Willmar’s Ana Serrano paints what inspires her, and a lot inspires her


— When one looks at the art of Ana Serrano, a painter based in Willmar, they should know they are seeing the painter herself.

“It’s a big spectrum — from ‘I think it is funny’ to ‘it’s really personal’ and everything in between,” Serrano said. “It is a reflection of who I am.”

Visitors to the Willmar Education and Arts Center have been given the chance to see those paintings, ranging from the surreal to the serious, in the art exhibit “Paints and Pots.” The show, a dual exhibit featuring the work of both Serrano and potter Hiep Nguyen, is being held by the Willmar Area Arts Council through January.

Serrano started drawing when she was a child and by the time she was in elementary school became aware of the great love she had for art.

“It sort of snowballed,” Serrano said. “I never stopped drawing after that.”

She took various art classes in high school and continued that when she attended Ridgewater College.

“I took a lot of painting classes there,” as she worked on her associate degree, Serrano said. “That’s where I got the interest to paint.”

It was also at Ridgewater where she was introduced to oil paints, a new medium for Serrano. She found acrylic paints too fast and plastic-like. With oils, Serrano found a medium with which she could really express herself.

“It is such a slow, vibrant medium,” Serrano said, and allowed her to create the paintings she envisioned in her mind. “I fell in love with it.”

Serrano has been painting with oils since around 2016, and has captured a myriad of subjects in those paintings. At the “Paints and Pots” exhibit, there are several small paintings of musicians, a portrait of a girl with ravens in her hair, a chicken eating a drumstick and duck that looks like the composer Beethoven.

“Inspiration comes from everything and everywhere,” Serrano said. “Sometimes I just think up a wacky idea.”

She has always had a love of birds, and her art reflects that. At the WEAC exhibit, Serrano has a series of realistic bird paintings paired with recordings of the birds’ calls.

She has also taken inspiration from her Mexican culture, including a few photos of pigs painted in the style of Talavera pottery. She created a large painting of a girl in traditional dress, in tribute of Serrano’s grandmother.

“It’s all over the place; it thinks in color, it likes music,” Serrano said of her inspirations.

Painting is a chance for Serrano to stretch her creative muscles and share a bit of herself with those around her. It allows her to create. If the opportunity arose that allowed Serrano to make a career out of art she would, but regardless she has no intention of putting down her paintbrush.

“Art has always been escapism, a relief to just do something,” Serrano said. “For me, art is an emotional release.”

Serrano urges others to give art a try. She is a firm believer that anyone can make art.

“Anyone can draw; anyone can do art,” Serrano said. “It takes the time, dedication and will to put pen to paper.”

And who knows, you might just stumble upon a new passion.

“Just do it,” Serrano said. “You never know what you can create or what you will fall in love with.”

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