Jo Sonja Jansen

"A Folk Artist: One who finds sheer joy in painting simple straight forward decorations in rich and beautiful colors."


The above description of a decorative folk artist is my favorite one. Many people believe a folk artist to be an untutored artist and I could fit into this description also. Except for one and a half years of work under a very skilled decorative artist, I am self taught, beginning with sketching in childhood through oil painting in my teens, when I won my first art contest.  

Then followed school of nursing, marriage, children and college years. Years too busy with just plain living to devote much time to painting. When the children began school, my interest in art revived, this time in the area of decorative folk art.

Norwegian heritage from my father, Penn. Dutch, English and a bit of Spanish from my mother suddenly fused with the painting interest and folk art became an expression that refused to be denied.

In 1974, I was awarded a Master Teacher's Certificate by the National Society of Tole and Decorative Painters. In 1980 the Silver Palette award was bestowed by the same organization in recognition of outstanding contribution to the advancement of Decorative Art. In 1996, the Vesterheim Gold Medal (VGM) in Rosemaling, from the Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa became a treasured reality. In 2007 I was awarded the Presidents Commendation award for service by the Society of Decorative Painters.

Following almost 40 years of very active teaching, research and personal painting, we now enjoy a small place of business in the coastal Victorian town of Eureka in Northern California, among the giant redwoods. The scope of our work has become international and our work has appeared in cities, museums, and homes around the world, from The White House and Smithsonian to "Mom's" kitchen.

Over the course of the past 35 years I have had the pleasure of authoring over 60 books, sharing the joy of folk art expression and decorative painting throughout the world. Throughout our creative journeys, our greatest joy has been the artists with whom we've shared this art form. Together we've created a revival of interest in the decorative arts, the scope of which is still rapidly expanding. In this ever-growing marketplace, we try to keep an emphasis on individual participation and personal contribution - the heart and soul of decorative folk art. It is with the support and encouragement of these dedicated artists and friends that we continue.