Dee Teller stands with a print of her painting, “Horse Energy,” which won Best of Show at this year’s Sumi-e Society of America competition. The achievement was a “life goal” of Teller’s. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
The colors of the rainbow sit on Teller’s table in her studio. The walls of the studio are covered in various paintings and gifts she’s collected over the years. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Sumi brushes can be as small as a few bristles or as large as the one seen here. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Teller kept the brush from a Sumi-e Society of America competition and still uses it. It sits next to an ink dish she uses for ‘chopping’ (stamping her signature on) her artwork. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Sumi-e brushes are made of bamboo and animal hair. Just outside Teller’s studio, many sit on a shelf for display. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Artists, especially in China, ‘chop’ their work instead of signing it. A chop, like Teller’s, seen here, is essentially a stamp that marks an artist’s work and is individual to the artist. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
A trophy Teller won sits just up the stairs at her house. The golden statuette features a sumi brush and a chop block, used for signing the artwork. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Teller’s favorite Chinese character to paint is from the ‘Running Grass’ alphabet and means spirit. She often includes the character on her horse paintings. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
In the early ‘90s, Teller met LokTok, a famous Chinese artist who was taught by the even-more-famous Xu Beihong. Together, Teller and LokTok pose in front of his original artworks. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)

The colors of the rainbow sit on Teller’s table in her studio. The walls of the studio are covered in various paintings and gifts she’s collected over the years. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Teller kept the brush from a Sumi-e Society of America competition and still uses it. It sits next to an ink dish she uses for ‘chopping’ (stamping her signature on) her artwork. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Artists, especially in China, ‘chop’ their work instead of signing it. A chop, like Teller’s, seen here, is essentially a stamp that marks an artist’s work and is individual to the artist. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
A trophy Teller won sits just up the stairs at her house. The golden statuette features a sumi brush and a chop block, used for signing the artwork. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Teller’s favorite Chinese character to paint is from the ‘Running Grass’ alphabet and means spirit. She often includes the character on her horse paintings. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Dee Teller stands with a print of her painting, “Horse Energy,” which won Best of Show at this year’s Sumi-e Society of America competition. The achievement was a “life goal” of Teller’s. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Sumi-e brushes are made of bamboo and animal hair. Just outside Teller’s studio, many sit on a shelf for display. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Delene “Dee” Teller was too excited to sleep when she heard one of her paintings was awarded Best of Show in the 2022 Sumi-e Society of America competition. After 33 years in the Asian-brush-painting group, the achievement was one of the Faribault resident’s “life goals.”
Before graduating with a master’s in studio arts from Mankato State University, she was teaching for the Owatonna School District. It was around this time that she entered an art show in Duluth.
A college professor from southern China was giving feedback on everyone’s artwork. He saved Teller’s for the end.
“The Chinese professor saved my work for last and he said, ‘From Teller, I could learn,’” she said. “So, I drove home from Duluth four feet above the highway. I didn’t use any gas. I was so excited. He said, ‘You have to come to China and study.’”
Teller didn’t have much money at the time, so she began selling her artwork and seeking investors. Eventually, she had enough money, traveled to China and began to develop her skills.
She’s become best known for her horse paintings using sumi-e, or Asian brush stroke painting. Horse painting is a popular sub-genre of the sumi-e style.
Some of her works are currently on display at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.
She became internationally known when she got invited to a competition in Beijing, which was put on by the Ministry of Culture in 1992. Of the some-6,000 artists in the contest, she placed third.
Best of Show
While several of her works have won the individual categories over the years, this is the first time one of her paintings have been named Best of Show.
Teller doesn’t attribute her success entirely to her own gift, though.
“I studied with a horse master for 17 years,” said Teller. “A Chinese man named LokTok. He was imprisoned during the cultural revolution because he was an intellectual. So, for 13 years, he was in prison. He was living in Beijing and cartooned for the Beijing newspaper, so you can imagine. He probably did some political satire, you know.”
LokTok was Teller’s inspiration and she attributes her success to him. She said, when he first saw her paint, he grabbed her by the shirt and said, “you must come live with me.”
In the early ‘90s, Teller met LokTok, a famous Chinese artist who was taught by the even-more-famous Xu Beihong. Together, Teller and LokTok pose in front of his original artworks. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Especially in China, Teller said, it’s common to live with your teacher. She described LokTok as her, “father-in-art.”
LokTok’s mentor was Xu Beihong, who is considered the “most famous horse painter,” according to Teller.
Xu’s secondhand influence was exemplified during a competition in China. In order to prove the artists are who they say, the judges watch them paint, which made Teller nervous. Once she — the only white person in the competition — got to work, one of the judges stopped her to ask, “How do you know how to paint like Xu Beihong?”
She responded, “He’s my grandfather-in-art. LokTok was my teacher.” The judge was shocked because he assumed LokTok was dead. Teller won in her category that year, in 1992, with her first-ever horse painting.
Sumi style
Sumi brushes can be as small as a few bristles or as large as the one seen here. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)
Sumi paintbrushes are made with an animal’s hair and typically have a handle made of bamboo. The unique art style is characterized by monochromatic and wispy brush strokes, which are often found in Chinese, Japanese and Korean artworks.
Teller’s 2022-award-winning painting, “Horse Energy,” features two horses — one black and one brown — galloping with their manes and tails flowing behind them.
The Asian-inspired work lacks most of the outlines a traditional realist painting might have and the negative space is unlike many Americana landscapes.
She said the negative space is intentionally left empty, so you create a balance of positive and negative, of good and evil. The finer details aren’t as important as in other art styles either.
According to Teller, the quick, light brush strokes are globally recognized for their ability to portray motion. The three-dimensional action in the painting gives the illusion that the horses could zip off the canvas at any moment.
“It’s tricky,” she said about the art style. “The first two weeks, I had to think about it every time. But what happens is the energy comes from the center of your feet, down through your arm and into your hand. It’s an indescribable feeling of getting the ink across the rice paper.”
The day she found out she’d won Best of Show, she was invited to give a speech on a Zoom call. The same excitement that kept her up all night, made her forget to unmute herself. She was embarrassed at the time but she can’t help but to laugh it off now.
Reach Reporter Colton Kemp at 507-333-3129. © Copyright 2022 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Data included is taken from the Minnesota Department of Health Daily reports. Because all data is preliminary, the change in number of cumulative positive cases and deaths from one day to the next may not equal the newly reported cases or deaths.
Sorry, an error occurred.

Delivered Tuesday through Saturday mornings.
Delivered Wednesday and Saturday.
Delivered Wednesday and Saturday.
Delivered Tuesday morning.
Delivered Tuesday through Saturday mornings.
Delivered Tuesday through Saturday mornings.
Delivered Tuesday through Saturday mornings. 
Delivered Wednesday and Saturday.
Delivered Wednesday and Saturday.
Sign up with

Thank you .
Your account has been registered, and you are now logged in.
Check your email for details.
Invalid password or account does not exist
Sign in with
Submitting this form below will send a message to your email with a link to change your password.
An email message containing instructions on how to reset your password has been sent to the e-mail address listed on your account.

Secure & Encrypted
Secure transaction. Cancel anytime.

Thank you.
Your purchase was successful, and you are now logged in.
A receipt was sent to your email.

source

Shop Sephari