Many artists from Anoka County will showcase their work May 31 through June 1 at the 17th annual NorthStar Artists’ Market at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul.

Over 60 Minnesota and Wisconsin artists will display more than 4,000 original pieces at the sale.

All the artists are members of the NorthStar Watermedia Society, which meets monthly at the Roseville Skating Center where watermedia painting demonstrations are held. Watermedia include watercolor, acrylic, gouache, casein and water-based ink.

Founded in 1975, the NorthStar Watermedia is the oldest watermedia group in Minnesota with more than 250 members and is open to professional artists as well as beginners.

“The NorthStar Watermedia Society encourages artists to exercise their creativity through their artwork,” said Sue Olson a member from Blaine. “The society helps artists learn and grow through their educational demonstrations, peer review and its networking opportunities with other artists.”

The NorthStar Artists’ Market is the society’s main annual show and sale.

“The market was started for members of the NorthStar Watermedia Society to have a venue to show and sell their artwork and have a space to socialize with other artists,” Olson said. “It is open to all members whether you’ve been there for years or are new the society.”

Area artists showcase work at market

Anoka County residents Karen McDermott, Diane Lee and Sue Olson are among those participating in the market.

Karen McDermott, of Lino Lakes, said she has always been an artist but didn’t start doing it full time until 2005 because she was busy raising a family and working as a teacher.

When McDermott retired in 2005 she fell in love with watercolors and recently started working with acrylics.

“Since I became reintroduced to art, I now see things how I would paint it and I focus in on the colors and shadows of an object,” she said.

McDermott has been a lifelong lover of birds and now she enjoys painting them. She also enjoys painting portraits of her grandchildren.

“My artwork is typically realistic, but I’ve been exploring new styles,” she said. “I love learning and trying new things.”

McDermott has been a member of the NorthStar Watermedia Society 10 years. She said the society’s demonstrations have helped her develop as an artist and learn about painting.

Like McDermott, Diane Lee, of Coon Rapids, is a watercolor and acrylic artist.

Lee, who was a nurse, first started painting over 30 years ago when she had her first child and was looking for gift for a colleague. Diane’s mother, an artist, suggested Lee should paint portraits of all of the nurse’s children.

Lee loved the idea, and her mother taught her how to paint portraits in acrylic. Later she continued doing portraits for her colleagues, friends and family.

Lee took a break from painting for a while. After retiring she took up the art again and began painting professionally.

Shortly thereafter Lee joined the NorthStar Watermedia Society and began showcasing her paintings in the annual NorthStar Artists’ Market. She has sold over 200 paintings at the market

“I never thought I would be making and selling my paintings professionally,” Lee said.

The NorthStar Watermedia Society also introduced Lee to watercolors.

“I love acrylic, but watercolors are so free and loose and there are so many techniques,” Lee said. “With watercolors you get those happy accidents and you make them work for you.”

Sue Olson, of Blaine, is a watercolor painter. Olson started painting in 2005 when her youngest son left home to go to college.

“I knew I needed a hobby, so I decided to take a watercolor class at Michaels craft store,” Olson said. “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I showed up for the class with all the supplies they recommended. We painted a flowery thing for two hours, and I had so much fun!”

Afterwards Olson went to BLICK Art Materials in Roseville to get more supplies and saw an ad for a watercolor class at the store.

“I has so much fun and frustration with the watercolors ... but it helped me develop my creative side,” Olson said.

Olson often paints landscapes, flowers and animals. She describes her style as “traditional to loosely rendered.”

Olson continued taking watercolor classes and joined the NorthStar Watermedia Society in 2006. In 2007 she started selling her work at the NorthStar Artists’ Market, which she now chairs.

“The NorthStar Artists’ Market has given me a purpose and has allowed me to explore my creative side,” she said.

Details of the show

The NorthStar Artists’ Market will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, May 31, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 1, at the Fine Arts Center on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. The center is at the intersection of Cosgrove Street and Randall Avenue.

In addition to the sale, hour-long formal painting demonstrations will take place by local artists. On Friday, May 31, Pat Choffrut will do a demonstration at 10 a.m., James Nutt at noon, Steve Sheehan at 2 p.m. and Duane Barnhart at 4 p.m. On Saturday, June 1 Bob Austrup will do a demonstration at 10 a.m., Sue Olson at noon, Lynette Beebe at 2 p.m. and David Smith at 4 p.m.

A number of other artists will also be painting live throughout the duration of the two-day show.

Children will have the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt that challenges them to search the paintings for objects on a list. The scavenger hunt take place throughout the event.

Door prizes of original artwork will be given away every hour.

Admission and parking at the market is free.

For more information on the NorthStar Watermedia Society or the NorthStar Artists’ Market, visit


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