Abby Ostermeier, a junior at Kewaunee High School, started painting when she was 15. Now, just two years later, her art is on display at Algoma’s Ladybug Glass Studio & Gallery.
High school art teachers such as Terry Worth helped Ostermeier to refine her techniques. But she had a more unconventional mentor, too: the late Bob Ross, host of The Joy of Painting, who was famous for his “happy little trees.”
“The first two or three [paintings] I did, I followed his videos,” Ostermeier said. “But once I got the basics down, like how to do trees and mountains, I branched off.”
Now Ostermeier no longer uses references for her paintings and simply relies on her imagination to fill her acrylic landscapes with snow-covered pines, stormy skies and lush green islands.
Once Ostermeier started painting, her mother, Jackie Kassner, said she improved quickly.
“When I look back at her first painting, it was good,” Kassner said, “but as she progressed, her details became just phenomenal.”
That talent runs in the family. Ostermeier’s grandmother on her father’s side was a painter, too, working mostly in oils, Kassner said.
“She passed away before I was born,” Ostermeier said, “but she was a great artist” and a major source of inspiration.
As art teachers started noticing Ostermeier’s talent, they pushed her to explore artistic opportunities, so she and her mom visited a few local galleries to show owners her work.
Ostermeier didn’t ask to be exhibited, but when Ladybug Glass Studio & Gallery owner Kimberly Lyon saw her work, she offered her a spot on a gallery wall.
“I was really impressed with how well she paints,” Lyon said, especially because she was initially caught off guard by how young Ostermeier was. Lyon had previously hosted a gallery show with Algoma High School students as part of Youth Art Month, but she’d never shown the work of a high schooler as a solo exhibitor.
Lyon is “treating her just like I treat all of my adult guest artists” and pricing Ostermeier’s works as such. In doing so, she hopes to encourage other student artists.
“It’s important for the community to know that we have great young artists in the area,” Lyon said.
Ostermeier’s art will be on display at Ladybug Glass Studio & Gallery, 219 Steele St. in Algoma, until the end of February. The gallery is open Thursday and Friday, 10 am – 5 pm, and Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm.