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Everyone Has a Story: Coon Valley woman turns hobby into business

Sarah Pederson is a self taught artist who never imagined she would be paid for doing what she loves.

Sarah’s hobby blossomed into a business when she created a specialized niche in the French Trompe l’oeil style of painting that aims to fool the eye.

"It’s hard for me to even realize I even painted it when I look at it. I don’t know how I did that," said Sarah.

Customers come to Sarah with a general idea of what they want and Sarah takes it to the next level. Diana Hobson of DNA Vintners in La Crosse asked Sarah to paint a large wine bottle on her winery wall.  Sarah made a massive bottle and glass that people constantly comment on.

"A lot of enjoyment, a lot of people stopping and doing the posing.  I think it looks great," said Hobson.

Sarah says the technique she uses to paint her life like depictions is pretty straight forward.

"It just takes a lot of it is perspective and getting the right view point and then doing the shadows and the highlights," said Sarah.

Coon Valley is where Sarah’s mural craze first started. Sarah was asked to paint a mural in the Coon Valley Library. The topic though was a tough one and would entail painting a mural honoring the memory of a young boy who drowned in a swimming pool.

"Basically I shut my emotions down the whole time I was painting otherwise I would have been a big wreck. He loved nature and wildlife and butterflies, birds.  Anytime the family sees a feather it reminds them of him so I put that in there. And dandelions…I thought that was beautiful. He would pick them for his mom and put them in a vase because he thought they were they most beautiful flowers," said Sarah.

The principal at Coon Valley Elementary knew Sarah was the one who could work magic on a blank cinder block wall in the schools library media center.

"We actually have people who just stop in the school, sign in the office and ask if they can come in and see the mural," said Mike Berg.

Sarah’s work can be seen at the Coon Valley Fire Department, too.  Sarah gives her murals such life like attention to detail that the fire helmet she painted has the reflections of the fluorescent lights along the ceiling in it.

"I really like the 3D look of murals and it’s really fun to get the reaction from people so the more I do it the more I enjoy it," said Sarah.  

Sarah has painted everything from dragons and fairies in play rooms to life size wine barrels in residential wine cellars. The first one she ever painted is still in her home in Coon Valley.

To learn more about Sarah’s work including see a time lapse video of her creating her murals go to or follow her on Facebook.


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