Whitefield artist Manda Hard uses painting to inspire self-love and empowerment. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she is using her art to shine a light on health care workers.
Hard, 33, grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Maine four years ago. She started painting during her time at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., taking inspiration from the women around her.
“I began to paint to show the world what I saw in women,” she wrote on her website, Penny Prints. “Coming in all shapes and sizes, all walks of life; I saw women expressing themselves beautifully. I wanted to bring that to light through my own journey and through my art.”
Hard’s paintings are a series of “girls” that she hopes a wide array of women will be able to relate to. The latest work is “Nurse Girl,” inspired by health care workers who are treating COVID-19 patients.
“We’re on the outside, we’re home, we’re not really seeing what’s going on behind closed doors. These nurses and medical staff are being thrown into a war,” Hard said. “I wanted to bring some light to them and their dedication and everything they’ve been doing to protect our families, friends, and loved ones.”
Hard contacted friends in Maine, Massachusetts, and California who work in hospitals to get an understanding of what it’s like to work through the pandemic. She interviewed health care professionals through Zoom.
“I can’t imagine every day you get up and go to work and you could bring a sickness home to your family,” she said.
Some of Hard’s other paintings include “Teacher Girl,” “Morning Girl,” “Winter Girl,” and “Beautiful Survivor,” which was inspired by a friend’s breast cancer diagnosis.
“I get inspiration from people and friends and family around me, and I try to do a wide variety of different people and different careers,” Hard said. “It might not necessarily relate to me, but that’s OK. I want to relate to other people around me.”
She sells a variety of products on her website that feature her paintings, from clothing to coffee mugs to beach towels. Hard will donate proceeds from “Nurse Girl” products to the American Nurses Foundation.
“It’s kind of a full circle — you have something nice, or you’re giving a nice gift, and that money in turn goes and helps the medical staff,” she said.
Through her art, Hard wants to bring more positivity to the world. “There’s too much shaming in the world, and there’s too much negativity,” she said. “Everybody is unique and everybody is perfect in their own way.”
Hard said she is always working on the next “girl” painting and she encourages people to send her suggestions through her website, penny-prints.com.