Patti Karsky grew up making crafts with cardboard inserts saved from shirts at JCPenney. Her grandmas encouraged her creativity, gifting her craft kits for Christmas and helping her sew homemade ornaments. Today, Patti is a nature watercolorist and jewelry maker in addition to a full-time job at a clinic, working in the fields on the family farm near Clinton and being a mother and wife.
Patti is drawn to nature’s details, the bands of color in an agate, the veins of a leaf, the way wildflowers dot the ditches in summer.
“All that is just around you when you’re in the country. Living in a rural area you can come up with anything to paint,” she said.
A longtime jewelry maker, Patti only recently got into watercolors. She took a class about 15 years ago but didn’t continue with it at the time. Then a few years ago, she picked it up again.
“It’s different than any other painting because you have to leave the white paper for highlights. It’s really a challenge. You aren’t using a lot of product,” Patti said.
One of her favorite techniques is color floating, a way to shade or highlight the painting with a single stroke of a wide or angled brush loaded on one side with water, and on the other side with color.
“That makes your tree stand out and gives more dimension to your watercolor,” Patti said.
When she decided to apply for the award-winning Meander Art Crawl, Patti figured two art forms would be better than one and worked on her watercolor pieces. Meander is a free self-guided tour of artist studios featuring 40 local artists from the Upper Minnesota River Valley. Southwest Initiative Foundation is a sponsor of the Meander, which highlights our vibrant region and the talented people of southwest Minnesota. Patti was accepted as an artist and has exhibited two years.
“I display in the Red Barn. It’s so fun to display there because it’s an experience in itself,” Patti said.
The barn, near Ortonville, has been refinished inside with a smooth wood floor rescued from an old classroom. There is a stairway to a catwalk where visitors can look down over the displays. Four artists set up shop there during Meander, with pottery, jewelry, watercolors, candles, cards and more.
“The first year we had 900 people come through. I feel very fortunate that I got in there. The barn is special,” said Patti, who finds it amazing that her artwork has gone to buyers in several states.
“It’s fun that way to connect with people. It’s so important as an artist to know … it resonates with people,” Patti said. “I think, ‘People like my stuff. I should just keep doing it.’”