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Denny Fjeld

Peer-led Art Class Leads Minnesota Visitor to Rediscover his Passion

by Rocio Villalobos

It had been decades since he last picked up a paintbrush, but after taking an art class at Weslaco’s Snow to Sun RV Resort, Denny Fjeld was immediately reminded of his enjoyment of the craft. That one class he attended in 2016 led him to further explore the arts.

“I used to do it in high school many years ago, and I thought, ‘Well, I’d like to try it again,’” Denny said. “That’s kind of how it got started.”

Denny and his wife, Barb, come from Minnesota to spend six months in the RGV. Since he started painting again, Denny said he’s created about 30 prints--ranging from WWII planes to lighthouses to the Statue of Liberty to rivers and scenes from nature. One area Denny is aiming to improve is his flowers.

As for how he finds inspiration as to what to paint, Denny turns to Pinterest.

“I look at pictures on there, and if I see something I like, I save it and download it to my photographs,” he said. “Also, I’ve become more aware of art in my surroundings. If we’re at a restaurant, I’ll see a painting I like and get up to take a picture.”

On their way to South Texas, the couple stopped at the Grand Canyon and took plenty of pictures, so Denny said that’s a painting he’d like to create.

Denny credits his neighbors and fellow painters at Snow to Sun for helping him advance his artistic skills.

“We don’t have an art instructor. Everyone just helps each other and gives you ideas,” he said. “They’ve shown me techniques, such as how to blend colors.”

It was a friend he made at the class who introduced him to a McAllen art studio that teaches woodcarving and wood burning. But his main form of creating is with acrylic paints.

To Denny, spending time working on art is relaxing. He listens to music to “get in the zone” and said once he starts, the time just flies.

“It’ll be one o’clock and she’ll (Barb) say, ‘I’m going to the pool’ and I might have started painting, and I’ll say, ‘I’ll come in a little bit’ and I put my headphones on,” Denny said. “Pretty soon, she’s coming home, and it’s 4:30, 5:00 and it’s like, ‘Whoa! Where did the time go?’”

He and Barb also enjoy visiting local art galleries. They said even the art they’ve seen from elementary school and high-school students in the RGV blows them away.

As the Fjelds do not have the space to hang all of Denny’s paintings in their unit, they’ll give some away to friends or to a cause. At a recent silent auction in the park raising money for Mexican refugees, one of his paintings sold to a dentist in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico.

And the Fjeld’s efforts to help the RGV community don’t end there. The pair volunteers with Weslaco’s First Baptist Church’s monthly food distribution--with Border Mission’s weekly service of feeding about 400 people a week--and have sponsored a child in Nuevo Progreso through a nonprofit agency.

“When I volunteer, I always feel like I get back a lot more than I give,” Barb said. “Plus, everyone there enjoys what they’re doing, and you get to meet so many people you would never meet under other circumstances.”

Denny expresses the same sentiment, adding: “It’s a positive thing. There’s so much negativity out there that it’s nice to be able to do something to help.”

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