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Osage artist shares talent with local kids

Kiana Bjorkstrand, 10, puts finishing touches on her work.1 / 4
Harmony Trygstad, 10, works on her individual abstract art at Tuesday's free workshop.2 / 4
With Osage artist Boyd Sharp as a tutor, local youth swished, dabbed and splashed paint, creating abstract art on a 30-by-40-inch canvas. The free workshop was held June 20 at the Park Rapids Area Library. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)3 / 4
"I like to fingerpaint," said Taliea Honga, 9. She attends Menahga School.4 / 4

Earlier this spring, Park Rapids Library Assistant Leann Willenbring asked for community members to share their expertise.

Osage artist Boyd Sharp answered her call.

On Tuesday, the nationally recognized painter taught kids how to design an abstract painting. More than a dozen youth attended the free workshop.

"I think abstract art is more difficult to teach than representational art, so I'm happy he wants to lead this workshop as it is a great fit for our Reading By Design theme," Willenbring said.

This summer, the library's reading program and related events are focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).

Sharp generously provided all the materials — paints, pigments, canvases, brushes and even a pine bough — for the afternoon class.

"This is an experiment for me," Sharp said.

It was the first time he's led a kids art workshop — excluding the numerous art lessons he's given his own seven children and 16 grandchildren, of course.

"They used to sit around and paint and draw. Made a few in-laws mad because they got paint on their clothes," Sharp recalled.

Abstract art appeals to Sharp largely because the viewer participates in the creation.

"They see things in it," he said. "You never know what they'll like."

While visiting the Walker Art Gallery, Sharp observed two men discussing abstract paintings.

"They were trying to figure out what kind of mood the painter was in when he painted it. I thought, 'That's silly.' But it's not. I mean, I can be in a bright mood. I can be in a dull mood and that's how the paintings come out, so it's how you feel."

Abstract paintings "evolve as you go," he said. "You can add this color. You can add that color. You can get mad and wash it all off and start all over again."

Sometimes "happy accidents" yield beautiful art. Sharp recalled one time a breeze caught his canvas and blew it off the easel. The resulting smudges were just what the abstract piece needed, he said.

Sharp is a self-guided artist, learning through experimentation and intense study. He began with contemporary art before moving into landscapes, floral, Southwest, and then portraits.

"When you do a regular portrait, there's sometimes 200 different combinations of color from one side of the face to the other. On one side, you want to do kind of coarse, but you want the sun to flash off it. The eyes have many, many colors, especially blue eyes. They're fun to paint."

Sharp's focus has returned to contemporary art for interior design.

"How do you know when a painting is done?" asked Willenbring.

"Well, it turns to mud," Sharp replied.

After learning a few basic techniques and creating a group painting, Sharp let the young novices go to work on their own pieces.

"This is where your imagination comes in," he told them. "It never ceases to amaze me what kids come up with."

Willenbring described the workshop as "very freeing" and proving that budding artists may use any material handy to create masterpieces.