Down to a fine art
Watercolorist honed talent while working in TV news.
Monte Toon showed a collection of watercolors at OSU Institute of Technology in late 2016. He is an OSUIT alumnus.
Oklahoma artist Monte Toon began drawing with his brother at the young age of 5. Sketching cars or whatever else inspired them, art was a pastime during the 1940s on their farm just west of Coffeyville, Kansas.
By high school, Toon had decided to become an art teacher, and after serving in the U.S. Navy, he earned an art degree from Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State University). Toon taught three years but soon realized he was more interested in producing commercial art. He continued his education in commercial art and graphic design at OSU Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, and in 1973 landed a job as assistant art director at Tulsa’s KTUL Channel 8.
The following year, Toon was promoted to art director over set design, signage, logos and promotional materials. He spent the next three decades at KTUL while honing his talent in watercolor.
Now retired, Toon recalls that participation in a workshop with painter Charles Sanderson changed the course of his life. “Charles had mastered the art of watercolor, and I was amazed by what you could do with it,” Toon says. “With watercolor, you’ve got to plan ahead. There’s a process involved in it, and he was able to convey that to a depth I’d never seen before.”
Aged, architectural pieces such as old barns, houses and stores are some of Toon’s favorite subjects.
“I would rather paint a weatherworn piece with elements that have developed character over the years,” he says. “That’s the Midwest. That’s what I was exposed to.”
Toon, who lives on Lake Keystone, says his techniques, which include smattering, painting with salt and experimenting with different brushes, contribute to his distinct style.
“Some say my work epitomizes the feeling of longing, maybe for childhood or the past,” he says. “To move a viewer to tears — that’s an accomplishment.”