Like many other artists Kimberly Jansen views the world a little differently. She sees the world in miniature.

Kimberly hails from Worthington, MN, and works primarily in a unique style called miniature. To qualify as miniature art the piece has to have precise proportions and must be smaller than a 1:6 ratio when you compare the subject matter in the artwork to real-life size of an object.

It sounds easy enough, but according to Kimberly, working in miniature takes time.

“Working in miniatures takes much more time than regular artwork does so, on average,” Kimberly said.

“It takes at least triple the amount of time per square inch to do miniature art.”

In general, Kimberly works on much smaller canvases.

“I don’t do big pieces often because they take so long that I get bored by the time it’s done,” Kimberly said. “An 8x10 is as big as my work is going to get.”

The majority of Kimberly’s work classifies as miniature, but she works in a wide variety of mediums including oil, pastel, watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil, casein, gouache and metal point.

“I am usually working on at least four pieces at a time, usually in different genres,” Kimberly said. “Sometimes I get tired of working on something so I put it aside and let my brain just think about that piece for a while. Then I can go back to it later and know what it needs.”

Kimberly’s subject matter is also varied. Some of her subjects include florals, birds, landscapes.

“I work with mostly nature stuff. I feel like I am copying God’s creation,” Kimberly said. “I look at God’s creation and I never get it exactly right but I enjoy trying to capture his creations.”

Sometimes Kimberly works from an idea, but more often she works from photos that she has taken.

“I have albums and albums of photos I’ve taken and enough ideas for five lifetimes,” Kimberly said.

One of the special treats she does for the holidays is to take pieces of ostrich shells and paint special ornaments for the Christmas tree. She sells them every year.

Back to the beginning

Kimberly’s journey as an artist began when she was young.

“When I was in junior high school, I remember my art teacher wrote on my report card in giant letters, ‘You Are An Artist,’” Kimberly said. “Ever since I was little people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up and I said that I wanted to be an artist. It never changed.”

Kimberly’s artistic talent might just be a family trait.

“My mom’s mom was an artist who worked in ink and pencil and my grandma’s dad was also an artist,” Kimberly said. “I remember whenever I went to stay with her we would sit and draw.”

She ended up taking classes at the Pearson Lakes Art Center and after she graduated from Worthington High School in 1978 she eventually decided to attend cosmetology school.

It was in this unlikely place, that Kimberly’s love of miniature sparked to life.

“I had never had my nails done before and after our class we were supposed to go home and do nail art on at least one of our fingernails. When you say nail art, I thought ‘art,’” Kimberly said. “I did my ring finger on my left hand. I painted a ski slope with chair lifts, trees, mountains and a skier going down. I had no clue that wasn’t stereotypical nail art. I just did it.”

To say the least, it impressed her teacher and she had four job offers from salons before she even graduated.

After a while, one of Kimberly’s clients encouraged her to take her art beyond nails.

“She was on the board of the Tulsa Art Center. The board commissioned me to do 1 ½ by 2-inch paintings of the grounds and gardens that they then sold them in the gift shop,” Kimberly said.

After working as a nail tech for eight years and painting for the Tulsa Art Center for five to six years, Kimberly decided to make a change and focus more on her art.

She made a move to Dorango, CO, where she worked in a gallery where she had a chance encounter that changed her life.

“A frame salesman came in one day to the gallery and asked who did the miniatures,” Kimberly said. “I didn’t even know there was an exact term for what I was doing. He told me that I had to enter my work for the miniature show in Colorado Springs.”

That was in 1996 and Kimberly has been showing her artwork in miniature shows all over the world. In 2006, ten years after she started entering her artwork into shows, Kimberly was inducted into the Miniature Artists of America, which is an invitational organization of artists that only has about 80 members.

“I like when people look at my art and say, “Wow! How did you do that,’” Kimberly said. “Every artist has to find their niche and I’ve found mine in miniatures.” 

From the 2015 edition of Okoboji Magazine.