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Aviation Artist Lonnie Ortega

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Lonnie Ortega was born in Southern California on October 3, 1946, and is one of six children. Lonnie's art career started at the early age of four years. Lonnie gives much credit to his older brother Gil, who being an artist himself, would be the pattern for Lonnie to follow. Lonnie graduated from Western High School in Anaheim, California in 1964 and continued his education at Cerritos Junior College in Cerritos, California. It was here that Lonnie received his only formal education in the field of art. In September 1966 he enrolled into Cypress Junior College, Cypress California where in the summer of 1967 was drafted to play baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals. In the winter of 1967, Lonnie won a full athletic scholarship to Chapman College in Orange, California. In the following summer of 1968, Lonnie's baseball days ended with a knee injury. This setback would be a blessing in disguise, because Lonnie would now choose art as the field he would concentrate all his efforts on. Lonnie's early art career would be a series of family portraits and other various commissions. Lonnie's love for aviation has always been a childhood dream, like building model airplanes and later drawing them. Lonnie was hired in 1969, by the McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California (now called The Boeing Company after the merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997). It was at McDonnell Douglas where he completed his art education as an understudy with his mentor, the great Aviation Artist and Design Engineer, R.G. Smith. They became fast friends and Lonnie would visit R.G. as often as possible for critiques on his artwork. After R.G. retired from McDonnell Douglas, Lonnie would continue to bring his art work for R.G. to critique. When R.G. passed away in May 2001, Lonnie was asked by R.G.’s daughter to do a portrait of R.G. for his memorial. This was a great honor for Lonnie, to do a portrait of his famous mentor. Lonnie lives with his wife Julie who has been his inspiration in his art career. They have two children, Megan and John, who are following close in their fathers footsteps as artists themselves. You can find Lonnie's work exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad. Lonnie is a member of the Commemorative Air Force and is part of Air Group One. This group is stationed out of Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California. Every year Lonnie contributes his time and money doing the Gillespie Field Air Show selling his artwork and giving back a percentage of money he earns back to Air Group One to fund projects that are continually ongoing. The P-82 Squadron another Commemorative Air Force unit which Lonnie was once part of conducted symposiums in the past years where they've invited American and German Aces to participate in fundraisers to buy needed parts to restore their rare P-82 Aircraft to flying condition. You can also find Lonnie at various Air Shows throughout the U.S. (i.e., Oshkosh and the Reno Air Races). He also attends local air shows around the Southern California area. You can contact Lonnie for information (e-mail noted below) on his next showing. Lonnie says, "He will never reach his peak as an artist in this life, because there is so much to learn and do". NOTE: Lonnie retired from the Boeing Company on the 2nd of May 2002 after working 32 years in the Aerospace Industry. He’s now working on his artwork full-time.


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  1. Still enjoying the pictures 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 30th Jan 2016

    Have purchased three pieces, and enjoying each still. The artwork is amazing, professionally framed. And autographs of Eddie Rickenbacker, Bud Anderson and the Red Baron Manfred Von Richthofen. Meeting the artist, was a fantastic memory, and time well spent.



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