Stephanie Olson Teaching Artist


Writing and Visual Art Residency

Stephanie is a fierce believer that art is for everyone.  She uses both visual and literary art to encourage students to explore, develop, and value their own potent voices and stories.  Her medium is most often watercolor, but she also enjoys introducing less widely known materials, such as burnt willow charcoal.  She hopes each student leaves her classes with the tools and knowledge to grow their own practice and love of art and self.

Stephanie Olson is a mother, writer, and artist who lives on a fourth-generation working farm just outside Thief River Falls, Minnesota.  Her chapbook, “Canon”, is available through Red Bird Chapbooks, and examples of her art can be found at

“Stephanie has a calming presence combined with a wonderful ability to inspire kids to create without boundaries and barriers.  Their imagination flourishes.  Magic happens.”


“Self in Self-Portrait”

This offering can be adapted for nearly any age group and setting, and I believe it can work as a one time one hour class as well as a weeklong course.

  1.  First, students will be asked to draw a flower.
  2.  Next, we will compare flowers.  I will also share one of my own, and maybe some by my children.
  3.  We will discuss how different the flowers are, how they are all valid and beautiful, and the impact of all of them when grouped together.
  4.  Next, I will share examples of my self-portraits and my children’s self-portraits.
  5.  I will explain the main project of creating self-portraits.  Students will be instructed to think of “their place in the world” to depict in the body or dress portion of the self-portrait.  This will be open, literal or abstract, and students will be shown techniques to experiment with.
  6.  If a longer course, students will be asked to also write a description of “their place in the world.”
  7.  We will share self-portraits with each other.
  8.  A public showing will showcase the results of the residency.

Students will explore loose, quick drawing and painting styles while learning more about themselves as unique, valuable, and beautiful human beings.   Students will explore and write a description of “their place in the world” through guided exercises by Stephanie on creative writing.  This will build self-worth and pride in themselves while improving their ability to convey their message in words.  The end result will be a whimsical portrait in watercolor shared during an open mic or video presentation with family and community.  A great project that incorporates visual art, with writing, with improving self image and respecting others and their uniqueness.

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