Over the past month, every Friday I have featured the artists and photographers who will be displaying their art at the Carnegie during Ox Cart Days (Aug. 17, 18, and 19).

    Over the past month, every Friday I have featured the artists and photographers who will be displaying their art at the Carnegie during Ox Cart Days (Aug. 17, 18, and 19).  Some of these talented people will return after presenting last year. However, we also have new faces and young art talent to share by promoting Crookston Central high school artists too.  The three artists I’m featuring today, I was struck by their answers with how they felt they needed to be spontaneous with their art.  Perhaps being extemporaneous gives freedom to be creative. After viewing the scans of these artists, we will let others indulge in these artists’ inspired gifts on canvas.

    Many people are familiar with the works done by Crookston resident, Irene Bertils. She has received numerous awards from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council (NWMAC) for her work in painting and drawing. Irene was raised on a farm north of Moorhead. That might explain her heavy emphasis on nature but she also features people in her works of art.

    According to Irene’s own words about how her art started for her, she wrote, “I think that I am "wired" to paint.  I mean that it's just part of who I am.  I am unable to express myself through words well, so I guess God gave me art to do so.  Art is my way to put down on paper my feelings as well as my understanding of the world around me.  I continue to do art because it seems to be my way to re-energize myself and connect with my Maker.”

    Similar to what three of last week’s high school artists mentioned about their art teacher, Gary Stegman, Irene also explained that her high school art teacher inspired her the most.  She continued about her teacher who was “continually pushing the creative limits and exposing us students to many art forms as well as different mediums.”

    When I asked Irene what errors she may have made early on in her art career, she admitted, “I believe my biggest mistake I have made has been getting too caught up in the technical correctness of my subjects. That overtakes the pure joy and expressiveness that art should be.”

    I asked Irene about when are the toughest times for her as she does her art. She revealed, “The times that I don't feel creative enough to continue on a piece that has a deadline...those are tough times.  When possible I take a physically active break before trying to resume, trying to get my head back into how I first felt about the project in its beginnings.”

    Irene continued, “Any form of art rejuvenates my inner self.  I can be so tired and down that all I really want to do is go to bed, but when I get a pencil or paintbrush in my hands and I am transformed.  It is my way to escape to a happier and brighter place. Because of my life situation I need to be spontaneous as possible, seizing any opportunity to be able to create.”

    She also wrote that art has always been a constant in her life.  She explained, “I can’t remember a time that I haven’t been drawing or painting. I enjoy painting or drawing from the endless supply of subjects that God provides us with daily.” Irene’s work with art includes teaching art to homeschooled children; creating private and public murals and other commissioned pieces; and illustrating for a national woodcarving magazine.

    Crookston Central high school art student, Brita Fagerland, wrote the following about her artwork: “My favorite part about doing the art that I do is creating a piece that exemplifies what I see as beauty or importance in the world and has special meaning to me. I have the opportunity to push myself with new techniques and overall be proud of my finished creation.”

    Brita continued, “My community, my family, and my friends have all been increasingly supportive of my artistic endeavors all beginning when I joined 4-H as a child. Overall, I believe I push myself to always be better on my talents.”     

    “Art is important for me in that while having perfection is always the goal it has propelled me to be accepting of my work and proud rather than critical. Also, art has opened my eyes to seeing the world differently and finding beauty in unorthodox places.”

     My favorite place would probably be everywhere - in the way that my best ideas and creativity come to me with spontaneity feather than in a forced setting. My favorite medium of art is oil and has been in my skills for about 5 years. I like to say I have always been a creative person especially starting with lessons from my Grandmother at a young age.

     Finally, Brandilyn Januszewski, another Crookston high school student, wrote that her favorite part about creating art is that you can make whatever your imagination desires; it’s a relaxing hobby and very stress relieving for her.  She believes what really inspires her in art is her love of nature and animals. She added, “I am also inspired by other artists that I've seen in various art exhibits and on social media.”

     Brandi went on to say, “Art is important to me because it's a great way to express myself and I find it very relieving. For the people that view my artwork, I hope to create the same feeling of inspiration that I get when admiring other artists work.”

     When I asked Brandi where she does her art, she commented, “I don't have a favorite place to create artwork because I do it wherever I am. If I have an idea, I will sketch it out or write it down so I don't forget about it. Another great thing is being able to take pictures of what inspires me, especially if I am traveling. Then when I get back home I can get out my materials and start working on the real piece.”

     Brandi’s last comments were revealing about how important art has been for her, “I have been creating art my whole life. I absolutely loved drawing and painting even as a small child, and have grown a passion for it over the years. I believe art has had such a heavy impact on my life and I wouldn't be the same person I am today without it.”

     Come to the Carnegie the three days we are open during Ox Cart Days, August 17, 18 and 19th. During the hours we are open, you may get a chance to meet some of the artists themselves. Next week, I will focus on the theme of Ox Cart Days with writing about the early firefighters and what buildings were saved from fires in Crookston. The countdown to our fun filled times at the Carnegie starts now.