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Local artist's water color chosen to be on Courage Cards for holidays (11/07/2012)
By Emily Buss

Photo by Emily Buss
     Yarrow Brown touches up a watercolor painting of firey orange Prairie Lilies. Brown, a self-taught watercolorist, submitted her painting titled Whitewater Light, renamed Quiet Light, to be on the cover of the Courage Center's holiday Courage Card.

It is hard to escape the fact that winter is almost here, and with winter comes the much anticipated holiday season and Christmas cards. Last year, the Greeting Card Association recorded more than two billion holiday cards had been sent in the United States alone. Some were from the collection of Courage Cards.

Courage Cards were created as a way to thank individuals and businesses that made contributions to the Minneapolis-based Courage Center. The cards feature the artwork of hundreds of talented artists from around the world. This year, Winona artist Yarrow Brown is one of them.

“I am thrilled and honored,” Brown said of her opportunity to be part of this year’s card collection. “Hopefully my work will compel others to support Courage Cards and the work they do.”

The Courage Center, a nonprofit rehabilitation and resource center, first opened its doors in 1928, and provides support to children and adults experiencing difficulties with health and independence. With the help of the yearly Courage Cards sales, more than $6 million has been raised to continue the efforts of the Courage Center.

Quiet Light on Whitewater River

Brown, who is a self-taught watercolor artist, has been seriously painting since 2000. She learned the art of watercolor by reading about techniques in various books, and through trial and error.

“I have stacks and stacks of ugly paintings and terrible mistakes that I sometimes use to try out new techniques. Or I recycle them into other projects,” Brown said. “I see the detail of paintings but somehow the paint likes to make its own statement. I really love the way the pigment interacts with the water to give me effects that I couldn’t have planned. It seems I am detail oriented, but the paint is not.”

Brown's serene watercolor for the Courage Cards campaign is called Quiet Light, and came about from a tour of the five rivers in Southeast Minnesota in 2003.

“I received a grant to paint the Mississippi River, Cannon River, Zumbro River, Whitewater River, and the Root River in all four seasons,” she explained. “During that time, I traveled through those areas and took photos in different places on each river. It was so inspiring to me.”

Just north of Elba, Brown found herself at the Winter Solstice staring down at the Whitewater River. She was mesmerized.

“It was incredibly cold, and when I took my glove off to snap the photo I thought my fingers would drop off,” Brown said. Originally called Whitewater Light, the painting depicts a serene winter afternoon on the banks of the Whitewater River. “I love to paint landscapes devoid of man-made objects the most.”

When she isn’t painting, Brown can be found stitching, building a dollhouse, making miniature statues, crafting small books and calendars, creating cartoons of her neighbors, or producing skits and plays. An artist with many creative hats, Brown continues to paint mostly outdoor scenes and said the Winona area serves as her favorite backdrop.

“I’m drawn to water and here in Winona, it doesn’t get much better,” she said. “I believe that Courage Cards is an excellent program that uses local artists’ work. They have treated me well and I hope that my work will appeal to many, so that in my own small way, I am helping others.”

Courage Cards are available at most metro area grocery stores and online at http://www.couragecards.org. To purchase Brown’s Quiet Light Card, visit the Courage Cards' website and type in Yarrow Brown in the search box.

Proceeds from the sales of the Courage Cards go directly to efforts supporting the Courage Center in Minneapolis. The 2012 Courage Cards collection features exclusive and original artwork created by acclaimed and talented artists from around the globe, including 17 from Minnesota. The wide variety of cards includes traditional and modern images and messages, city skylines, winter landscapes, and religious art. 


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