For as long as she can remember, St. Croix Central senior Sara Nyhus has wanted to be an artist.

"I worked diligently on improvement, even at a young age. I guess I started to recognize my somewhat inclination around third grade," Nyhus said.

On March 11, the Hazel Mackin Community Library announced that Nyhus's design was the winner of the library's Teen Mural Contest.

"We are thrilled with her vision and we are excited to see this area come to a completion," said Library Director Krissa Coleman. "A George R.R. Martin quote - 'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.' - was the Teen Advisory Board's selection for the theme of the mural. The mural which will be the final piece to the new teen area at the library."

Nyhus said she entered the mural design contest as a way to build her portfolio and get her name out as an artist.

"I was ecstatic to find out I had been selected. The day I found out I was chosen to paint the mural was also the day I received my acceptance letter to participate in the BFA program at UW-Stout; so when I received the news, it was the icing on the cake," Nyhus said.

She recently completed a large Van Gogh mural and has participated in several art galleries, including one at The Phipps.

"We have several paintings and photographs hanging around my house that I would study for hours on end. My original designs were typically a lot busier so I wanted to paint something that accompanied the library's atmosphere," Nyhus said.

The idea for her mural design came from an old photograph of Glacier National Park Nyhus had always wanted to paint. In order to complete the mural - which Nyhus started on March 16 - by the May deadline set by the library, Nyhus has been working three to four hours a day painting the mural above the teen section.

"I enjoy being there because it's a very calm and friendly place. I have been surprised by the mural a lot recently. Every time I step down from the scaffolding I see it in a whole new light; sometimes, I can't believe I even painted it," Nyhus said. "Initially, I was expecting the whole thing would take somewhere around three to four months. However, now that I began painting, I expect to be done within a week or two."

Although this is just the first year that the Hazel Mackin Community Library has held the Teen Mural Contest, Nyhus hopes the contest will continue in the future since she feels it is beneficial for both the students and the community.

"I've never been able to paint decent mountains until I stepped up to that wall. Even when I was painting the Van Gogh mural, I had never painted in his style before and yet it seemed to come very naturally to me. Now, I wouldn't say that either of the two murals are perfect, in fact, they're far from it; but those flaws are what really bring out the authenticity," Nyhus said. "Though it is usually not the best idea, I've learned and improved most from my mistakes, going in blindly with my utmost effort. All forms of art have that aspect of problem-solving through trial and error. Learning is a never-ending process just as there's always room for improvement."