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Area Voices: Workshop and exhibit in Brainerd for Laporte artist

A woman wearing sunglasses standing in front of some water and trees.
Darcy Brambrink
Laporte watercolor artist Darcy Brambrink.

Darcy Brambrink joins “Area Voices” to discuss her exhibit and workshop at Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd. Brambrink encourages others to pay attention to their surroundings.

LAPORTE — Laporte artist Darcy Brambrink has found art to be more than just a way to express herself.

“As an artist, my soul takes flight, transcends the confines of the tangible world,” she said.

It turns out art is in the family. Brambrink’s father was also an artist. He didn’t sell his art but used his free time from construction work to make his creations. When Brambrink was young, her father would go to the grocery store on payday and buy coloring books for his children.

A watercolor painting of waves crashing on an overcast day.
Darcy Brambrink
Darcy Brambink's piece "Gales of November."

He encouraged Brambrink to color outside the lines.

“He would say, ‘That apple wasn't all red. There has to be another color in that apple. What else do you see in that apple?’" she said.

Her father taught her to think differently, suggesting shading or spots in the coloring book apple.

This encouragement to look at the world closely impacted Brambrink.

“It kind of opens you up to pay attention to what's around you in nature, and not everything is what you see," she said. "So, when I do my art, I kind of twist that a little bit and try to pop another color in there that a lot of people wouldn't see.”

Finding her style

Brambrink paints with watercolor and oils. She was first interested in watercolors when she was 15 but took a break for a long while to focus on drawing, acrylics and oils. In 2017, before she moved to Laporte from St. Cloud, she decided to get back into it.

“I thought, I'm going to the perfect area to do watercolor because there's so many variations in the trees and the parks and things up here that landscapes just kind of drew me,” she said.

Brambrink is inspired to paint nature by the light and shadows and how much can change — not only in the seasons but even at different points of the day. She also enjoys the challenge of watercolor.

“You have to build everything up in layers, or you have to move fast sometimes with it,” Brambrink said. “I never know what's going to happen when I put that color down to that water.”

An empty row boat on a calm body of water.
Darcy Brambrink
Darcy Brambrink's piece "Solitude Boat."

Brambrink paints almost every single day. Sometimes she finds inspiration from something she may have noticed while driving, but most of her work is by imagination. She’s been given photographs to paint, but even then, she puts her own stamp on it.

She realized how important art was to her after she had retired. She found it to be calming.

“It takes all my cares and my woes away — clears my mind," she said. "It's just a normal part of my day.”

Workshops and exhibits

Brambrink started teaching workshops about three years ago. She started after networking with other artists in the area and joining different art clubs and leagues.

She has a watercolor workshop at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, March 17 at the Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd. Students will learn the watercolor technique of line and wash using a credit card with salt applications. She will also show students how to make a stem, flower or anything else they want. Some techniques don’t even need a brush.

Brambrink also has an exhibit at the Crossing Arts Alliance that will be open until April 9. It features her oil work instead of watercolors, which was a surprise because she thinks of herself as a watercolor artist.

The Brainerd event includes an artist's reception at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 15. She’s looking forward to talking about her art with other people and is happy to answer questions about technique and inspiration.

When asked if she feels any sense of vulnerability putting her work in an exhibit, she said she isn’t concerned.

“I welcome critique,” Brambrink said. “Everybody sees something different in somebody else's art. There're certain things you like and certain things you don't like.”

Brambrink has found Northern Minnesota to be very open and kind to art.

“People are friendly, they're helpful, they're informative and if you're an artist ... nothing can beat northern Minnesota,” she said.

Brambrink’s artwork can be found on her Etsy and her website.

Tell us about upcoming arts events where you live in Northern Minnesota by emailing

Area Voices is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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