Fine Art Today had an exciting opportunity to sit down with Minnesota watercolorist Dan Mondloch, who allowed us insight into himself as a father, husband, and artist. This is a beautiful story!
Whether it’s our hometown or a beautiful space visited while travelling, all of us have experienced a powerful connection with certain locations. For Saint Cloud, Minnesota, native Dan Mondloch, personal connections with all things Midwestern and family tradition have allowed him to blossom into an accomplished watercolorist — with his best seemingly yet to come.
Mondloch is a third generation painter, will Jack be the fourth? (c) Image courtesy Dan Mondloch 2016
Born and raised in central Minnesota, Mondloch hasn’t ventured far from his childhood home, a fact the artist attributes to his love of family and the Midwest. Today, Mondloch lives only minutes from his parents with his wife, Mallory — also a Saint Cloud native — and their newborn son, Jack. Mondloch’s father, Jim, is also a talented watercolorist, and his mother holds a degree in art education. Both have always supported Dan’s pursuit of an artistic career. “I love retelling the story of how my interest in art began,” he says. “I can remember mentioning to my dad in the 9th grade that I might be interested in trying this painting thing. The next morning, I woke up to the kitchen table filled with everything I needed to get started — plus some. So it began.”
Dan Mondloch, “Off Street Parking,” 2016, watercolor, 12 x 16 in. (c) Dan Mondloch 2016
Mondloch never looked back and has been hot on the trail of artistic success ever since. He is quickly gaining regional and national attention for his skillful ability to capture the character and identity of locations en plein air. For Mondloch, painting is a method for capturing his personal experiences with particular spaces. “It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that draws me to a scene,” he says. “I’m sure it’s a number of both technical and intangible things, such as composition, large value shapes, light, and often that unexplainable spirit you feel from a space. I paint to re-create these connections, and, of course, if my viewers are able to see and feel that as well, it’s a great moment.”
Dan Mondloch, “Ice Fishing – Red Light,” 2015, watercolor, 11 x 15 in. (c) Dan Mondloch 2016
Dan Mondloch, “St. Cloud Hydro-Electric Dam,” 2016, acrylic, 12 x 28 1/2 in. (c) Dan Mondloch 2016
Only recently has the artist begun to compete in quick-draw and plein air competitions — and the results speak for themselves. Over the past several years, Mondloch has received a number of awards, including Best of Show honors at Artists of MN 2009, Millstream Arts Festival 2011, Essential Art 2012, Millstream Arts Festival 2014, and Paint Du Nord Duluth 2015. Mondloch also mopped up at the 2015 Plein Air Aitkin event with First Place overall and First Place in the quick paint. 2015 rounded out with a quick paint win at Red Wing as well. Mondloch has also found success on the national plein air circuit, earning honorable mentions at the 3rd Annual Lighthouse PleinAir and EASELS in Frederick, Maryland. Just last week, Mondloch was at Telluride where he sold six paintings.
Dan Mondloch, “Ice Fishing, Eavening Shadows,” 2015, acrylic, 12 x 28 1/2 in. (c) Dan Mondloch 2016
There can be little doubt that Mondloch’s choice of medium is perfectly suited to his artistic goals. “The fluidity, translucency, and vitality of watercolor is ideal for capturing a fleeting plein air moment,” Mondloch suggests. “I love the light, character, and texture I can get with watercolor; it’s simply the best for me. It’s amazing how the tone and character of a place can change within an hour — or even a few minutes! Watercolor is a perfect medium to capture these moments.” Although Mondloch has isolated watercolor as his preferred medium, the artist also has a studio practice that allows him to on occasion work in acrylic. For now, he keeps his plein air and studio processes separate, but he admits there’s an interest in pursuing new and challenging working methods. Recently, the artist has ventured into the three-dimensional, using watercolor paper to construct both abstract and representational forms. Once completed, Mondloch then embellishes the paper sculpture with a watercolor painting – the resulting works are incredibly dynamic and original.
Dan Mondloch, “Lake Cabin,” 2014, paper sculpture with watercolor, 24 x 24 in. (c) Dan Mondloch 2016
The sky seems to be the limit for Mondloch as his burgeoning career continues to ascend. Although the artist is busy tending to his new bundle of joy — Jack — now and for years to come, he’s committed as ever to his art, and one can only imagine what beauty is to emerge from Mondloch’s talented hand in the future.