By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, DELANO, MN A year ago, Emily Lynch of Delano was a math teacher at Holy Trinity High School in Winsted, a volleyball coach, and an employee at Delano’s Three Crows Café and Coffee House, but something was missing.
“I love, love teaching math, but there’s something more creative inside of me that I couldn’t do with that,” Lynch said.
She had been following the Central Minnesota Arts Board (CMAB), and stumbled upon a one-year, $3,000 mentorship grant.
“I thought, this would be the exact thing I would need,” Lynch said. She clicked on a mentor’s name that sounded neat Dodie Logue and was immediately attracted to her paintings.
“I figured she was up in Duluth or something, but it turns out she’s a mile away, on my parents’ gravel road,” Lynch said. “It almost seemed too good to be true.”
So, Lynch applied for the grant, and was one of four artists chosen in the entire region, which includes Wright, Benton, Sherburne, and Stearns counties.
“It was a definite confidence booster,” Lynch said.
She used the grant money to purchase professional-quality oil paints, canvases, and other materials, and to pay Logue for her bi-weekly mentorship services.
Logue’s advice has been immensely helpful so far, according to Lynch.
“She won’t tell me how to do it, but she gives me tips and ideas,” Lynch said. “It’s exactly what I need to stay motivated.”
Logue, who lives on a farm with her husband and two cats, paints outside whenever possible. Lynch typically paints from photographs that she’s taken, but Logue has prompted her to try the outdoors, as well.
“It’s totally different,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot less control, and the light changes, so you have to paint at the same time every day.”
Life as an artist
Lynch usually spends about three-to-four hours a day painting, in addition to framing, matting, getting reproductions, and working at Three Crows.
No matter what she’s doing, however, painting is never far from her mind.
“I always have a camera in my car,” she said, explaining that inspiration can come at unexpected moments.
This summer, for instance, she was driving through New Germany and caught a glimpse of a few brightly colored pickup trucks in front of a white building.
“I just pulled the car in reverse and started snapping pictures,” she said. “Certain things pull my attention.”
Lynch’s vibrant oil paintings depict common, everyday scenes from rural life in a warm, nostalgic style.
“If someone were to look at my paintings, I would hope they could take out a memory of their own, kind of ‘look past’ the painting,” she said.
People have been requesting custom orders of their own farms and camping scenes, and Lynch is more than happy to oblige.
“It’s in a really fun stage,” she said. “I’m just really honored people would ask me.”
Lynch’s paintings are usually true to form, making the scene recognizable to people who’ve been there. Color is where she really gets creative, though with bright reds, intense blues, and rich yellows.
“If I see a hint of color, I go after it,” she said. “I think you get the best colors with oils.”
Math and art
Growing up, Lynch enjoyed sketching, but it wasn’t until her junior year at Luther College in Iowa that she tried her first real drawing class.
“I was getting my undergrad in math, and had room for an elective course,” she said. Her professor couldn’t help but notice her talent, and gave her the encouragement to take two oil painting classes, as well.
After graduation, Lynch became a math teacher and volleyball coach at Holy Trinity High School in Winsted.
“I love the problem-solving aspect of math,” she said, explaining that math isn’t as different from art as some people think.
“There is a certain balance in both,” she said. “It’s a direct process thin to thick, dark to light yet, there’s this freedom.”
This spring, Lynch plans to take classes at the University of Minnesota to work toward a master’s degree in fine arts. Her ultimate goal is to either be a local artist in the Delano/Watertown area, or to teach art at a university.
Lynch’s current studio is a renovated shed on her parents’ farm near Delano.
“It’s really nice, because I don’t have to clean up in between,” she said, explaining that she typically works on about five paintings at a time.
Lynch’s work will be featured at Three Crows in January, and anyone who would like to purchase a painting can contact her through her blog, www.Lynch-lynch-artwork.blogspot.com.
The other three CMAB mentorship grant winners are St. Cloud jewelry artist Lisa Ann Ambrosch, Elk River literary artist Britt Aamodt, and St. Cloud cello musician Tina Lamberts.
To learn more about the CMAB, go to www.centralmnartsboard.org.