Children create ‘grape abstract’ watercolor masterpieces

by Cori Hilsgen

More than 10 young artists, ages 6 and up, recently gathered on a Saturday morning at the St. Stephen City Hall to create a “grape abstract” masterpiece.

Natural sunlight filtered into the windows as the artists painted, dried and waited to see their final creations. Papers were wetted down, leaves were placed on the paper and primary colors were mixed to create colors such as purple; gold paint was sprayed on each painting; blow dryers were used to help dry the projects; and “Magic Eraser” sponges were used to create grapes. Excited chatter and movement of bodies increased as the class progressed.

St. Joseph resident Olivia Spychala, 7, said she signed up for the class because her grandmother, Carol Spychala, was one of the instructors. Spychala is the daughter of Stephanie and Gary Spychala and attends Oak Ridge Elementary School in Sartell.

“Art is my favorite class in school,” Olivia said “I took the class because I wanted to have fun painting.”

Sartell resident Emily Crandall, 9, was surprised they used the hair dryers in the painting class. Crandall is the daughter of Sarah and Aaron Crandall and attends Pine Meadow Elementary School in Sartell.

“I really like art, so I decided to do it,” Crandall said. “I did not know we would use blow dryers to dry our leaves.”

Holdingford resident Breanne Skroch, 10, attended the class because Carol Spychala is her aunt. Skroch is the daughter of Janet and Dale Skroch and attends Holdingford Elementary School.  She was surprised the class was more fun than she thought it would be.

“I love to do art,” Skroch said. “It’s my favorite class in school.”

Rice resident Lily Schmitz, 6, said she was enjoying the class. Schmitz is the daughter of Nancy and Randy Schmitz and attends All Saints Academy in St. Joseph.

“I like painting and I’m having fun,” Schmitz said.

Maple Lake resident Paige Paggen, 9, was surprised with the use of leaves and gold paint for the class.

Paggen is the daughter of Jenny Smith and Dan Paggen and attends school in Maple Lake.

“I love it,” Paggen said. “I think it’s a good idea. I was surprised with the leaves and gold. I thought we were going to make grapes or something. I didn’t know (about) the leaves.”

When the paintings were dried, leaves were removed and Spychala had shown the students how to make the grapes with the Magic Erasers, many students were surprised how the colors had blended. They  “oohed” and “awed” as Spychala demonstrated how to make the grapes.

Students paid $30 to attend the three-hour class. When the class was finished, each student received an 8″ x 10″ matted and framed painting, two greeting cards and a book marker.

The class was taught by Spychala and Carole Euerle. The two long-time friends are self-taught and  have been painting for at least eight years. They have taken several workshops together and belong to Central Minnesota Watercolorists.

Spychala is a St. Joseph resident and is married to Chuck. Euerle is a Richmond resident and is married to Merle. The two women have also taught a class in Cold Spring at the district office and have a gallery set up there.

Spychala said she paints with her grandchildren and thought she would like to see other children do this also.

“It’s so fun to watch them get excited when the water hits the paint,” Spychala said.

Eurele said she enjoys watching the excitement on the children’s faces.

“I get the most out of their excitement and bringing out their creativity,” Euerle said. “When they take the leaves off all the magic begins.”

“Watching their self-confidence build is really amazing,” Spychala said. “They come in so unsure and leave so proud. It’s just so fun to watch.”

Spychala and Euerle also offer classes for adults called “Uncorked Artists.” Classes cost $40 and they provide the place, paint supplies, wine and hors d’oeuvres.  The host or hostess provides the eight or more friends for the class.

Uncorked Artists will leave the class with a 16″ x 20″ semi-abstract watercolor they will be able to frame. Spychala and Euerle believe everyone is an artist and will go home with a masterpiece. The two women also offer painting parties for birthdays, bridal showers, retirement parties and any other party with friends.

For more information, contact Spychala at (320) 252-4672 or Euerle at (320) 597-3260.

photo by Cori Hilsgen
Lily Schmitz (left) and Paige Paggen, carry their paintings before removing their leaves and adding grapes. Both artists recently attended a Saturday morning painting class at the St. Stephen City Hall.

photo by Cori Hilsgen
Instructors Carol Spychala (left) and Carole Euerle (far back) help Emily Crandall (front) dry her painting during a young artist class at St. Stephen.


photo by Cori Hilsgen
Breanne Skroch (left) and Olivia Spychala wait to remove their leaves from their paintings.


photo by Cori Hilsgen
Young artists gather around instructors Carol Spychala and Carole Euerle as Spychala demonstrates how to make grapes by using a “Magic Eraser” sponge.


photo by Cori Hilsgen
Instructor Carol Spychala demonstrates how to make grapes with a “Magic Eraser” sponge.


photo by Cori Hilsgen
Instructor Carol Spychala (right) helps Sartell resident Emily Crandall (left) remove her leaves from her painting.


photo by Cori Hilsgen
Instructor Carol Spychala (right) helps Sartell resident Emily Crandall (left) remove her leaves from her painting.

Cori Hilsgen

Cori Hilsgen

Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.
Cori Hilsgen
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