In an effort to create something both entertaining and educational for her son, artist Mandy Mohler is turning her work into at-home activities for both kids and adults alike.
The visionary behind Kalispell-based Field Guide Designs, Mohler is known for arranging groupings of items to create organized layouts. Her work started in the form of photo prints, but she also sells the object portraits as cards (you may have seen them while browsing at Rockin’ Rudy’s).
She’s always seen her art as having more potential than just being hung on a wall, and after stay-at-home orders went into effect due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was driven to turn her art into action. She’s now using her designs to produce coloring pages, jigsaw puzzles and more, and the new offerings have been flying off the shelves.
“They all sold out very quickly,” Mohler said of the puzzles, adding she had to reorder more pretty soon after the first shipment came in.
While stuck at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mohler had been looking for pre-K activities for her 5-year-old-son Archie.
“I wanted to give him stuff where he was using motor skills,” she said. The “Spring Coloring Pages” have helped him learn how to stay in the lines and identify colors.
She figured she wasn’t alone in searching for ways to keep Archie busy and decided to sell the coloring pages on her website.
“I had some that are very highly detailed that would be better suited for adults … then flowers that are bigger tend to be more fun for little kids.”
She uses Adobe Illustrator to copy her designs to a skeleton form that can be filled in with colors. So far she’s offering a detailed grouping of conifer-related images, a floral illustration, plus arrangements of gardening tools and baking supplies.
“I’m trying to make them line for line, but you really have to interpret, because sometimes things don’t read well the way they are,” she said.
She plans to expand her coloring page offerings and possibly turn them into a book.
“What’s nice about the coloring pages is I don’t even have to ship them. If they have a printer, they don’t have to go anywhere,” she said, adding once you pay, you can print the pages off as many times as you want.
Around the same time, a couple of friends suggested she make her prints into puzzles.
She’s currently offering six varieties, including arrangements of objects you’d find in a Forest Service cabin, rows of beer bottles, camping gear, bicycle parts, fly fishing equipment and farming supplies. The puzzles range between 350 and 672 pieces each.
Marianne Evenhuis said she saw Mohler’s puzzles through the artist’s Instagram page and snagged one right away.
“I live in Whitefish and her art is all over town,” she said. “I’m always looking for a good one and I think her images are perfect for puzzles.”
She purchased the “Forest Service Cabin” version, 500 pieces, and finished it in two nights.
“I’m kind of picky about puzzles. I can’t stand when they’re all one color,” she said, adding Mohler’s images work well because you can pick up a piece and fairly quickly know where it goes. “So it’s less frustrating and more fun to do.”
As a jewelry-maker, Evenhuis wanted to support a fellow artist finding creative ways to provide resources during the pandemic. She herself started a sale on her Etsy page to raise money for Feeding America, bringing in $430 in one week for the nonprofit.
The new endeavor is keeping Mohler, her son and her customers busy and it's helping her maintain some form of income as an artist.
“We’re definitely the ‘have to have our hands busy’ kind of people, so finding these little creative projects is a great way for us to keep my revenue stream rolling,” she said. “Especially if shows get canceled this summer.”
Mohler’s work can be purchased at fieldguidedesigns.com.