Alice Berning is a painter and her canvas comes in many shapes: pumpkins, gourds, even cookies.
“I started painting on pumpkins and such in 1985. I just wanted to give people something, to spread a little happiness,” explains Alice.
From there, her canvas grew, but pumpkins are still her favorite. Every fall, Alice stocks up on pumpkins at local farmers’ markets, paints quirky faces on them, tops them with a flower, and then gives them away. Each pumpkin she paints includes her signature ladybug.
“Everything I make has a ladybug. When kids see my work, the first thing they do is look for the ladybug, not at what I painted! If I forget a ladybug they let me know,” says Alice with a smile.
Each pumpkin takes about 30 minutes to complete. One year, Alice painted 350 pumpkins. She paints each pumpkin individually; there’s no assembly line to her work. She happily gives away most of her work, but each year she sells her paintings at the annual craft sale at Bismarck’s St. Mary’s Grade School.
At age 83, Alice says she is busier than she’s ever been, and has no plans to slow down or stop painting anytime soon. A musician by trade—she has a doctorate in music education and taught at the collegiate level—her hands are now stained with paint, a look she says suits her just fine.