Luanne Peterson of Harmony holds a painting she recently completed of three deer frolicking through the fields near their family farm. The painting will be a gift to her grandson, who will be moving to the farm in the spring.
Luanne Peterson of Harmony holds a painting she recently completed of three deer frolicking through the fields near their family farm. The painting will be a gift to her grandson, who will be moving to the farm in the spring.
Some are coming. Some are going.

At the beginning of each new day.

Some will hurry home for chores,

And some will go far away.

The above words are the poetic introduction to Luanne Peterson's Christmas letter, printed next to a photo of her painting of the Harmony depot and grain elevator. This painting was created to be entered into the Cornucopia Art Gallery's "Elevation: A Regional Group Exhibition on Grain Elevators," something that 78-year-old Luanne had never done before.

She admits that the whole experience of being part of the exhibition left her breathless.

"I had never been a part of an art show before," Luanne said. "Robbie (Brokken) met me by the door and led me back to the exhibit. I thought she was just going to show me my painting hanging there, but instead she showed me this little sticker that said 'Sold.' It was sold before I even got there."

With a huge smile on her face, Luanne added, "I could barely breathe, I was thrilled to death."

It was one of the first paintings Luanne had ever sold, having sold just one prior to a friend. "I've given two away, but this is the first I've sold in a show," she added. "I'm looking forward to entering another one, hopefully soon."

She describes the painting as being the Harmony Depot as it looked in 1952, the year she and her husband were married. "We got all of our feed there," she said. "It was something I just always wanted to paint."

The frame for the painting was handmade by Lee Fishbaugher of Harmony, which added just the right look for the painting.

"I am thankful that I can still paint," she said. "This painting has been my way of giving back to the people around me."

Luanne explains that she paints history. While living on her farm, with her late husband, Lloyd, she painted the history of the farm. Now living in town, Luanne is looking forward to painting the history of Harmony.

The old high school will be featured in her next painting, but she has other hopes for painting historic homes and buildings around town. She would really appreciate having copies of old photos of some of Harmony's oldest buildings, including the cattle buying station and other buildings located near the building where she and her son, Larry, have been operating High Pointe Coverings and Meadow Lane Art Gallery.

Luanne's hands have sometimes given her trouble, as arthritis sets in, but she is determined to keep painting as long as she is able. "I've got plenty I want to do yet," she said.

If community members would share old photos with her, Luanne said it would help her get the right details she needs to accurately record history. "It's important to me," she added.

These historical-type of paintings are so fun to do, she said and especially loved doing the one for the exhibition in Lanesboro, which continues to be open through Jan. 10.

"I'm almost ready to do it again," she said about painting the depot and elevator scene, but noted she would do it from a different perspective, showing more buildings and adding different details.

One of her favorite paintings is one she painted of The Spring House Crossing, a scene of Wayne Hoag's farm. "You can almost see all of the history of that farm," she said.

Hoag had shared a lot of photos with her and their farm was a neighboring property as well. The Hoag family was one of the first to settle in Fillmore County in 1852 and if one looks closely at the bench in the painting, one can see the date 1852 carved into the small bench.

Through the years, since painting her first in 1980, Luanne has completed more than 50 paintings. "I've lost count," she said with a chuckle. "But I've painted the whole State Line," she added about the subjects of her paintings.

Her first painting was inspired by a request from her husband to paint an Amish friend who had passed away. "Lloyd asked me to paint him as I remembered him, so I painted him as a blacksmith," she explained.

She recently shared that painting with this man's sister and while Luanne was apprehensive as to how it would be received, the man's sister was deeply touched and glad that it inspired Luanne to begin painting.

Luanne only uses oil paint on canvas to create her works of art. "Oil is easier to change," she noted. "Some of my finished paintings have dozens of pictures underneath. I make changes to them all the time."

She cheerfully shared a story about spending an afternoon painting a large tree branch in the center of the painting while her husband slumbered nearby. "When I showed Lloyd the painting, he suggested I take out the branch. The same branch I had been painting all afternoon while he was sleeping," she shared. "But I took the branch out and he was right. Sometimes when you show someone a painting, they can see something you didn't. He was right. But that branch is still under the final painting somewhere."

The Petersons are selling their building in Harmony and moving the High Pointe Coverings business to their family farm. With that comes the closing of Meadow Lane Art Gallery. Luanne explained that Peggy Bjortomt, owner of Old Ways New Ideas has agreed to have her paintings at the store in Harmony. Prints of her paintings, note cards and other items inspired by Luanne's paintings are also available there. "She has been so good to me," said Luanne. "She's a great promoter."

Luanne said that one day she hopes to get into the real art world, offering limited edition prints of one of her paintings. "If I did that, I know which one it would be too," she added.

The painting would be "A Mother's Love," a painting of a woman feeding a calf with her daughter as the mother cow looks over a barn door. She painted that piece in 1984 and continues to be one of her more popular.

Luanne says she has always done artwork, but didn't start painting until 1980. Her father was a painter and shared his love of art with his daughter.

"My dad was an artist," Luanne shared. "He gave most of his paintings away, but I got five of them back after he died. I guess I learned how to paint sitting on his knee as a child."

Peterson did her first painting in 1962, a picture of Jesus. She stopped painting for several years while she raised her four children. Then, in 1980, she resumed her painting after her husband urged her to paint their Amish friend.

From there on, Peterson claimed the paintings just kept coming, averaging about one a year, with a few extra thrown in here and there.

Many of Peterson's paintings are of Amish scenes, Amish people baking and milking and working on the farms. Some of them are of places that she has lived or known.

While Luanne paints in oils, she said that her father used to paint with enamel.

"One year I gave my father a set of oil paints for Christmas," she shared. "For my birthday that year he gave them back to me with three paintings."

Luanne has a book of her paintings, complete with a description of each and a poem she has written. These books are also available in Old Ways New Ideas in Harmony

As her father passed on his love of art to her, she passed it on to her son, Larry, who is also an artist, carving things out of wood and making some of the postcards that are for sale. He also paints, but admitted that it takes him a long time.

Luanne is currently working on a painting as a surprise for a friend, so details of that painting will not be shared. However, another new painting, currently hanging on the wall of her home, shows three deer bounding through a field near their family farm. While she had intended to sell the painting, she just couldn't let it go.

Now, her grandson, Chris, is working on renovating the old farmhouse and will be moving in there in the spring. The painting, Luanne said, will be his to hang in his new home, sharing the spirit of his family's art, but also capturing a scene of history.

One can see Luanne's painting in the Cornucopia Art Center's "Elevation: A Regional Group Exhibition on Grain Elevators," among the juried show featuring work by 16 other artists. The exhibit runs through Jan. 10 and is free to the public.