Bio & CV

Julia Larsen, formerly Julia Jaakola, watercolor artist, is formally trained at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA and earned a B.F.A. degree in Illustration, 1989. She returned to Minnesota as a freelance artist for several agencies in MPLS. Her passion for retaining our natural environments guided her to work for Clean Water Action, 1994. Julia’s passion to protect our natural environment grew, and called Julia to teach. She earned a B.S. degree, Summa Cum Laude, in Education, grades 1-8, from Bemidji State University, 2003, and bridged her two degrees to retain an Art Education license, grades 1-12, 2008.

Julia discovered plein’ air painting, 2014, and eventually transitioned out of the public classroom, and into “God’s studio,” our natural environment.

She states, “I love the songs of the woods, blending upward visually in light. My responses to the natural environment, through watercolors, create a style that is expressive, and relate the spirit of a place to the viewer with eloquence and accuracy. I like to stand in a spot where an historic event has occurred, to hear echoes of the human plight and then allow the power and beauty to tell its story through me, and on to the paper. I love the tangle of past decades emerging out of the earth, contrasting the past with the present. The layering of time embodies a fascinating tapestry, to cause pause and to question, “What happened, what is happening, is this place cherished?”

Julia enjoys being a member of the Outdoor Painters of MN, and a Signature member of the MN Watercolor Society. She continues to advocate for protecting water, wolves, and wildlife.


Churning Tides at Glensheen in situ

2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023: Plein Air Grand Marais, Johnson Heritage Post Gallery, Grand Marais, MN

2021: Feature Watercolor Instructor and Speaker – Inaugural Washburn Plein Air Festival, Washburn Cultural Center, Washburn, WI

2021: Plein Air Duluth, Minnesota Fine Art Academy, Duluth, MN

2021: Prairie Lakes en Plein Air, Art of the Lakes Gallery, Battle Lake, MN

2019, 2020: Red Wing Plein Air Festival, Red Wing Arts Depot Gallery, Red Wing, MN

2018, 2019: Hudson Plein Air Festival, Seasons on St. Croix Gallery, Hudson, WI

2017: Plein Air Duluth – Paint du Nord, Blacklist Brewing Co., Duluth, MN

2017, 2018, 2019: Port Wing Plein Air, Port Wing Town Hall, Port Wing, WI

2016, 2017, 2018: Harvey Dunn Plein Air Paint Out, De Smet Event Center, De Smet, SD


2022: Art Loft – bore’al, St. Paul, MN 

2020: Solo Gallery Exhibition — Julia Jaakola Watercolors were featured from July 1 – August 31, 2020. Cloquet Pine Knot Newspaper Lobby located at 122 Ave C in Cloquet, MN 55720.

2020: Solo Gallery Exhibition — Julia Jaakola Watercolors solo gallery exhibition at the Rum River Art Center Anoka, MN. June 6 – July 1, 2020.

2020: The Minnesota State Capitol featured 40 works by the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota. Julia Jaakola’s Watercolor painting “Churning Tides at Glensheen” was the only Watercolor work featured.

2019: Outdoor Painters of Minnesota, MN Landscapes: Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul, MN

2018, 2019: Outdoor Painters of Minnesota Spring Salon, Gallery at Zeller Studio, Hopkins, MN

2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020: Minnesota Watercolor Society, Spring Juried Exhibitions, Chaska, MN

2015-2019 Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts Gift Shop, Fridley, MN

2015: Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts Gallery, “Tornado, The Art of Remembering,” Fridley, MN

2014: Original Paintings Exhibition, Blaine City Hall, Blaine, MN

2016, 2022: Encore! Performing Arts Center and Gallery, Cloquet, MN

2012, 2013, 2014: Krista Artista Art Gallery, Anoka, Minnesota

2011, 2012: Skyline Art Gallery and Gift Shop, Duluth Minnesota


Current: Arizona Plein Air Member

2021: Honey Bee Festival: Oldenburg Arts Foundation, Oldenburg House, Carlton, MN

2017, 2019, 2021: Loring Park Art Festival, Outdoor Painters of MN, MPLS, MN

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022: North Artists’ Studio Crawl, Anoka County, MN

2016, 2015: Cloquet Art Fair, Big Lake Golf Club, Cloquet, MN


2021: “Plein Air Painting on the St. Louis River – Using the Historical Approach in Capturing the Spirit of a Place When Painting en Plein Air.” West End Flourish Artist Grant Recipient. Funding made possible by Springboard for the Arts, RETHOS/Artists on Mainstreet Bush Foundation, City of Cloquet, Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community. Exhibited in the Pine Knot Newspaper Gallery, Cloquet, MN

Sacred River Spirits                                                                                                                                                          St. Louis River, Cloquet, MN 2021
Mixed Medium
10”x 20
Sacred River Spirits                                                                                                                                                          St. Louis River, Cloquet, MN 2021
Mixed Medium
10”x 20″

2022: Signature Status in the Minnesota Watercolor Society

2019: Honorable Mention, Minnesota Watercolor Society, Spring Juried Exhibition, Chaska, MN

2018: People’s Choice Award, Port Wing Plein Air, Port Wing, WI

2017: Honorable Mention, Plein Air Duluth – Paint du Nord, Duluth, MN

2013: Best in Show, “Winter in Minnesota,” Blaine Arts Council, Blaine City Hall, MN

2001: Second Place, Visual Art Award, “Gift from the Gods,” Mixed Media, Haute Dish Magazine, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota

1984: First Place, Visual Art Scholarship, Portfolio, College of the Redwoods, Eureka, California