WHEAT – Although she had no previous training in art, Lalonda Baker found a passion for it and subsequently led her to open Fine Art Framing, where she paints and frames, inspired by her life experiences and her firm faith in God.
Baker, in addition to working as a receptionist for the Platte County Records, owns an art business, Fine Arts Framing. She does framing and painting, mostly pastel painting, and she does some photography.
Fine Arts Framing opened in May 2019 and business has been steady. It is open six hours a week.
She has lived here in Wheatland for about 12 years, although her husband, Jeb, is from Wheatland.
“Opening this was probably the scariest thing I think I’ve ever done in my life,” Baker said. “I never had my own business; it’s frightening.
“I really like the independence,” Baker said. “It taught me that I’m more independent than I thought I was and that I was capable of doing it,” Baker said of what opening her own business taught her. “It gave me a self-confidence that I didn’t know I had.”
She said that although people encouraged her, she was the only one who could present the idea of opening an art business to the city council.
She faced some setback because her business would be located in a residential area. However, the building was once a plumbing business, and it was never removed from a business district and moved to a residential area. This was one of the reasons she had the opportunity to open her business at her current address.
“I’m lucky to have acquired rights and to have been able to open up here. It was the greatest blessing. God always knows what’s going to happen.
The reason she chose to open in the building where Fine Arts Framing currently resides is that her husband already had it, already renting it to Steve Sherard and Rex Johnson. Her husband owns Baker Builders and they both work in the same building.
“What a blessing was that Jeb already had this building, and so his business, I don’t have overhead because he takes care of all of that. I can run my business from his building.
His work in his art business and the Recording time offers Baker a good balance.
“I also like working at Recording time also, especially because I was not very busy here [Fine Arts Framing]this [working at the Record-Times] gives me more of a chance to be around more people, to meet more people in the community,” Baker said.
She learned to frame in a previous job and did so for about 10 years, and she sells wall molding from Texas, AMPF molding from Denver, and Engelsen molding from Michigan. The most popular of the three is wall moldings.
People come in and ask to be supervised. Baker has a workbench out back where she does framing and matting. She also has mats in a variety of colors for people to choose from.
She has been painting her own paintings for more than 30 years, but she had no prior training in art, never took any classes. She started making art by drawing first. Her daughter had a library book about animals. When she was sitting at the kitchen table helping her daughter with her homework, Baker started sketching some of the animals in her daughter’s book and found that her sketches were good.
She sold prints of her art. Its biggest seller is “Reunited,” showing two horses touching noses. She also won Best in State with “Reunited” in 2015.
She enjoys painting wildlife and animals, such as grizzly bears and horses. Both of his parents painted growing up, his mother painting landscapes and his father wildlife. His sister also paints landscapes.
“That’s honestly the hardest part,” Baker said, of choosing titles for her pieces.
Some of the inspiration for her paintings comes from stories she heard, such as her husband’s bittersweet selling of his first bull when he was in 4H, which inspired her painting, “Sold at the Fair” . Also, her inspiration comes from seeing reference photos that she likes that she combines into a cohesive painting.
“I want them to feel something,” Baker said of what she wants people to take away from looking at her paintings.
She uses reference photos for her paintings to ensure that she paints sunlight in the same direction, with some of her paintings being done with two to three out of four. Baker uses pastel chalk and pencils, but started with pencil before adding color. Although she has tried oil painting, she sticks to pastels.
“That’s probably how I came to pastel,” Baker says, “because I just started with pencil. Crayons, I guess I’ve worked with them for so long, I’ve learned to blend.
“The artist here in town, Barbara Shaffner, she inspired me. She does everything. She does pastels, oils, water,” Baker, who inspires her, said.
Additionally, God has been an important source of support and inspiration in Baker’s life, a source she embraces with gratitude and joy.
“It’s all our Father. Our Lord gave me this talent,” Baker said of his artistry.