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Meet Sonoma County Artist Mark Lifvendahl

Meet the Sonoma County Artist: Mark Lifvendahl

Gazing at a painting by Sonoma County artist Mark Lifvendahl is like diving into a fresh bundle of flowers. His large colorful works can best be described as "abstract florals." Each canvas is imbued with color, movement, joy, and vigor.

Mark creates his paintings on the floor, often outside, applying acrylic paint on canvas with brushes, paint sticks, and various other tools. The paint is joyously dripped, splattered, splashed, poured, and applied with multiple methods.

As a self-taught artist Mark experimented with a variety of styles and techniques, but always returned to the bright, floral abstract paintings on canvas. For Mark, the most colorful things in nature are flowers, so flowers are a perfect way for him to express color.

The process of creating these large works on canvas can be dirty, exhausting, and messy, but, Mark says, “At the end of each day my workspace and I are covered in paint, but amongst the mess emerges a thing of beauty for the generations.”

From the beginning Mark’s intention was to surround himself with color, to manipulate color, and to share color with others because color can greatly affect how a person feels. In time, along with this passion for color, he cultivated an interest in harmony and balance of form. Then, through persistence, he learned about composition, and the many elements that make a successful work of art.

Originally from Illinois, Mark has traveled extensively throughout the United States and worldwide. Though Mark graduated from college with degrees in journalism and Spanish, he never went to art school and primarily learned about art through exploration and observation. While in Asia, he discovered the teachings of Buddha, and studied yoga in India — practices that still continue to be important to him.  

“About nine years ago I took up painting purely as a form of self-expression,” Mark explains. “I bought five quarts of paint and I began expressing myself on whatever surfaces I had access to. Over the years, I slowly began to find my voice as an artist and I learned how the materials perform. I learned what makes a quality work of art, and I learned what brings joy to me and to other people who encounter my art.”

Mark was influenced by abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollack, who helped develop the “action painting” technique. Similarly, Mark drizzles, splashes, brushes, and pours the colors, allowing the images to guide themselves.

“As the paint splashes through the air it gets so thin that it becomes translucent, almost like a real flower petal in the sun,” Mark notes. “Layers of flowers create texture on the canvas surface. I love the process of action painting because the work often takes on a voice of its own.”

Mark has lived in Sonoma County since 1995 and enjoys the climate here which allows him to paint, often outdoors, most of the year. He is currently creating more artwork for the upcoming summer season in Guerneville where he has his own gallery, Lifvendahl Fine Art Gallery.

Details: 16214 Main St., Guerneville, CA, 707-527-2171

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