WORTHINGTON — Each year, people have been able to purchase local, handmade art from artists through the Nobles County Art Center’s Holiday Art Show.
This year, because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the art center has had to cancel yet another showcase. In lieu of the show, the NCAC’s Facebook page will feature the works of Worthington artist Kimberly Jansen Kooistra.
Kooistra, a Miniature Artists of America artist, is offering for sale 24 of her completed miniature paintings, each done on pieces of ostrich egg shell and fashioned into ornaments. She will also do custom orders if people have a special request.
Kooistra became interested in art in grade school, and sold her first painting at age 15. The daughter of Jim and Joanne Johnson, she grew up in Worthington knowing she wanted to spend her career as an artist.
Her foray into miniatures began as a nail technician working in Oklahoma in the late 1980s and early 1990s. One of her customers was the leader of the Oklahoma Ostrich Association, and asked Kooistra if she’d be interested in painting on pieces of ostrich egg shells to be sold at conventions as ornaments and jewelry.
Another customer at the nail salon — a member of the Tulsa Philharmonic board of directors — then asked Kooistra if she’d paint ornaments to be showcased in the Philharmonic’s annual art and craft show. Kooistra did that for five years before moving from Oklahoma to Durango, Colorado to focus solely on her artwork.
Living in Colorado and her travels throughout the United States inspired Kooistra to focus on nature as her subject matter. While working part-time at a gallery in Durango that featured her miniatures, she was approached by a framer who asked if she entered her pieces in art shows specializing in miniatures. At the time, she hadn’t heard of such shows.
Once she participated in her first show, Kooistra joined a mailing list and ended up doing about 20 shows. Meanwhile, in 1989 and 1999, she was hired by the Northwest Iowa Audubon Society to paint birds on ostrich egg shells for their annual fundraisers.
Over the years, her art work has earned numerous awards from national and international miniature shows. In 2006, she — as Kimberly Jansen — was selected as a signature member of Miniature Artists of America (MAA), of which there are only 80 members worldwide. She continues to sign her artwork under that name at the suggestion of MAA.
The average size of Kooistra’s miniature paintings are 2 inches by 2 inches. Today, she gets her ostrich egg shell pieces from Clark Ostrich Ranch in Bend, Texas.
“After the birds hatch, they pick up the pieces and ship them to me and only ask for shipping costs,” Kooistra said. Her original contact in Oklahoma supplied her with so many pieces of ostrich egg shells that she didn’t run out until about five years ago.
“I use nail files to shape (the pieces) the way I want to shape them,” she said, adding that she uses pliers to break off the sharp corners. The thick ostrich egg shells are difficult, if not impossible, to break using just one’s fingers.
Once the shell is filed, Kooistra uses an ultra fine permanent marker to draw out her design. Once that’s set for a couple of days, she begins the painting process.
“I typically work on four ornaments at a time,” she said. “I can rotate them through the drying process.”
Kooistra tries to spend time each day painting, and she also workis part-time for Buffalo Billfold Company in Worthington.
To purchase one of Kooistra’s creations, visit the Nobles County Art Center’s Facebook page, or to request a special order, email Kooistra at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each sale made during the showcase will benefit the art center, which receives a commission for works sold.
“This has definitely been a hurting time for them,” Kooistra said.