Watercolor artist Laurie Asahara on art and Idaho
By Liza Long Photos Kimberlee Miller
From the lush tropical landscape of her native home, Hawaii, to the rolling hills and fields of Eagle, Idaho, watercolor artist Laurie Asahara creates luminous interpretations of florals and landscapes and captures the inner beauty of her subjects through her portrait art. Represented by Finer Frames in Eagle, Asahara is an award-winning distinguished signature member of the Idaho Watercolor Society and is also a member of the Nampa Art Guild and Plein Air Painters of Idaho. In addition to her personal art, she accepts commissions and teaches classes and workshops. I spoke with Asahara to learn more about her current projects and how art shapes her life.
EM: Eagle Magazine first featured you in 2007. What has changed during the last ten years in your life and in your art?
A: Just about everything has changed in a good way! People now introduce me as “the finest watercolor painter in Idaho,” and to be recognized by fellow artists like that is a real honor. My work has been included in corporate collections around the state, chosen to represent the strength and iconic vision of Idaho. In my portrait art, I look for authentic, real Idahoans to feature in my work. I joined the watercolor society right after I moved here in 2007, and I submitted a rodeo bull rider painting as my first competition piece, which won the Western Idaho Fair in a category that was usually won by oil painters. That initial opportunity connected me to so many other amazing artists in this community, and those relationships have really strengthened over the years. I feel like I am on the right path, with state and national recognition for my work.
EM: What is the artistic process like for you?
A: As an artist, I am known for my color, and I know that’s from growing up in Hawaii, with the fragrance of flowers in my nose and all the colors in my eyes. But though it’s so different from Hawaii, for creating art, Idaho is a beautiful place to be. When you live in one place as long as I have lived here, you take your art to a whole new level. People are transported to a moment of poignancy when they see that kind of art. I get to go through the world with an artist’s eye and see things like an artist sees them. Most people only take the time to see things like an artist when they are on vacation. Now, as I gain mastery of another medium, I have to make that initial decision: is this subject better suited for watercolor or oil? I’m excited to see how the public reacts to my expanded palette.
EM: The New Year is always a time for new beginnings. What advice would you give to someone who has always wanted to try painting but never has? A: Anyone who wants to learn is so lucky to live here, where so many artists teach a variety of media (through places like Quality Art, Finer Frames, etc.). A class can expose you to a particular style of painting with an artist who can give you an idea of where to start and lead you by the hand. If that style doesn’t suit you, don’t give up! Try something else and see what grabs you. We are so fortunate to live in a community of supportive, giving artists who can help you to feel like an artist in a relatively short amount of time. Once you learn the basics, you can find your own style.
To see Laurie Asahara’s art or learn more about her work, visit her website at laurieasahara.com or stop by Finer Frames in Eagle. Her work will also be featured through the end of January at Northwest Nazarene University.
Pull Quote: “For creating art, Idaho is a beautiful place to be.” Laurie Asahara, award-winning artist