A portrait of the artists as very young womenIt’s not clear when a muse officially took up residence at the Walsberg home in Two Harbors, but according to Jenny Walsberg, her daughters Kate and Ruby have been drawing and painting since they were toddlers sitting at the kitchen table.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
It’s not clear when a muse officially took up residence at the Walsberg home in Two Harbors, but according to Jenny Walsberg, her daughters Kate and Ruby have been drawing and painting since they were toddlers sitting at the kitchen table.
Now, both girls’ work is on exhibit at the Vanilla Bean through the end of December and ongoing at Buddy’s Mercantile, a shop owned by the Walsbergs on Seventh Ave. Ruby’s paintings are also featured at the Scenic Cafe, where she has sold quite a few, said her dad, Roger.
This wouldn’t seem uncommon; the North Shore, after all, boasts many talented artists. But Ruby is just 14 and Kate is 10.
“Ruby sees the world through her own eyes; her art is both interesting and colorful. She loves animals, nature and spending time with friends,” reads a description of her work from the Vanilla Bean for the girls’ exhibit.
Ask her and she won’t hesitate to tell her real motivation.
“I think it’s really awesome,” Ruby said of the attention given her work, “but I just do it for fun. It makes me happy and it gets my mind off stuff.”
In addition to watercolors, she has used acrylic and oil paint, pastel and crayon. But she said her favorite is pencil drawing.
“I can sketch anywhere — in school, in my notebooks,” she said.
Kate, who is in fifth grade, has other favorites.
“I like to use markers and crayons,” she said, as well as “sewing stuff on the sewing machine, hand sewing and I like to read sometimes.” He favorite subjects are animals.
The girls are mostly self-taught, said Jenny Walsberg, but they have taken lessons with Arlee Wilkes, a member of the Voyageurs Art Group and the Lake Superior Water Color Society who studied with painter Joyce Gow and others. She estimates that she has been teaching children for at least 30 years and sees her role as passing something of herself along to others.
“I don’t claim to be a professor, but sometimes if you have a talent, you share it,” Wilkes said. “I feel like when you’re a teacher, you don’t know how many generations your teaching will go.”
While arts are frequently on the chopping block in various school districts, Wilkes says they’re alive and well in the Walsberg home.
“They have a table in the kitchen and instead of eating there, she said, it’s usually an art table,” she noted.
With art a way of life for the girls and their parents, recognizing Kate and Ruby’s work as out of the ordinary has required some adjustment for dad.
“We’ve been used to seeing (their paintings) all their lives, so I didn’t have any perspective. We’ve had some pictures here and hung them up and someone would come in and say, ‘that’s really good,’ so I’ll take their word,” Roger said.
As far as plans for the future, Kate said she has a favorite book she wants to read.
“Magic Kittens,” she said.
Ruby has thought a little farther ahead.
“I think I’m going to go to college for something else and do art in my free time to make a little extra money.”
Ruby and Kate Walsberg’s paintings will be on exhibit at the Vanilla Bean through Dec. 31. Both girls have cards for sale at Buddy’s Mercantile, and Ruby has prints available at Buddy’s, too. According to Roger Walsberg, the Scenic Café plans to continue using Ruby’s paintings as the art on their menus.