Ron Oden

Artist Biography and Background

A primarily self-taught American artist, Ron Oden is driven by his love of fine art.  He turned to commercial art and graphics to provide a living for himself and his family, and has produced story illustrations for newspapers and magazines, print advertising images, page designs, product illustrations, outdoor poster images, book illustrations, and spot illustrations for the clip art industry.  Oden's work in the field of graphics spanned from the hot type and cold type era through the digital age.

Oden was born in St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California on September 2, 1953.  He started drawing at about age eight, and began painting in oils by age 12 and at age 13 drew and painted school murals.  Throughout his childhood, his parents encouraged his art talent.

Oden attended high school in Hawthorne, California, beginning in 1968 and studied art with the director of the school's art program, Clayton S. Williams, who continued to be Oden's mentor throughout his career.

Oden's mother and father separated during his high school years, and Ron was sent to live with his father.  During his summer school break in 1970 at the age of 16, he took a job with Spectrum Industries, a production art factory in Los Angeles, to paint a series of tasteful decorative nude women to be supplied to hotel chains.  Desiring to continue his art training after graduating from high school but coming from a family with modest financial means, he had the harsh reality to finance a continued education toward fine arts.

Each year for some time Williams, his art teacher, had been funding three of the most promising students to the Los Angelese Art Center College of Design for Saturday life drawing studies.  Recognizing Oden's talent, instead of awarding the scholarship to three students, Williams gave all three sessions to Oden for a full year.  Aside from inspiring motivation in the young artist, Williams' gift greatly enhanced Oden's ability to draw the human form.  Realizing that the young artist had limited financial means, Williams also funnelled supplies to Oden as needed, and occasionally found art projects for him to perform in return.  At his high school graduation ceremonies in 1971, Oden was presented with a small, monetary award and plaque from the Hawthorne Art and Cultural Society, for being the most promising future talent to the community.  Oden was also given the Bank of America Achievement award, and was voted "Most Talented" by his fellow graduating classmates.

After graduating from high school, Oden enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served two separate tours of the Pacific Rim. In late 1976, he became an illustrator for Mercury Engineers Inc. at SAMSO (Space and Missile Systems Organization) in El Segundo. Several months later he married Margaret Louise. To support a growing family, he took numerous freelance assignments. In 1979, he was assigned to a civil service government illustrator position at the Fleet Combat Center, Pacific located at Point Loma in San Diego, California. A year later he was assigned to the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado and designed and prepared training materials, illustrations and publications for the Department of Defense.

While holding down his government position, Oden enrolled back in school at Cuyamacha Junior College in El Cajon under the G.I. Bill of rights for veterans.  At the same time, he accepted freelance assignments for local advertising agencies and design studios in San Diego.  After three years of government he started in San Diego his own design firm, Oden Enterprises which lasted seven years.

In late 1985, the Oden family moved to Tahoe Vista, California in North Lake Tahoe. He had a succession of jobs including with Media Consultant, a Reno ad agency; graphics editor of the "Reno Gazette-Journal"; a job at the San Diego Union-Tribune (now San Diego Union), in their creative services (advertising) department; and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) as a senior computer scientist specializing in computer generated art and worked with Naval research scientists and engineers.  He also worked in video and animation applications and early Worldwide Web development, through Technology Transfer programs.

In 2003 Oden opened a gallery, which sponsored his first public exhibition.

Today, in addition to spending time each day on his fine-art painting, Oden continues his illustration career and is still Graphics Editor at the Reno Gazette-Journal.  Recently he has begun to carve sculptures in marble and alabaster.  To date, Oden has produced more than 350 paintings, 1,000 drawings and life studies, and has illustrated numerous children's books, and a book on 29 towns in Northern Nevada titled Stories from the Sagebrush, Celebrating Northern Nevada at the Millennium.  Ron continues to reside at Lake Tahoe with his wife Margaret and youngest child, son Branden.

1971 Bank of America Achievement award: In field of art
1971 Hawthorne (CA) Art and Cultural Society scholarship
1971 Most talented: Hawthorne (CA) High School Hall of Fame
1976 Best illustration: Marketing Tools, professional group
1989 First place: Best of Gannett: For a body of work
1990 Copley Ring of Truth: San Diego Union-Tribune: First place advertising
1991 Copley Ring of Truth: San Diego Union-Tribune: First place local ad
1991 Copley Ring of Truth: San Diego Union-Tribune: First place classified ad
1991 ANME Advertising Award: First place, international, for Century 21
1999 Special Citation from the publisher: For Illustrating "Stories from the Sagebrush, Celebrating Northern Nevada at theMillennium, "Written by Don Cox, photographs by Jean Dixon and paintings by Ron Oden.
1999 First place: Information Graphic, Nevada Press Association
2000 First place: Best of Gannett for information graphic on how gold is produced in Nevada, and a body of work
2000 First place: Information Graphic, Nevada Press Association
2000 Second place: Information Graphic, Nevada Press Association
2000 Second place: Best Illustration, Nevada Press Association
2001 First place: Information Graphic, Nevada Press Association
2001 Second place: Best Illustration, Nevada Press Association
2002 First place: Information Graphic, Nevada Press Association
2002 First place: Best Illustration, Nevada Press Association
2002 Second place: Information Graphic, Nevada Press Association
2003 APNEC (The Associated Press): First place, Yucca Mountain

Past member, Society of Illustrators, San Diego
Past member, Marketing Tools, San Diego
Past member, San Diego Museum of Art
Nevada Museum of Art
born 1953 Santa Monica, California
California, Nevada
Known for
Abstract, Figural, Portrait, Abstract Expressionism
Painter, Illustrator, Printmaker
2007, Von Glitschka Crumble. Crackle. Burn - 120 stunning textures for design and illustration, HOW Books (color)
2007, H. Ramsey Fowler The Little, Brown Handbook - Tenth Edition (color)
2005, Michael Green Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Nevada Historical Society (color)
1999, Don Cox Stories from the Sagebrush - Celebrating Northern Nevada at the Millennium, Halcyon (color)
New York State Museum, Albany, New York
Artist Statement
"I use styles like a color palette". "However I feel is how I paint: Realistic, Abstract, Non-objective, whatever; to me, if you must label a style, ALL of them should be labeled "realistic" because to me everything is real!" What isn't? You're either alive or dead, aren't you?

Sometimes I think I ought to "think" less, and paint more... but my logical and rational thoughts tame my expressions and suppress my desire to be bold. I disdain producing pedestrian works; already, I have painted too many of them in my lifetime. I will never stop exploring creatively; creative exploration is the very essence of joy and fulfillment in an artist's life!
Ron Oden
P.O. Box 475
Tahoe Vista, CA  96148
Phone: 530-546-9252
Abstract, Realist, Modernist, Illustration
Oil, Acrylic, Watercolor, Most mediums
Price Information
$250 for small works (9" x 12, 12" x 16"); $1,000 to $3,000 for large works (30" x 40" to 36" x 48"), more for very large canvases and special, large commissioned works.