Typically an artist who works in neutral tones, Staples resident Patricia Lintner finds herself immersed in color these days.
It was not so much a conscious choice for Lintner, president of the Brainerd Area Art Guild, but rather what felt intuitive to her in the moment.
“I just felt like I just need something uplifting, and more and more my work has just been getting more colorful for a while, but even more so I think now,” Lintner said during a phone interview Tuesday, March 31. “Because there’s a feeling of hope and happiness when you see color, how can you not like that?”
Lintner works at Timberlake Hotel and Timbers restaurant in Staples and is currently laid off. The mixed media artist and a plethora of other artists of all stripes find themselves with more time on their hands this spring amid statewide closures of many businesses and a stay at home order issued by Gov. Tim Walz — efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and the disease COVID-19 it causes.
“Before all this happened, I was going to work, I would come home and if I had time I would do whatever art, because that’s life,” Lintner said. “But now I feel like I just I have to really express my feelings a lot more and that creativity is always there. I try to do something each and every day. Now, wow, I have all this time. So I really am trying to make good use of it.”
For some, it’s a chance to do more of what they’ve always done or to try a new medium. For others, it’s a creative awakening, fostered by a sudden and unexpected clearing of the schedule.
Lisa Jordan, executive director of The Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd, said she feels similarly drawn to vibrant shades. Usually more focused on fiber arts, Jordan said painting and monoprinting have been calling to her while spending more time at home. She said while things like felting take longer for the artistic payoff, putting brush to canvas has an immediate impact.
“It’s kind of funny, but I don't get to create a lot of art unless it’s for a project that we’re doing (at The Crossing Arts Alliance),” Jordan said by phone Tuesday. “When you’re an artist, and you don't get to create for a while, something dies. Your muse goes away, you get a little like, ‘Meh.’ Right now, it feels incredibly urgent to me that I need to create. Like this is no longer optional, this is something I need to do for my soul.”
Jordan said while some artists may be directly inspired by the state of global affairs and the pandemic itself, her art tends toward meeting her own emotional needs in the tumultuous times.
“For lots of us, it doesn't matter what the end product is, if it's good or bad or whatever, we need the process. And I’m very much one of those. I need to make art and it doesn't really matter what I make,” Jordan said. “... For me, art is very much a healing tool, and so I’m looking for color therapy.”
The Dispatch asked lakes area artists to share what they’ve been working on during this time, where they’ve found inspiration and how the global pandemic has or has not impacted the kind of work they’re doing. The gallery below showcases the submitted artwork from community members.
Pillager artist Klistie Shingledecker, now working from home, said she’s trying out new techniques while working on her art, which includes pouring paint and epoxy as well as making tumblers.
“I am inspired by nature: water, trees, northern lights,” Shingledecker said. “My tumblers are fun and lighthearted. I try to keep my art lighthearted and make beautiful things to distract from world events. It helps me and hopefully others see the beauty around them to notice the colors and textures of life without politics or negativity.”
Chad Hoefs of rural Pequot Lakes, also at home for the time being, said he’s not taking inspiration directly from world events, but is using his extra time to create more art. Working with polymer clay, oil paint and acrylic paint, Hoefs is sculpting refrigerator magnets and whipping out paintings here or there as a “quick fix for the paintbrush jones.”
His inspiration? “Whatever strikes my fancy at the moment, but many times looking at other people's art gives me an itch to create as well,” he said.
Steven Weagel — a Pequot Lakes man who focuses on blown art glass, forged and welded steel, and fabricated lighted sculptures — said as a full-time artist, the pandemic hasn’t changed his daily routine much.
“Most of my inspiration comes from working every day and developing ideas I see happen in each piece. Nature plays a big part of what these ideas originate from. My forms are mostly organic in nature and have evolved through many hours of work,” Weagel said. “I do my best to ignore the craziness happening now. I only have today to develop my ideas in forged steel and blown glass!”
Amanda Schwarzkopf of rural Brainerd said the past year has seen her delving back into her artistic side as she creates acrylic paintings and works in mixed media. Working from home alongside her daughter, home early from college, Schwarzkopf said the two have spent time painting together.
“I've always used the process of creating as a way to process things I was seeing in my professional life, personal life and in the world. In my art, I take a word or phrase that relates to the experience I want to work through and focus on that while I am creating and see how both my internal reactions and the piece change as I work,” Schwarzkopf said. “... With the current COVID-19 crisis and the way that is affecting almost every aspect of life and causing so much worry and pain for so many, it can't help but be reflected for me in my art.”
Schwarzkopf said The Crossing Arts Alliance has helped introduce her to new techniques, noting despite its temporary closure, the organization continues to inspire people in these times.
“Even though their doors are shut for now, that doesn't mean that art is not essential.”
After this, then what?
No matter the motivation — color, escapism, urgency, normalcy or something else — tapping into one’s creative side is how many people are coping right now.
“This will pass. But I feel like it's very important for artists to be able to not stop,” Lintner said. “I think right now more than any other time is a great time to be creative. And sometimes you might be kind of surprised at what you do when you’re home all of a sudden all these hours in the day.”
At some point, the directives under which the world is living to maintain social distance and prevent the spread of COVID-19 will no longer be necessary. For those who discovered a newfound passion in art or rekindled an old one, Lintner said the Brainerd Area Art Guild has been growing and its members would love to welcome more to the fray. Members range from those in their late teens to over 80 and they typically meet monthly.
For more information on becoming a member, contact Lintner at email@example.com or 218-296-1384.