WORTHINGTON — Every year, people have been able to purchase handmade local art by artists through the Nobles County Art Center’s Holiday Art Show.
This year, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the art center had to cancel a new showcase. In lieu of the exhibit, the NCAC Facebook page will feature works by Worthington artist Kimberly Jansen Kooistra.
Kooistra, a Miniature Artists of America artist, is offering 24 of her completed miniature paintings for sale, each made on pieces of ostrich eggshell and shaped into ornaments. She will also do custom orders if people have a special request.
Kooistra became interested in art in elementary 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 clients was the head of the Oklahoma Ostrich Association and asked to Kooistra if she would be interested in painting on pieces of ostrich eggshells to sell at conventions as ornaments and jewelry.
Another nail salon client — a member of the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra board of directors — then asked Kooistra if she would paint ornaments to feature in the Philharmonic’s annual arts and crafts show. . Kooistra did this for five years before moving from Oklahoma to Durango, Colorado to focus solely on his works.
Living in Colorado and her travels across the United States inspired Kooistra to focus on nature as a subject. While working part-time at a gallery in Durango that featured her miniatures, she was approached by a picture framer who asked if she featured her pieces in art shows specializing in miniatures. At the time, she had not heard of such shows.
Once she entered her first show, Kooistra joined a mailing list and ended up doing around 20 shows. Meanwhile, in 1989 and 1999, she was hired by the Northwest Iowa Audubon Society to paint birds on ostrich eggshells for their annual fundraisers.
Over the years, his artistic work has won numerous awards at national and international miniature exhibitions. In 2006 she – under the name 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 works under this name at the suggestion of MAA.
The average size of Kooistra miniature paintings is 2 inches by 2 inches. Today, she gets her ostrich eggshell pieces from the 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 first contact in Oklahoma provided her with so many pieces of ostrich eggshell that she only ran out about five years ago.
“I use nail files to shape (the pieces) the way I want to shape them,” she said, adding that she used nippers to break up any sharp angles. The thick shells of ostrich eggs are difficult, if not impossible, to crack with your fingers alone.
Once the shell has been deposited, Kooistra uses an ultra-fine permanent marker to draw its design. Once that’s settled for a few days, she begins the painting process.
“I usually work on four ornaments at a time,” she said. “I can rotate them through the drying process.”
Kooistra tries to make time each day to paint and she also works part-time for Buffalo Billfold Company in Worthington.
To purchase any of Kooistra’s creations, visit the Nobles County Art Center Facebook page, or to request a special order, email Kooistra at [email protected]
Each sale made during the showcase will benefit the art center which receives a commission on the works sold.
“It’s definitely been a tough time for them,” Kooistra said.
1/5: Miniature Artists of America artist Kimberly Jansen-Kooistra holds some of her miniature paintings to ostrich eggshells. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)
2/5: One of Kimberly Jansen Kooistra’s creations. (Globe Special)
3/5: One of Kimberly Jansen Kooistra’s creations. (Globe Special)
4/5: One of Kimberly Jansen Kooistra’s creations. (Globe Special)
5/5: One of Kimberly Jansen Kooistra’s creations. (Globe Special)