Lindy Hargrave spreads kindness along with charcoal, graphite, and paint

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You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

"Art is in my DNA," says illustrator and photographer Lindy Hargrave, who moved to Denver from Colorado Springs in 2009 to study at Metro State University of Denver. Hargrave's dad is a jeweler, and her mom is an artist and was formally an art teacher -- a slightly ironic twist since it was a teacher who initially convinced Hargrave to abandon her artistic endeavors.

See also: DADA Art Bar gives art lovers and artists a place to hang out -- and hang

"I had a third grade teacher I adored tell me I shouldn't be an artist because I'd starve," Hargrave recalls. "So, I dropped it for a long time." Hargrave didn't take another art class until college, at which point she enrolled in a photography course at a community college in Colorado Springs. Hargrave "fell in love," she says. "I've always liked photography because it is easier to take a picture than to sit down and do a drawing." "But," continues Hargrave, "Drawings are fun because you can really push the limits." The artist ended up finishing her bachelor's at Denver Metro and built her own degree, combining art and community development (another passion). She made her public art debut appearing in a juried show at Denver Metro in 2010. Her charcoal and graphite self portrait, the rose lenses drawing above, was one of sixty works chosen from hundreds and the very first drawing she did for school. Hargrave enjoys experimenting with all materials and mediums, but says she is most proficient at oil pastels. "To me, the medium really is in service to whatever you are trying to communicate," Hargrave says, adding, "I'm most interested in being able to illustrate experiences and emotions." Hargrave has struggled with depression and thinks of drawing as a tangible means to expressing what she's dealt with. "There's the cathartic element of doing, and then you're also left with the visual piece showing what you've been through," says Hargrave. She recently illustrated her first children's book, the forthcoming Better than Cheese written by Cam Vuksinich -- an endearing piece focusing on the science of giving and the importance of spreading kindness. Much like the star of the book, Amazing Mouse, Hargrave learned through the challenging experience of illustrating an entire book to "embrace the amazing things in my life," she says. Hargrave also does live painting and has appeared at the Cow Town Jazz festival at the Oriental Theater for the past two years and will appear again this October. "I like the live stuff because it is challenging," she says. "I don't know what I'm going to paint until I get there; people are there watching you, and you aren't in your private world where you can make mistakes." This sort of challenge, Hargrave thinks, is what inspires the greatest work of all. When she isn't drawing, Hargrave likes to hand-paint instruments. "I painted a rad pink paisley and rose design for the bassist of Gort vs. Goom, and I'll be at a bluegrass festival later this month doing live embellishments on instruments," Hargrave says. She likes the idea of music being a medium for expression, too, and especially loves when the visual and auditory can come together. For more of Hargrave's stuff, visit her website. Follow Jamie Siebrase on Twitter.

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