By Jen Bakken
Sweet, innocent children nestled in beautifully natural settings are Jill Woodward’s favorite subjects to paint.
As a child growing up Iowa, Woodward could often be found drawing, or searching for paper to sketch on.
At the age of 4, her mother entered a drawing Woodward had made of Mickey Mouse in a contest, and she still remembers the excitement and pride she felt.
“My father was an artist, just for fun,” Woodward said. “There’s a lot of creativity in my family.”
Once achieving a major in art and psychology, she attended graduate school, and became a counselor for children.
Woodward and her husband, Dennis, moved to Delano seven years ago after living in Nebraska for 12 years, where she had a private practice.
Currently, she works part-time counseling children at Central Minnesota Mental Health Center in Buffalo. Her husband is employed with Michael Foods in Minnetonka.
Picking up the brush again, Woodward began doing more painting, as well as entering local art shows. She joined Gallery Maple Plain, a non-profit status artist cooperative gallery.
The gallery is located just west of Olson’s Gas Station at 5269 Highway 12 in Maple Plain. Fine art is featured by 18 local artists, including jewelry, garden art, weaving, painting, photography, and more.
“I have a mentor, Judith Anthony, who has helped me with my painting tremendously,” Woodward admitted. “I hope one day to mentor other aspiring painters, too.”
With a mother who is an artist, it’s no surprise Dennis and Jill’s three children are also creative.
John Woodward, the oldest, graduated from Delano High School this year. He plays several stringed instruments, writes music, enjoys making documentaries or music videos, and like his mother, can often be found sketching or painting.
Ellen, 16 years old, excels in creative writing, as well as sketching and painting.
Charles, 12 years old, is very athletic, plays the guitar, and also is following in his mother’s footsteps with his interest in sketching and painting.
Dennis has always been very supportive of his wife’s painting and love of art.
“He helps by attending art shows with me or delivering paintings to shows,” she said, before adding with a laugh. “He knows I get crabby without time to paint.”
With Woodward’s love of children, her background in counseling them, and passion for painting them, she decided to become a mentor.
Joining Pay It Forward Academy (PIF), she has been mentoring girls for the past two years. Helping them to develop a foundation of self-worth and trust while building life skills allows these girls to face adulthood with confidence.
“My favorite part is teaching the girls many ways to be creative,” she said. “If you keep creativity flowing, it influences your whole life.”
Many of this talented woman’s paintings begin with a photograph. Making a sketch on paper first, she then begins to create beautiful portraits with her oil paints on canvas.
“Original paintings on your wall are more compelling to look at,” she said. “And, they become a valued, treasured family keepsake.”
A walk through their Delano home reveals many of Woodward’s beautiful oil paintings, as well as the family dog, Reggie.
Reggie, a big fluffy cinnamon Chow Chow, waddles from room to room.
“We have had Chows our entire married life,” Woodward said. “They are so cute and they fit our style, our family, so well.”
For more information or to order paintings by Woodward, visit Gallery Maple Plain online at www.gallerymapleplain.org, or contact her direct at (763) 972-2066.
She will first meet with you, take photos, make sketches, and plan the painting with you personally. The process takes about six weeks, and her paintings range from approximately $200 to $500 in price. Gift certificates are available, as well.