood moves with my parents and five siblings; I collected dogs, cats, chinchillas, birds, baby chicks, hamsters and a kinkajoo. Summers on my grandparents’ farm in the Minnesota north woods meant riding broomstick hobby horses deep into the forests and swamps; (Why does one not remember mosquitoes as a child?); picking berries, pin-feathering chickens for the pot and sneaking an unsuccessful pig ride (they spin in circles). Drawings of Peter Pan and every wild animal possible, wolves being the favorite, filled those school papers. Tackle football, baseball, tree climbing to see into Far Far Away, falling off buildings and jumping onto surprised horses are injury-causing, by the way.
We moved in 1995 from Seattle, WA to Marquette, MI. My home studio one block from beautiful Lake Superior. There are bugs to carry you off and my favorite: thunder storms. Winters are really cold, but if it’s going to be 40 below, the snow is a lovely and necessary accessory. My writer/ counselor/ clergyman husband also has an office in our home. We bump into each other often each day, sharing life stories and cups of tea. Increasingly ‘going Green’ is our goal. Garden weeds are now native plants and organic really does taste better. To our daughter Samantha and son Josh: you are the joy of our lives.
Children’s illustrations:These bring me into the world I’m painting: the textures, the characters –I’m there. It’s an intimacy. I smell the forest, touch the beaver and run with the wolves. I can sense their thoughts. I fly and swim under the sea. The bear’s teeth, lizards skin, the bark on a tree, my fingertips know. It’s a desired richness. Sometimes the image draws itself. Sometimes we argue –a lot. If the character is to be happy, I think and imagine happiness. If it’s sad, I feel it too. Good thing no one is watching.
Allegorical Realism: Living with a family in Germany for one year as a student and working in Tanzania for one year enriched and inspired new thinking and extrapolating observations. My culturally assumed ideologies broke open, expanding to a much wider platform. Life is a never-ending, unfolding mystery.
Detail is very important (the intimacy thing again). In my personal work, I feel I can save, join or keep what I see alive by being so intimate with it. Drawing becomes journaling. My concerns weave themselves into the image. The Nature woman (coming soon) drew herself. I was aiming for Mother Nature but this intense woman showed up.
My work is a blending of social observation, emotional response and cultural input put into detailed design and reflection. Mythological themes resonate. I do Mind Travels into cultural connotations searching the subconscious and collective memories where I immerse myself. It’s a good journey.