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Creating Art Together: Building friendships through art

Joan Salter works on her painted shirt design Wednesday during a weekly meeting of the Creating Art Together group which meets at Peace Lutheran Church in New London. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)1 / 4
Karen Reede of Paynesville shares one of her recent watercolor paintings. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)2 / 4
Ramona Frank of Paynesville works on a watercolor painting. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)3 / 4
Mary Anderson of Willmar works on her painted shirt design.4 / 4

laying with paint, women let their creativity flow from their minds to their shirts at Peace Lutheran Church in New London.

The local art group Creating Art Together traded its typical water color paints for acrylics to paint shirts for a day.

Joan Salter of Pennock organized the special project instructing everyone to bring shirts to paint. She brought acrylic paints, textile medium, patterns and tips to share with the group.

"I learned it when I was in Arizona, so I thought I'd bring the paints and let them play," Salter said. "Everybody is doing their own thing, which is just fun."

The group formed in 2001 when four women with a love for art started painting together. They met at a different house every week for "watercolor Wednesdays." As word about the group spread, more women joined the group to paint.

The name was changed to Creating Art Together, so acrylic and oil painters wouldn't be excluded, said Patricia Nelson of Spicer.

Now, about 20 women meet at the church at 9 a.m. every Wednesday to paint and laugh together. It was a common interest of painting that brought these women together, but Creating Art Together is much more than an art group. The women have formed friendships, supporting each other in their art.

"This is the best class in the world. I just love it," said Caryl Haug of Willmar. Haug has been a member of the group for two and a half years and enjoys learning from the other women in the group.

"If somebody doesn't have the answer, somebody else does," she said.

Haug brought two painted shirts from Arizona, which she planned to touch up by intensifying the colors.

"It was getting uglier each time I washed it, so I'm not at a loss," she said with a laugh.

Haug introduced her cousin Bonnie Nelson of Montana to the group early this summer. Nelson quickly fell in love with the group.

"It wasn't just the art, it was the people," she said.

Nelson said she enjoys painting abstract pieces and drawing inspiration from books and magazines.

"You never know what's going to end up on the page," she said.

She used an advertisement with a majestic neon green butterfly as inspiration for her shirt.

Others transferred images of giraffes, flowers and other objects from pages to their shirts with an iron.

"It's just color book painting," Salter said encouraging Mary Anderson of Willmar, who was anxious to start painting her flower pattern.

As the women began painting, they took time to wander through the room stopping at each table to admire each other's work.

"I think your design is limited by your talent," Karen Kosmas of Spicer said with a laugh. She painted free-hand drawing inspiration from circular patterns in the room.

"I just love to play with paint," she said.

Anyone is welcome to join Creating Art Together to paint at 9 a.m. Wednesdays at Peace Lutheran Church in New London.