Becky Jokela’s ‘Reflection’

Reflection by Becky Jokela, Pastel painting, 18 x 24

This year I had the honor of serving as a juror for the drawing and pastels class at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. Each year, the Exhibition proves an amazing showcase of amateur and professional artists representing the diversity and talent of Minnesota artists. This post is to highlight the artist who I awarded an honorable mention: Becky Jokela and her pastel painting Reflection.

I enjoyed the way Becky captured the early spring light and reflection on the snow and river, as well as capturing the optimism of that first hint of spring after a long winter. I was curious to learn more about what inspired Becky to create Reflection and this is what she said:

‘Reflection’ is a painting I created as part of my project, ‘Sogn Valley – Painting the Little Cannon Watershed’. Thanks to a SEMAC (Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council) grant, I spent a year creating paintings of the Little Cannon River with sketches and field studies done on site. From the headwaters near Kenyon to the junction with the Cannon River in Cannon Falls, I explored the river and watershed with the surrounding hills, meadows, pastures, woodland valleys, snow melt, springs and creeks.

Clearly, there was an abundance of subject matter along this 35 mile long river and watershed, but I was most excited to paint the limestone outcropping near the Old Oxford Mill. These dramatic limestone cliffs just around the river bend supplied limestone for building the late 19th century mill. When I was a kid, our school bus passed by this scene every day. Even then I thought the mill was cool and the cliffs were stunning. Fast forward a few decades and here I am painting them!

I chose the winter to paint this scene. It is not only my favorite season to paint but winter accentuates the drama of these limestone cliffs reflecting into the Little Cannon River. I loved the entire process… Tromping through the snow, creating two small paintings, still winter but warm enough to stand outside and paint for a couple of hours, and later creating the larger painting in the warmth of my studio. ‘Reflection’ is my favorite painting of the series, so I’m especially thrilled to have received an award at the state fair!

When I look at this landscape, I almost feel the early Spring sun on my face, the return of moisture to the air, and just the hint of the world waking up after a long Minnesota Winter. This image of the long awaited turn of the season from Winter to Spring, the turn from a child watching from a school bus to an adult to capturing the scene in pastels, reminds me of the steady but sure passage of time, like the peaceful flowing of the Little Cannon River passed the timeless limestone cliff face.

If you attend the Fair this year, stop by the Fine Arts building at the corner of Randall and Cosgrove, otherwise take a look at the online catalog . Learn more about Becky Jokela at