Dear Readers:  It’s late springtime in Wisconsin and Mother Nature is definitely on the move. The trees are green, migratory birds have returned and all of nature appears to be welcoming new life. So this seems an appropriate time to meet an area artist who has a deep appreciation for nature and whose work is strongly influenced by the natural world.

Andrea Korpinen is a native of West Bend, Wisconsin, but has lived in Rusk County for nearly twenty years. She has been involved in art since she was very young, and attributes her interest in artistic things to her paternal grandmother, who taught Andrea to paint with oils, and to her father, who would entertain her by creating sand sculptures, carving elaborate pumpkins, and drawing caricatures of people they knew.

Although she took some art courses while attending the University of Wisconsin — Green Bay, Andrea didn’t become interested in what is now her main artistic medium — watercolor — until 2006. She enjoys it, she says, because of its “unpredictable nature.” It’s challenging to paint with watercolors, Andrea explains, because you can’t quite predict the effect you’ll get when the paint dries.

Andrea often uses watercolor to depict one of her favorite artistic subjects, birds, and has recently illustrated a children’s book called The Hungriest Chickadee. She also does watercolor portraits by commission, and has done several of her daughter, who appears in the Chickadee book.

Gardening is another major interest of Andrea’s, and has led her to an additional means of creative expression — gourding. She explains she began working with gourds about ten years ago, after planting some in her garden, then brainstorming about what to do with them. Eventually she tried a technique called pyrography, which involves burning designs onto dried gourds. Then she found she could “carve” gourds using a burner, and combined both techniques in a form called pyrocarving. The final steps for each carved gourd are first to be painted with a light wash of color and then coated with a satin polyurethane.

When asked about other art projects she may have in the works, Andrea says she has written a children’s book about bears and their activities, and plans to start on the illustrations for it as soon as she has time. But, she explains, as the working mother of a four year old daughter and two year old son, finding time for her artistic projects can be very challenging.

A member of the Rusk Area Arts Alliance and the Wisconsin Gourd Society, Andrea says she enjoys “making our community brighter by bringing art into it” and particularly likes working with civic art projects that include children. In her rare spare time she helps out with children’s events at Toad House in Ladysmith, and involves her own children with creative activities at every opportunity.

Andrea’s book, The Hungriest Chickadee, and some of her decorative gourds are available at the Rusk Area Arts Alliance Gift Gallery, 711 Lake Ave. W. in Ladysmith as well as through her website: andreakorpinen.wix.com/andrea-korpinen. She will also be showing and selling her works inside the display train at the Rusk County Visitors’ Center/Railroad Museum, 205 W. 9th St., on June 24-25 as part of the annual Art Along the Flambeau festival.  

Anyone wanting to contact Andrea for commissioned work can reach her either at her website, her e-mail at andreakorpinen@yahoo.com or by phone at 715-403-0138.

by Pegeen Snoeyenbos
(revised May 19, 2016)