“I call it ‘Spool Samples,’ ” Judi Koehmstedt laughingly displays a small painting of the spools of thread she recently found in her mother’s old sewing machine. The play on words and cheerful colors are characteristic of an art career that has spanned nearly 50 years.
As one of the current members of the artist cooperative, Gallery 4, located in downtown Fargo, Judi has come a long way from her first art lesson.
“When I lived in Langdon [ND], a local minister was an artist, and for three or four years he came every week to teach art in the courthouse. When he started, there were about 35 students all excited to take classes. Within three months there were only two of us! The charge for classes was minimal, but I had no money, so sometimes I would give him antique frames I found in old barns as payment.”
Despite having four children in a six-year time span and working the night shift in nursing homes as a geriatric nurse for 30 years, Judi has always found a way to pursue her art; taking classes and workshops whenever she could fit them into her active schedule.
Being original is the hardest thing, I think. Trying to come up with something that is just yours. I like realism and nostalgia. Things from my farm when I was a kid, which is why I love barns and old cars. I see an old pickup truck and I just want to paint it. Or people. I love to paint people, especially when I watch them doing things that are just a little bit offbeat. I love art. It is always fun.”
“I remember when I first found out about acrylic painting. I didn’t know what I was doing, and it would dry so fast. I would go to my room in the evening and cry.”
Judi has proven that learning and persistence have their rewards, as she is now a multi-award-winning artist widely known for both her acrylic and watercolor work represented in regional and local shows all over the upper Midwest. Her multitudes of learning experiences over the years have resulted in a unique viewpoint all her own.
With a glimpse, it’s no struggle to find originality in Judi’s work. The familiar subjects are rendered with eye-catching bright colors and engaging compositions which hold the viewer’s attention. Her sense of humor is apparent in the quirky titles she bestows upon her creations, and her enjoyment of the process is equally visible in her playful brushstrokes.
In fact, after only a brief conversation it is easy to see that Judi’s vibrant paintings are very much a reflection of the woman herself. Colorful, cheerful and guaranteed to make you smile.
Experience Judi’s work for yourself. Stop into Gallery 4 at 115 Roberts St. N. Fargo where she displays her work for purchase, or follow Judi at her blog, judikoehmstedt. blogspot.com.