Local Artist Talks About ‘Happy Surprises’ of Painting with Watercolors

by | Oct 2019

CJ Longaecker, a watercolor artist who learned to paint at the Maple Grove Arts Center

Photos: Chris Emeott

CJ Longaecker learned to paint at the Maple Grove Arts Center, and she’s gone on to a successful artistic career.

Beauty that reveals itself through nature is CJ Longaecker’s greatest inspiration when it comes to her art. The former Maple Grove resident finds her muses in the colors of rocks, craggy and intricate tree bark or in the varying shades of green on a hillside of trees. “It is more like an emotion, which I get from a place,” Longaecker says, as she explains her work. “And I paint these emotions in an abstract and contemporary way.”

Longaecker’s medium of choice is watercolor.

“I started with watercolors and stuck with them,” she says, appreciating how colors and water combine and create. “Sometimes, they do what they want—whether that’s your objective or not, and, sometimes, you get happy surprises,” she says. Longaecker appreciates how much emotion she is able to express in her paintings through watercolors. The art form is very versatile; results vary depending on how wet or dry the [material] is or how much water she adds to the colors.

While Longaecker downsized a couple of years ago and moved to Minneapolis, she continues to regularly visit Maple Grove. She lived there for 18 years and still has many friends in the area, along with her favorite nail salon and shopping haunts! More important to her art, Maple Grove has so many beautiful vistas, where Longaecker can soak in the scenes and be inspired by the natural surroundings, including some of her favorites—the Maple Grove Arboretum, a 15-acre park along Elm Creek, and Weaver Lake Community Park, with some of its 80 acres snuggled up against Weaver Lake.

Another favorite Maple Grove space of Longaecker’s is the Maple Grove Arts Center. She refers to the arts center as a “gem of the city” and encourages others to visit the center’s exhibitions and participate in some of the classes it offers. “I took classes at the arts center to start my [painting] hobby. Later on, [it] has given me opportunities to exhibit my art and to meet and interact with other artists,” Longaecker says. “The resources of the arts center helped me develop my style.” That experience resulted in her becoming a confident, independent artist.

Longaecker’s distinctive style has created a group of patrons and followers over the years. She exhibits and sells her paintings at the Eight Broadway Gallery in Grand Marais, participates in group shows at the Robbin Gallery in Robbinsdale and has been an exhibitor at the Maple Grove Art Fair. In 2017, Longaecker held her most recent solo show, during which she showed larger formatted paintings for the first time. “For solo shows, you need a certain amount of paintings. Since I want to make sure that every piece of my art brings a smile on my face, and therefore on my visitors’ faces, I need time in between exhibitions.”

Longaecker remains on her artistic journey. “Every piece of art I create is an emotional experience,” she says, as she continues on the path of expressing natural beauty through her work.

Maple Grove Arts Center
11666 Fountains Drive

Discover the art of CJ Longaecker at watercolorsbycj.com.


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