BFA: Art and German; minor in Education/ Gustavus Adolphus College, MN
MFA: Illustration/ Syracuse University, NY
SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
PBAA (Picture Book Artists Association)
Artists and Climate Change
‘Magnuson’ is Swedish. ‘Gunvaldson’, my maiden name is from above the Arctic Circle in Norway. But, my Celtic genes dominate: Spirits are alive in every part of Earth Mother. We are sustained and created by her. My more recent recent art and writing reflect these beliefs.
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 moves with my parents and five siblings, I collected dogs, cats, chinchillas, birds, baby chicks, hamsters and a kinkajou. Summers on my grandparents’ farm in the Minnesota North Woods meant riding broomstick hobbyhorses 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 unsuccessful Hereford and pig ride (pigs spin in circles). Drawings of Peter Pan and every wild animal possible, wolves being a favorite, filled those recycled school papers. Tackle football, baseball, tree climbing to see into Far Far Away, falling off buildings and also jumping onto surprised horses –injury-causing by the way, filled my days.
Today: My studio is one block from beautiful Lake Superior. There are bugs to carry you off and my favorite: thunder storms. If it’s going to occasionally hit -40 in winter, snow is a lovely and necessary accessory. My writer/ counselor/environment activist husband also has his office in our home. Daily we share life insights. ‘Going Green’ is our goal —even with tea. Garden weeds are now native plants and organic really does taste better. To our daughter Samantha and son Joshua, you and yours are the joys of our lives.
Children’s illustrations: These bring me into the world I’m painting: the textures, the characters. I smell the forest, touch the beaver and run with wolves. I sense their thoughts. I fly and swim under the sea. My fingertips know the bear’s teeth, lizard’s skin, the bark on a tree. 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. (Course with drones out there…)
Allegorical Realism: Living with a host family in Germany for one year as a student and teaching in Tanzania mid-college enriched and inspired new thinking and extrapolations. My culturally assumed ideologies broke open, expanding to a much wider platform. Life is a never-ending, unfolding mystery.
I feel I can join or keep nature alive in drawing/journaling her fine details. My concerns weave themselves into