Art should be fun! Local woman combines passion for animals and art

Heidi Sather is pictured with her version of a cartoon owl. She gifted her latest grandchild with a replica painting including a wooden frame she made to go with it. (photo by Mavis Gonshorowski)

“I’ve always had a passion for two things in life… animals, and art”, Heidi Sather remarked. “I’ve now found a way to combine those two passions, creating custom watercolor pet portraits. My goal for 2021 is to set up an online store and begin taking commissions. Just by sharing my journey of learning watercolors with friends and family on Facebook, I’ve already got a waiting list of people who want me to paint pet portraits for them. I feel there are still some skills I need to improve, but, I’m getting there. I feel the most important part of doing portraits for others is to make sure the final painting captures the essence the individual pet. To me, the eyes are the most important feature.

“Although I’ve always loved art, I’ve had very little formal training. The only art instruction outside of high school I can remember is a pen and ink drawing class taught by Marv Espe, which I completed while in high school. After starting a family, life got very busy, and I let my art fall by the wayside. I did some woodwork now and then, but very little drawing, until 2017.

After losing my beloved boxer, Kaiden, I spent a lot of time looking through all my photos of him. I decided I really wanted to create something with my own hands, as a way to memorialize him. I dug out my art supplies and did some pen and ink drawings of him. It was very therapeutic to create something tangible from the sadness I was feeling at the time. Art has a way of making you focus on what’s in front of you, and for a time you can leave all of your worries behind. Once I began drawing again, I realized how much I’d missed it.”

Although she’d done a lot of drawing, Heidi had never done any painting. After taking a few acrylic painting classes at “Creatively Uncorked” in Fargo, she decided to explore watercolor painting as well. By experimenting with both mediums, Heidi found she enjoyed working with watercolor more than acrylics. The materials are relatively inexpensive, and cleanup is much easier than with acrylics. You can start out learning with very inexpensive wood pulp paper, but once you’ve learned the basic techniques, Heidi recommends upgrading to 100% cotton paper. Most of the work she does now is on cold pressed paper, although others prefer to work on hot pressed or rough paper. It’s really up to the individual artist what they feel most comfortable using.

In the fall of 2019 this amazingly talented woman began working with watercolor. Comparing her first paintings to her present work clearly shows unending determination, patience, and skill that has brought her to where she is today.

“I enjoy painting all animals, but horses and dogs are my favorites,” stated Heidi. “I believe that is partly because I’m so familiar with their skeletal structure – that it’s more intuitive for me to place highlights and shadows correctly. I love the process of seeing a painting come to life on the paper.”

Other animals she has painted include cats, birds, cattle, zebras, lions, giraffes, and elephants. Not all paintings are realistically styled, as Heidi has created whimsical styled nursery art as well.

Heidi, who has been manager of Co-op Service West going on eight years, and her husband, Mitch, are the parents of two sons, Jesse (Brittany) of rural Greenbush, and Sean (Sadie) of West Fargo, N.D. They are the grandparents of seven. Heidi loves to share the fun of creativity with her grandchildren as well. “Let’s Make Art: Kids” is a fantastic resource to introduce kids to being creative through art. There are tutorials specifically for kids on YouTube, and you can use your own materials, or order kits directly from the company online. When creating with her grandchildren, she stresses that art is not simply about the product, it’s about enjoying the process.

“Art Should Be Fun!”

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