Antiques & Collectibles: Local artists inspire fun art, not fine art

Lisa Schneider.jpg
Lisa Schneider

So you think you are an artist? Today, many folks, from children to adults, are trying their skill at painting on canvases. You can find them in a studio, a private get-together or working solo to create their own collectible Van Gogh or Norman Rockwell.

Canvas and Chardonnay , in Rochester, is where Lisa and Joe Schneider operate their business.

"Our studio itself is an antique of sorts, being that it was built in 1880," said Lisa Schneider, chief creative officer. "We were the first of our kind here in Rochester and Southeast Minnesota. There are a lot of businesses that have popped up recently like ours, and most of them only do 'to go' parties. Ours is unique in that we have an actual studio, with over 200 paintings on the walls, which lends itself to a more creative environment.

"We're also set up for having paint spilled and splattered, whereas most people don't want that kind of mess in their homes," Lisa said. "Groups like to come and paint, and many will then venture out around downtown to continue their fun and memories."

Find Canvas and Chardonnay online at .


If Lisa Schneider sounds familiar, she also owned Color Me Mine in Rochester and enjoys interior design.

"I always had a passion to be creative, and on a return trip to Denver in 2012 I painted at a place called Canvas & Cocktails and fell in love with the concept. Within a few months I opened our studio here."

Also in Rochester is the Urban Easel, where you can paint in the studio, hold private or traveling parties, fundraisers and more in the area. For more information on the studio, contact Elin Johnson at .

In Winona, there's Backyard Brushes. Owner Sylvia Tolzin has a degree in art and is a full-time social worker.

"A friend of mine owns a small bar, the Detour, in Minnesota City, where our first paint class was held," Tolzin said. "We had 15 people, and we painted in the backyard of her bar (hence the name Backyard Brushes).

"After that, a co-worker of mine asked if I could help her paint for a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation," she said. "We held an event at Yahooligans in Kellogg for 101 people and raised over $2,000. I have been painting/guiding individuals in social painting ever since.

"I'm not trying to compete with the larger companies or businesses, just trying to bring the experience to people without conditions attached," she said. "I do private parties to adults and/or children without any minimum participants and I work with groups to raise money for their cause. I just want people to have an enjoyable social experience and hopefully they realize they enjoy painting and the arts, especially children."

Amy Gernes, of Winona, is a solo artist.


"I started painting when I was about 4 years old, or as soon as I could hold a brush," she said. "It was something that my family inspired me to do and my love of animals and their expressions. So, I was naturally inspired to do paintings of them. I especially like to do paintings of horses and dogs.

"Taking art classes in school and onto take painting classes at Winona State University, I believe that my work is always evolving and developing," Gernes said. "After I do a painting of someone's pet, seeing their happiness is also a great motivator."

Gernes has done numerous paintings in her studio and does some shows.

"I recently showed at the Spring Art Show, Polish Museum, Winona. With plans to be at the Stockholm, Wis., art fair this summer and to do a showing at the Alma, Wis., art festival in September, I may add a few more.

"I study many different artists and art history. My style is expressionism," Gernes said. "I feel that I have a unique sense of color and the ability to translate that into the expression of the animals that I paint. Most of my paintings are acrylic on canvas. Once in awhile, I'll paint on wood, furniture or do a mural on a wall. I also like to do abstract paintings and I get custom orders."

Every artist wants to make painting fun. Schneider said, "My favorite is 'Paris at Night,' simply because it looks harder than it is and everyone's paintings always look much better than they think it is going to look."

Tolzin said, "I use acrylic paint since it dries quickly (unlike oils) and my private parties last on average two-and-a-half hours. A picture is selected by the host, then I guide individuals step by step painting a picture. Individuals can swap out colors or even paint a totally different picture if they like since it's their picture, and the goal is for them to have a fun experience while taking home a picture they like and also they created."

Johnson also has this same concept, where you can pick the painting and have fun.


Schneider said, "We just let go and have fun. After all, this is FUN art, not fine art at our studio."

Sylvia Tolzin with student.jpg
Sylvia Tolzin, owner Backyard Brushes with a student.

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