It's Been Awhile

So begins a new series I've titled "Fields". So far the goal is 18 large pieces and 12 small pieces. I'm using earth pigments, charcoal, conte, and mixed media pm cotton and silk fabrics this time around with machine stitching as the finishing touch.

I've been dragging my feet to start on this series, as it is the first series where I won't be using natural dyes. Fabric painting begins tonight. Photos coming soon.

Vignettes Hung

The Solo Show has been Hung!!! 
Yay Me!!!

So last week I was bemoaning the birth of a new series for me, vignettes of sorts that I've tentatively dubbed "Prairie Studies", and today after having hung the show yesterday, I've come to the realization that these pieces are a series of short stories that I've grouped together in a way that hopefully makes some sense.

When Wednesday night came around I was hating everything I had created, by yesterday afternoon I was like "meh", and after having hung the show thinking to myself "okay it's not so bad after all".  Honestly the Mary Greeley employee, who came by while I was away for a few minutes signing contracts and getting end dates for picking up my work in June, who inquired about purchasing one of my pieces made me really happy!

So all in all maybe I did manage to pull this one off, it was quite the in process journey of deciding how it would all go together. Oh and there's only one piece that I truly don't like and it's because the color on one of the items in the grouping is all wrong, but I'll fix that when it comes back home.

Vignettes and Textile Art

I have a solo show coming up that I will be hanging at the local hospital on the 30th, and I've yet to create a single piece for that show.  Nope instead I've been working on other projects, ideas I just can't seem to get out of my head.

It's no lie, I've been struggling with what I want to say, what I want others to see, how I see the world, and this ties into my brand, licensing, and a whole nuther ball of wax.

So today, as I was cleaning my sewing table in desperate search for a needle I lost in hopes that the fur kids wouldn't find it with their feet, somehow the idea of 'vignettes' crept into my mind.  So I wrote the word down and once I was done clearing my table, no I didn't find the needle, I got onto Google and looked up the definition of vignette.

Vignette in the literary world usually refers to a small impressionistic scene.  Vignette in the visual arts world in a nutshell means that the edges fade into the background.

Corn No. 51

With the exception of election years and natural disasters Iowa pretty much has mastered the ability to fade into the background, maybe this is why the 'coasters' refer to this part of the US as fly over country???

In Memory of Corn No. 1

So now I'm contemplating the concept of a vignette and how this relates to the prairie and plains states and to fiber and textiles in general.  And then I started digging through old photos I've taken of this great state, and of artwork I've already created and now see that I may have been creating vignettes all along.  Sometimes it takes the artist way longer to see, than it does their audience, what they have been saying all along, sounds counter intuitive but it is what it is.

Queen Anne's Crow No. 2 detail

So I'm off to to do some more thinking, and possible some digital collage making tonight so that I can start printing fabric and paper first thing in the morning. The next eight days will be a flurry of creativity and most importantly stitching!

Day 2 60 Day Bird Journal Challenge

Day 2 Story
Resting in arborvitae beside my house
Your song brings to the trees to life.
Is your song ushering in the coming storm?
Or are you singing a song of joy?
A tasty morsel to share,
No creature dares to leave the protection of the tree.
Branches shivering, the Sun twinkling, and the sky a brilliant blue,
Deceptive beauty as nature braces for a fatal blow.
The wind smells of snow.

Going back to Day 2, I had a head start by a couple of days because well I'm writing the prompts, etc., so noticed that I had made a couple of attempts at either a poem or story in my journal.  

I think the sketch pretty much sums it up, it's frigid out right now, the birds are all huddled in the neighbors arborvitaes, I know they are roosting in the tree because you can hear them chirping away if one listens closely enough.  I suspect that they are egging one another one (pun intended) to leave the tree for food and water and no one wants to give up their warm spot on the branch.

Oliver Files: After the Storm

Oliver and his ball.  We experienced a large amount of hail today, golf ball sized hail and discovered Oliver is scared of hail!

Excuse the mess this is the "nest" he made today between the dining and family rooms, he's a very busy dog that loves to build nests and each nest requires shredded paper.  Yes he has a crate and a blanket for his crate but nothing rocks his world more than a fresh nest!

The hail was about the size of grapes when it first started falling.

Solo Show at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium

The wall!!! I have a variety of styles per say in this show, Mixed Media Fiber in the form of the niches, Paint in the form of the acrylic painted panel frames, and Encaustic in the form of the smaller encaustic paintings.  The theme is Queen Anne's Lace and Crows, so there is some consistency.

This is the only close up photo that didn't end up blurry, I will have to take new photos when we go up in a month to take the show down!

Stop by and check out my show, be sure to sign in and let me know you stopped by!!! My show runs the month of May at the Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Iowa!

Queen Anne's Lace Panels in Progress

Not feeling the love!  I'm left wondering how much better these panels would turn out if I wasn't so distracted by a million things that need to be done before my solo show is hung this weekend?

As you can see from the previous photo that each layer of paint is leading towards improvement, and yet I'm just not feeling it.  The good news is I found six gesso'd raised panel frames today that I plan to go full tilt on later this evening! 

Baltic Birch raised panel frames, taped and gesso'd another words ready for paint!

Artist Interview with Denice Peters

Meet Denice Peters!

Denice Peters is an Iowa native and was born and raised in LeMars, IA.  Life pulled her in other directions for a time, but came to realize life is too short not to follow her dreams. So, she took the plunge to be a full time artist.  Mostly a self taught artist, she has taken the time to hone her own vision and technique.  Her vision is clear in her vivid realistic depictions of our rural scenes and landscape.  She exhibits nationally and her work has won many awards.

Denice says, “I’ve found that pastels give me that “hands on” aspect of painting that I love so much!  I love to “get right in there” and I become part of each painting in many ways. I love pastels so much that they are all I use now.  We overlook the things we see every day. God gave us many beautiful things. The beauty that surrounds us here in the Midwest is what I strive to capture before it disappears.”

She’s a member of the Pastel Society of America, Iowa Artist association and Iowa Pastel Society.  Her work can be seen at Clear Lake Art Center, Clear Lake, IA; Corning Center for Art, Corning, IA; and Xanadu Online Gallery, Scottsbluff, AZ.  She offers workshops and classes, and her website address is    
I have been an artist my whole life.  Drawing and painting has always been a huge part of me.  Life tries to pull you away from your dreams at times.  But I took the plunge to be a full time professional artist about 4 years ago.  It was a bad year for me, I lost both parents 7 months apart and in between them I lost my job.  I just came to realize that life is too short NOT to follow your dreams.  
I am currently working on rural landscapes in pastel.  For almost 20 Years, pastels are all I that I use.  I had a happy incident at an oil painting workshop back then.  The artist asked if anyone had another day, he'd show us pastels.  I said "Why not?"  Well, I was hooked!  I fell in love with the rich creamy vibrant colors of pastel.  I also gave me that tactile sensation of feeling the colors and strokes as I work.  No other medium but graphite or charcoal ever came close.  I work and blend with my hands and fingers.  Nothing separates me from my work, like a brush or something.  It's just me and my painting.  

When I start a painting, I work out the composition in my head and on a screen and sometimes paper.  I do everything by hand.  I freehand sketch my large shapes and composition on my surface.  On occasion, I will apply some dark pastel and then do an alcohol wash to block in the darkest areas and shapes.  Mostly though, I just start in painting!  I always start on the top of the painting working from dark to light and background to foreground.  

I find that I need to paint, so I try to do art related things every day.  If I can't for a few days, I feel down, so I'm either painting every day or working on the computer promoting my work.  I have been blessed with many opportunities so far.  And I have so many ideas yet to paint!

Art Crawl Interview with Steve Hosch

This weeks interview is with Artist Steve Hosch!

· How did you get your start as a professional artist?

While I’ve made art my whole life, I’d never made an attempt to market and sell my work until a few years ago. I really don’t know what inspired me to get serious about my art at that time. Mid-life crisis? Turning 40 looming around the corner?

I was confronted with a pile of birdhouse gourds I’d grown the year before taking up space in my garage. Throw them out or do something with them? I cleaned them up, drilled holes in them, and used my wood-burning tool to “draw” some simple designs. Needless to say, I quickly tired of making birdhouses, so I bought some other varieties of hard-shell gourds and began experimenting. I bought a Dremel and played around with relief carving, I messed around with dyes and painting techniques, and I even taught myself how to coil pine needles. Eventually I got rather adept working in this medium, turning plain old gourds into bowls, vases, pitchers, and masks. Pushing my fear of rejection aside, I contacted Mike Miller at Gallery 319, showed him a few of my pieces, and asked him if he’d be willing to display and sell my work. He agreed, and for the next five years I made and sold—at Gallery 319 and Longbranch Gallery in Mineral Point, Wisconsin—a lot of gourd art.

After about five years of gourd art, I grew increasingly bored with the medium. Around that time I ran across a website called Loving Mixed Media, an educational site devoted to nurturing artists through technique experimentation. By way of LMM, I discovered assemblage and collage, and I’ve been working primarily in those mediums ever since.

• How long have you been working as a professional artist?

Since 2005.

• What are you currently working on?

A good portion of my summer was devoted to building up a small body of assemblage work for a show I’m doing this fall (September 7-October 20) at the Plymouth Congregational Church gallery in Des Moines. Lately, though, I’ve been working on experimenting with collage.

My assemblage work can be fairly time-consuming, which generally translates into me needing to set higher prices for that work. A lot of people have shown interest in my assemblage pieces, but that interest, lately, hasn’t resulted in sales. I’m not naïve; I understand the times are tough and people don’t want to plunk down a lot of cash for an assemblage.

That said, I spend significantly less time creating my collage pieces. In fact, the process is a refreshing change; I purposefully work quicker, more playfully, allowing the collage elements to sort of come together on their own. Hopefully, in a few weeks I’ll have a small collection of collage pieces ready to go. They’ll be more modestly priced than my assemblage work, so I hope people will take them and give them a good home.
• Your current body of work depicts?

Currently I’ve been using a lot of human-based imagery, such as vintage photos and anatomy book illustrations. I try to depict the relationship of humans to the environment around them, whether that’s the natural environment or human-created “environments” and conditions. I like to also incorporate images of the man-made, such as machinery or maps, in my work; I’m attempting to depict humanity’s love affair (and I would say, an oftentimes unhealthy love affair) with technology.

• What materials do you work with and why?

For my assemblage work, I’ll work with pretty much any material I can get away with. My “studio” (really just a corner of my basement) is heaped with stuff—cigar boxes, old frames, rusty tools and other metal bits, bones, porcelain doll parts, old game boards, and the like—that I’ve collected. For my collage work, I love vintage ephemera: old books, photos, advertising, and the like, much of it over 100 years old. It’s not just the images that catch my eye; it’s also the paper itself.

For the most part, the materials are readily available and relatively inexpensive—although with the popularity of all things vintage and “retro,” this is becoming less the case. There’s just something about the patina of old stuff—rusty metal, chipped paint, stained paper—that delights me. I like the thought that I’m giving it, a la Dr. Frankenstein, new life.

• What excites you about using the materials you work with?

It’s the transformation process that excites me. I really geek being able to take some mundane piece of rusty junk or an old photo or a page out of some out-dated biology text and transform it into some it was never meant to be—a work of art. Two of my passions are art and history, so I guess my work is simply an intersection of those passions.

• Tell us about some of the processes you do in your work

One of my favorite processes—I use it quite often in my collage—is image transfer. I use a photocopy, either on paper or on a transparency, and transfer it onto another surface with matte medium. It’s a cool technique because it offers the ability to create layers in my work. I can transfer an image over the top of another image, but the bottom image is still visible.

• When you make a piece where does the inspiration come from?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Honestly, I don’t know. It may sound like a cop-out, but most of the time I really don’t know where the inspiration comes from. There are corners of my brain where stuff is stored that only sees the light of day when I sit down at my worktable. It comes across as goofy-sounding, but the junk I gather for my work “speaks” to me; I just let it tell me what to do.

• Do you make art every day?

Sadly, no. I’m a high school special education teacher, so in the two-and-a-half months of my summer, I do make art pretty much every day. However, during the rest of the year, I’m lucky to make art once a week.

It’s a Catch-22 of sorts. My art is my lifesaver; it’s a much-needed catharsis to the stress and frustration of my “real” job. However, for the nine-and-a-half months of the year when I most need it, I’m too worn-down and burned-out to do it consistently.

• What other artistic interests do you have?

I do enjoy writing. Over the years I’ve had a couple of short pieces published in some Midwestern magazines. Lately, though, my “writing” has been reduced to my blog—and the occasional Facebook rant.

• Tell us something that most people don’t know about you that they would find interesting?

 Growing up in Northeast Iowa—just 20 miles from the Mississippi River, where I loved watching tugboats guide huge barges through Lock and Dam #10—one of my first career goals was to become a tugboat pilot.

Artist Statement:

For me, my art is the metamorphosis of clutter. First, it’s about literally transforming clutter. I gather seemingly mundane objects and ephemera and bring them together to form works of art. My art is also a figurative transformation of clutter. I use the clutter-of-life that occupies space in my head and harness it to make art. “Ask questions and seek answers,” a friend once advised. At its core my art is an attempt (often dark, usually satirical) to ask questions and push the viewer to seek answers—and every so often butcher one of society’s sacred cows.


Even though art's always been a big part of his life, Steve still has a difficult time calling himself an "artist." Other than the two years spent as a frustrated graphic design major at Iowa State University, he's a self-trained artist. Steve received his bachelor of science degree in history in 1989 and took a job as a museum technician at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum, where he was involved primarily in exhibit design, construction, and maintenance. In 1991 he returned to Iowa State to attend graduate school, eventually earning a master's degree in education. Since 1992 his "real" job (that which supports his art habit) has been as a high school special educator, a career choice that requires the much-needed catharsis provided by his art. In 2005 Steve began creating vessels and masks made from hard shell gourds. However, in the summer of 2010 Steve turned his creative attention to assemblage and collage, mediums he continues to explore.

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." --Pablo Picasso