Petite paintings: Local woman specializes in miniature artworks
WORTHINGTON -- In Kimberly Jansen's corner of the art world, patience and a steady hand are necessary virtues. It takes both to create the artworks that qualify her for membership in the Miniature Artists of America, an elite organization with on...
WORTHINGTON - In Kimberly Jansen’s corner of the art world, patience and a steady hand are necessary virtues. It takes both to create the artworks that qualify her for membership in the Miniature Artists of America, an elite organization with only about 80 members worldwide.
A 1978 graduate of Worthington High School, Kimberly credits art teachers Hal Schulz and Lorna James with fostering her interest in painting and drawing. Professionally she first used her talents in a cosmetology career in Tulsa, Okla., garnering a reputation as a nail artist who created elaborate designs on the tips of fingers.
“One of my clients encouraged me to participate in the Tulsa Philharmonic benefit show - ‘Can you do small paintings for it?’” related Kimberly.”From that, the Philbrook Museum of Art commissioned me to do miniature paintings to sell in their gift shop.”
But Kimberly still didn’t know there were events focused solely on small-scale artworks, not until she was asked by a frame salesman if she participated in the miniature art show in Colorado Springs, Colo. She did her first such show in 1996 and has been a miniature devotee ever since.
This month, her artworks - both miniature and slightly larger works that don’t adhere to the strict guidelines for miniature art - are on display at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington.
“I did these crazy abstracts I don’t usually do, just for fun,” she explained. “The miniature shows have so many rules, so sometimes it’s fun to forget the rules.”
To qualify for a miniature show, a painting can’t be larger than 25 square inches, and its subject matter can’t be more than one-sixth its actual size, plus there are specific framing requirements, Kimberly explained.
She tends to stay well on the small side of the requirements, because experience has taught her the smaller pieces stand out and are more sellable.
But just because a painting is small doesn’t mean it takes less time.
“Per square inch, miniatures take nine times longer than a regular painting. At least that’s what I’ve been told,” she said.
Kimberly works in a variety of mediums, including acrylic, colored pencil, oil, pastel, watercolor, casein, gouache and metal point. The latter is a particularly painstaking process, using a wire made of precious metal - sterling silver, gold, copper - to draw a design. There are a couple examples of this technique in the show, one a drawing of a rose she completed in gold for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was particularly appropriate as her family owns Johnson Jewelry in downtown Worthington.
“Not a lot of people do metal point” because there is no room for error, Kimberly explained. “With the rose, I started in the middle and just kept building out. You can’t touch the paper with your hands, either, because of the oils. … You use the metal wire like a pencil, and it has to be a special surface. It’s a very old technique - DaVinci did it quite a bit.”
Her favorite medium is colored pencil, but even that is a complicated process, as she has to apply layer upon layer of color to get the proper effect.
“It makes your fingers sore, so you have to switch it up,” Kimberly said.
For the local show, Kimberly switched it up with a few mixed media pieces that feature clock parts, which were taken apart by her father, jeweler Jim Johnson, who died in March. Many of the pieces in the show were taken right off the walls of her mother’s home, Kimberly added. She also included the first oil painting she did at age 13, as well as an image from her high school photography class and a drawing from her high school years.
The opening reception for the exhibit will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the art center, located in the lower level of the War Memorial Building (Nobles County Library), 407 12th St., Worthington. The exhibit continues through September; hours are 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone 372-8245 for more information.
Kimberly and her art will also be featured on an episode of “Postcards” on Pioneer Public TV, likely to air in the spring.