Local artists participate in Northstar Artists’ Market May 19-21

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

The 15th annual Northstar Artists’ Market sale and show will feature original watermedia pieces by north metro artists and dozens of others from around the Twin Cities.

Diane Lee, of Coon Rapids, left, and Sue Olson, of Blaine, right, are two of approximately 80 watermedia artists participating in the Northstar Artists’ Market in the Fine Arts Building on the State Fair Grounds May 19-21. Photo by Olivia Alveshere
Diane Lee, of Coon Rapids, left, and Sue Olson, of Blaine, right, are two of approximately 80 watermedia artists participating in the Northstar Artists’ Market in the Fine Arts Building on the State Fair Grounds May 19-21. Photo by Olivia Alveshere

Approximately 80 artists will participate in the event, set for May 19-21 at the Fine Arts Building on the State Fair Grounds, 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul.

Watermedia includes acrylic and watercolor paintings.

Coon Rapids artist Diane Lee dabbles in both; Blaine artist Sue Olson sticks to watercolor.

Both women are on the Northstar Artists’ Market Committee, planning the event, which is completely free.

Lee coordinated this year’s demonstration artists: Kathy Braud, Dar Bunde, Lisa Fertig, Susan Gainen, Heidi Nelson, David Smith, Emy White and Frank Zeller.

Seasoned artists and novices alike will learn something from these accomplished painters.

Both Lee, 70, and Olson, 66, were introduced to watermedia later in life.

Lee’s mother was a portrait painter, and gave her art supplies as gifts each year, not-so-subtle hints that Lee should follow in her footsteps.

A nurse that helped to deliver Lee’s first child gave her a crib, 100 flannel diapers and other gifts with all three of her daughters out of infancy. Unsure how to thank her for her generosity, Lee created portraits of those three daughters and was subsequently inundated with orders for more portraits.

Raising her children, Lee did not spend much time on her art, but she picked it back up again a decade ago, taking watercolor lessons.

Olson started painting around the same time as she prepared to become an empty-nester.

“I never did any art or took any art classes until I was 55,” she said. When she stepped into Michaels for her first class, “I felt like I was in kindergarten. I had so much fun, and I was hooked from then on.”

Olson has continued to learn about the medium and has been recognized with enough awards to qualify as a Northstar Watermedia Society signature artist.

Olson primarily paints landscapes, barns, boats and flowers, but she will bring some paintings of animals to the Northstar Artists’ Market this year.

“Every painting that I do is an experiment,” she said.

Lee has been experimenting with watercolor on canvas, rather than paper. Impatient, she usually works on four paintings at once so that she doesn’t have to sit idly waiting for her work to dry; she can just switch gears and work on another painting, she said.

Lee will have about 100 original pieces for sale, and Olson will bring along about 50.

The show runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 19 and 20. Abbreviated hours Sunday, May 21, are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The show is extremely family friendly, both women said, noting a scavenger hunt especially designed for children and the opportunity to observe artists at work, new last year.

“It’s not like an uptight, snooty art fair,” Lee said.

Art prices run the gamut – anywhere from $5 to $1,500, Olson said.

She tends to price hers on the low end, she said. “People should be able to afford something original on their walls.”

For more information about the Northstar Artists’ Market, visit www.northstarwatermedia.com.

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