Meaningful Masterpieces

Meaningful Masterpieces

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Artist Lori Tobin preserves memories and touches lives with her personalized paintings

Everybody wants that one piece of art on their wall that is “theirs.” The one that visitors always notice and comment on because it’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen, and is wonderful because it reminds them of its owner, or of something else familiar to them. If you own a Lori Tobin painting, chances are you have that one piece of art hanging in your house that you simply cannot live without. 

Lori is an Aberdeen native who has been painting for as long as she can remember. Her mother was an artist as well, and she says painting and drawing were always a part of her life while growing up. After attending college for teaching and art in Minnesota, she eventually moved back to the Aberdeen area with her husband, Marc. When their kids were in school, she began teaching art for the residents at Parkside Apartments part-time. Her paintings have been on display around town at places like Presentation’s Wein Gallery, Canterbury Deli, Winterfest, and the Capitol Theatre. Recently, she began exhibiting her artwork at 109 S. Main Street in a building space that also acts as the storefront for Marc’s radiant heat business. For now, she plans to open this gallery just by appointment and during special events downtown, and says she mostly uses her personal Facebook page to showcase her paintings to family and friends because for her painting for someone is all about connection. “When I do commission pieces it’s often times people asking me to paint something that matters to them and is quite personal. That’s why I want to paint for people that I know, because I enjoy putting a lot of thought into it and giving them a painting that means something to them.”

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Looking at Lori’s paintings, it’s clear to see she has a love for nature and animals. Her nostalgic portraits of those common faces you see around a ranch, like a farm dog with his head resting on his paws, or a cow with her calf, can make the viewer feel like they’re looking at a picture of an animal they know or have seen before. But it’s her paintings of horses that truly make Lori’s work stand out, and that have also helped to expand her art business outside of Aberdeen. An avid equestrian herself, she paints horses in all scenes, from galloping around a barrel and kicking up dust in a rodeo event, to standing patiently in a quiet field. A couple years ago, she and her teenage daughter began traveling around the Midwest showing their horse at various quarter horse and breed shows, and Lori started taking her paintings with her and displaying them at these shows as well. She says, “It’s been fun because we’ve gotten to meet a lot of people. Sometimes people at the horse shows will see my paintings and it’s not something I’ve commissioned for them, but they’re drawn to it for some reason, or will say ‘Oh, that reminds me of a horse I had!’ So that’s why I like painting animals, nature, and South Dakota scenes, because those things mean something to others, and I can relate because they mean something to me too.”

Lori describes herself as a “colorist” and likes to put all kinds of bright and bold colors into her paintings. “I very rarely use black or brown, even in my animal paintings,” she says. To keep her work diverse and to meet customer requests, she has also begun dabbling into human portraits and making seasonal décor paintings. “I got into doing holiday décor work kind of by accident. We were having a Christmas party at our house one year, and I decided I needed some winter scenes hanging around the house, so I made some!” No matter what she is painting or for whom, Lori is focused on creating work that others can cherish, and putting that personal connection to the people she is painting for and the things she holds close into her art. “Being an artist can be challenging as you get started, but it’s worth it to get to make things people love.” //–Jenny Roth

For more information on Lori Tobinís artwork, or to schedule an appointment to view her gallery on Main Street, find her on Facebook.