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Atwater’s Mark Haen to showcase the one-of-kind beauty of fluid acrylic painting during 2024 Studio Hop – West Central Tribune


— For Mark Haen, an Atwater-based artist who is opening his Curiosity Cabin studio space to the public during this year’s Willmar Area Arts Council Studio Hop, taking part in this year’s event isn’t about selling his artwork. Instead, he is more looking forward to introducing visitors to the art he creates and even letting them have a hand at creating some themselves.

“I’m nuts about sharing,” Haen said.

Studio Hop takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 14 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 15. Haen will be exhibiting, selling and demonstrating fluid acrylic painting, along with some oil painting, at his studio located at 14991 49th Avenue Northeast, near Atwater on Diamond Lake. He’ll be joining 19 other artists who will be showcasing their talents at studio spaces in Willmar, Svea, Spicer and New London.

A full list of artists, along with more information on the Hop, can be found online at


“I will be demoing all day,” Haen said, adding visitors will have a chance to try their hand at fluid acrylic painting as well.

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Mark Haen uses a hair dryer to push paint around on a canvas at his home studio along Diamond Lake on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Haen has been artistic for most of his life, both in visual arts and as a musician. He owned Audio Signatures, a music business and recording studio in Olivia, for several years, and also had a career as a photographer. He now lives in a specially built music and art studio that he calls the Curiosity Cabin, a creative space artists of all sorts can come and use. He also rents out the main home on the property as a vacation rental.

“I really like it, I get to meet people from all over,” Haen said.

While he has always been interested in art, he didn’t take up painting until later in life. His children gifted him a how to paint instructional DVD, hosted by famous painter and instructor Bob Ross. The painting Haen completed with the video was his first, and it hangs proudly in his studio space.

While the process wasn’t exactly easy, and it took him a few tries to get things right, it opened a whole new artistic passion and showed that one can pick up a new skill and hobby no matter their age or ability.

Hanging on his studio walls along with his first painting are other examples of Haen’s oil paintings. His subject matter varies greatly with a substantial helping of imagination. Haen said he likes to take pictures done by others and put his own spin on them.

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Atwater artist Mark Haen explains the process for creating fluid acrylic artwork at his home studio on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

“I understand painting so much more,” Haen said.

A few years ago Haen came across fluid acrylic painting, which uses acrylic paints mixed with additives that create a paint of a thin consistency that can be poured on to a canvas and then manipulated using various items including hair dryers, beads, balloons and pretty much anything else an artist comes up with. The specially prepared paint and a chemical called floetral help create imaginative and one-of-a-kind paintings.

At first, he tried to learn on his own by watching videos online and through his own experimentation. He eventually took a class on the painting style.

“All of this is new, the whole fluid thing,” Haen said.

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Mark Haen shows what a piece of his fluid acrylic artwork looks like midway through experimenting with the project at his home studio near Atwater on Friday, May 28, 2024.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

One of the best parts about fluid painting is the experimentation that is part of the process. One never knows how colors will react or which way the paint will swirl or twist as cool air is blown through or a string of beads is trailed around the canvas. Each and every fluid acrylic painting is unique because it would be practically impossible to recreate how it was created. Even just how the paint is initially poured onto the prepared canvas will impact the finished look.

“I love to experiment,” Haen said, adding it can be difficult to know where to stop

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Atwater-based artist Mark Haen talks about a piece of his artwork at his home studio on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Haen is looking forward to Studio Hop and sharing this unique art style with visitors. He hopes seeing his work, along with traveling to the other studios taking part, will inspire people to try new things, be creative, experiment and learn.

“You don’t have to be totally artistic to do it, you just have to have a lot of patience,” Haen said. “There are so many things you can do with acrylic paint.”

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Mark Haen shows off pieces of his art at his home studio on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Shelby Lindrud

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email [email protected] or direct 320-214-4373.