HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Jan. 16, 2006

'Painting Ladies' find fun together

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

“The Painting Ladies” of Dassel are a group of women who get together every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. for fun, fellowship and of course, painting.

They usually meet at Betty Engelbrekt’s house, north of Dassel. She has a big basement containing four large tables and a card table. The group uses it as its studio. Engelbrekt is in Texas for the winter, so the group has been taking turns meeting at each other’s houses.

The Painting Ladies are Lois Nordstrom, Yvonne Morehouse, Wyaneta Timm, Norma Asplin, Beverly Danielson, Cleo Johnson and Engelbrekt.

Johnson, who also is spending the winter in Texas, and Engelbrekt started the group in the spring of 2003. Timm, a former teacher from Blythe, Calif., heard about the group from Julie Schuman while Schuman was hanging draperies, she said.

Timm was thrilled when Engelbrekt asked her to join the painting ladies, she said. Timm hadn’t painted for a while and was worried she would lose her touch.

“I wanted to get back into the swing of things,” Timm said.

Danielson agreed. She enjoys painting nature and has noticed if she paints regularly, she appreciates beauty more, Danielson said.

Even more important to Timm, though, was meeting people and making friends in Dassel, she said. The people in Blythe seemed “clique-ish,” to her. In Dassel, though, she ended up with “such nice friends,” Timm said.

Danielson is probably the most experienced painter in the group. She gave the group tips on how to use pictures from books, Christmas cards and calendars to get started, Timm said.

“Each person has her own little techniques,” Danielson said, recalling some of their early projects when the group first formed.

In the beginning, the painting ladies all worked on the same projects with the same medium.

One of their first projects was a geranium in a pot resting on a doily. They painted with acrylics on Masonite board and used a real doily as a stencil, said Nordstrom, who lived in the Willmar area before moving to Dassel.

Their all-time favorite project was a barn they painted the first year of their group.

“Every barn is so good. They’re all just a little different,” Danielson said.

Nordstrom remembers learning to paint trees with the barn picture. Danielson had told them to “leave openings in the trees so the birds wouldn’t break their necks,” trying to land on the branches, she said.

Eventually the group reached the point where they intended to paint pictures of horses. Asplin didn’t want to do such a difficult subject, she joked, so the members started to branch out into different media and different types of paintings.

Most of the women paint with water-based oil, instead of oil paints, in consideration of Johnson’s asthma. Asplin and Engelbrekt often use watercolor. Nordstrom said manufacturers have recently created a canvas that makes watercolor painting much easier.

Johnson even has painted on tile. “She comes up with surprises,” Danielson said.

The group members support each other when their painting projects become difficult.

Danielson said she did a painting of some hens and chicks following a rooster across a log. She had a tough time making the chicks look lifelike, she said.

Timm pointed out that with the water-based oil they use, they can correct their work over and over without it spoiling their paintings. “You can keep going on it,” she said.

“You never feel it’s finished,” Asplin agreed.

Nordstrom also worked on an unusually challenging painting of loons on a lake. On the lake shore, she had painted a grove of trees with all the tree trunks running parallel to each other. Other people, those not in the group, advised her to make some of the trees tipped or fallen on the shore, so the scene would look more realistic, she said.

The painting ladies, however, were encouraging. The result doesn’t have to be fabulous, Asplin said. Painters don’t have to feel inhibited about using tracing paper, for example, when laying out the initial design, she said.

“Each stroke you can enjoy. It isn’t so serious. It’s only paper. You can throw it in the wastebasket on the way out,” Asplin said.

The painting ladies also do other activities together besides painting. They take trips to St. Cloud, visit craft stores and enjoy coffee and goodies at their painting sessions.

The group is so active, that Morehouse, who manages an apartment building, often talked about the Painting Ladies to her friends and associates. People started to get the impression that the Painting Ladies painted walls, Morehouse said. She had to explain to them that the painting ladies painted works of art, she said.

Before Morehouse retired, about three weeks ago, she had trouble setting aside time for herself and regular painting sessions. She learned from the group how to organize time for it, she said.

“Everything is more fun as you get older,” Morehouse said.

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