Wayzata Artist Wendy Shragg Uses Intuitive, Digital Art to Bring Her Playground Kids to Life

Wendy Shragg with one of her larger "intuitive" works of art. Below, two of her Playground Kids creations.

“I look at the world through the eyes of a child,” says Wayzata artist Wendy Shragg.

“I look around and I see pattern. Shape. Shadows. Color combinations. My mind works differently.”

A lifelong creative person, she says going to college for an art degree affirmed her natural aptitude for creating beautiful things. “The knowledge I gained … I already had inside me. Those art theories never had a name before,” Shragg says. “I couldn’t explain why certain things were more pleasing or made more sense; I just knew they did.”

Through the years, she’s hand-painted clothes for kids. She’s sold jewelry and served as a travel agent. She’s painted murals and even done waxing and facials as a certified aesthetician. While she never struggled to find creative outlets, she also “never felt the confidence to say, ‘This is who I am. This is genuine,’” she says.

Until recently.

In July 2017, she launched an official website and declared to herself and the world that she was a bona fide artist. As a wife and mom to three adult kids, she was finally at a place in her life where she had time to commit to creating consistently in her home studio, even if the form changed often.

“Questions came. I thought, ‘They hate me. Why am I doing this?’ I’ve learned to quiet that voice,” she says. “I struggled with [writing for the website]—with talking about myself—but it was a brave and necessary step. When I launched the site, I finally felt credible.”

Since her official launch, she’s done abstract mark-making on 12-by-12 inch wood boards. She’s made artful leggings and tote bags. But the core of her work is in “intuitive art,” approaching a canvas with no expectations about what would appear on it. She’ll slather on layers of paint until a feeling, shape or image appears, and then “just go with it until I know it’s complete,” she explains. Sometimes a piece comes together in an hour, and sometimes one stays in the studio for months, unfinished. “You can’t force it,” she says.

In an effort to focus her creative energy a bit and give herself a more portable way to work, Shragg recently committed to creating on her iPad Pro each day for 100 days.

“You can’t travel with a suitcase of art supplies. I wanted to work a little smaller, in more detail, focus in a bit,” she says. There were many different results, until one day a child appeared in her artwork—and then each day, another one. As with her other work, the process of creating for #the100dayproject, which Shragg wrapped up on July 12, was a fluid one, starting with eyes, a nose, mouth and a random background. She never approached a piece with a message or face in mind, but they came as she layered up colors digitally. Social media followers began calling the diverse creations Playground Kids and waited eagerly each day for the newest visitor, sometimes naming them or suggesting backstories.

“It’s an amazing conversation that happens. I see a different side of my art. I want people to be able to look at my work and see their story in it,” explains Shragg of the final part of her creative process, when people walk up to a piece at a show or comment on a post. Another part? Her own growth, manifested through her work, and the growth it inspires in others.

“My purpose in life is to continue to evolve as an artist,” she says. “What I’m putting out is what I’m supposed to. The people who need to find me will. I have no idea where it’s going to take me, but I’m having the best time. I have a lot of trust in the universe.”