By Jude Genereaux
Some of us recognize immediately what we should do with our lives and where we want to focus our creative energies. Katie Musolff is one of those people, blessed with singular artistic intention at a very young age. Growing up near Milwaukee, the southern Wisconsin artist attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Today, she is still a working artist, following her passion through every day of her life.
After meeting husband and fellow artist Andy Fletcher, the two decided to launch their new careers while living in Stoddard, WI, near the backwaters of the Mississippi River. Focusing on watercolor and gouache as her chosen media, Katie was initially a portrait artist. The natural world soon claimed her attention, however, and became her main source of inspiration. In Stoddard, she says, she “discovered a richly layered natural world, teaming what specimens to collect, what stories to tell.”
Wandering the woods and riverbanks of their rural homestead, Musolff would always return home with pockets full of treasures – flowers, leaves, moss, bark, driftwood, a fallen bird or butterfly, and reverently placed them on a proper background that felt right to her. The she would paint a still life of the collected forest detritus, in nearly photographic detail. “I paint from direct observation,” she says, “trying to preserve the sense of wonder that drew me to these beautiful collections in the first place.”
“I don’t set up a scene,” Musolff notes, she simply arranges her mementos in an order that is synergistic to her way of seeing them. She explains that her technique is widely known as “trompe l’oeil,” an artistic trick of the eye defined as “using realistic imagery to create an optical illusion of depth.”
From the banks of the Mississippi, Katie and Andy have now returned to the eastern side of the state, finding a farm just north of Milwaukee, where they are passionate about both gardening and their respective artistic endeavors. Musolff says her art helps her say “stop and look” to its viewers, to take closer notice of what “grows up between the cracks in the pavement, or what you hit with your car yesterday.” In that fashion, she hopes to elevate the importance of the smaller things that make up our world and call others to notice them, too.
Musolff’s work is seen often in the pages of this publication. Although she has not yet placed her work with a Door County gallery, Milwaukee’s Tory Folliard Gallery has represented her for several years, and www.katiemusolff.com will quickly introduce you to her unique ‘found’ collections, displaying a wonder of personal journal entries that are heightened by stunning watercolors.