It seems like when people say the Artisans Road Trip the first weekend of October can't get any better, it does.
This year's road trip features a number of artists who have been teaching or doing art professionally for many years - and a number are right in our immediate area.
Above is Karess Knudtson’s mixed media piece, “Nevermore”.
Marisa Sidles is showing her paintings at Rissy's Design & Creations at 110 North State Street in Terril. Sidles considers hers a working studio; however, people can come in by appointment.
A graphic designer by trade, Sidles has found a passion for her art, working in an acrylic/modeling paste media.
Sidles accurately describes her work as Van Gogh-influenced - her piece Moon Boots speaks to that quite eloquently, using bright colors and playfully interpreted shapes quite reminiscent of "Van Gogh's Bed.
"Art's always been my passion," said Sidles. "I like to create a mood from what that tells me. I use acrylic paint, and sometimes other mixed media, in an expressive style to create a mood or a nostalgic feel to my work. I like to use bold colors and create different textures."
Sidles said her great uncle, Donald Reynolds, who grew up in the Gruver area is now an artist living in Arizona.
Danielle Clouse, who will be showing her paintings at Pearson Lakes Art Center at 2201 Highway 71 in Okoboji, will be joined by two other artists on this year's Artisans Road Trip - Timothy J. Arand-McIlrath and Judy Thompson.
Clouse works in oils and acrylics, focusing on oils. She embraces regional landscapes, exploring with color and shape in abstract forms.
After graduating from Iowa Lakes Community College where she studied with Byron Lindell, Clouse went to the Northwest Missouri State in Maryville for her bachelor's of fine arts. Art runs in the family, since her father is an art teacher at Ruthven-Ayrshire.
"Drawing and painting as long as I can remember," Clouse said she first began doing art seriously in high school. She's currently director of visual arts at Pearson Lakes Art Center.
Clouse has found some great subject matter at her grandparents' farm - Cecil and Mae Rose Eide - where she went every weekend shen she was growing up. From that childhood experience, she's developed a love of doing rural landscapes - a series she's been working on since 2008-09.
"There's so much to work from all over this area," said Clouse.
Clouse sees the Road Trip as having a positive impact on people's perceptions of art in the area.
"I think Artisans Road Trip is starting to build a little bit," Clouse said. "I think people are spending their money differently."
Arand-McIlrath, retired Iowa State University art professor also showing at Pearson, works in both painting and sculpture. This is his fifth year for the Road Trip.
He sees a lot of folk art influences in his work as well as a lot of colors and textures. "You'll find me not afraid of color," he said.
Arand-McIlrath also feels the Road Trip has made a big impact on how area residents regard art.
"The more exposure we get the more we make our audience better," he said. "I have a real passionate need to keep creating things. I'm in it because I love doing it."
Following is his artist statement:
"Tim is a retired art professor from Iowa State University. He spent 34 years there, teaching two- and three-dimensional design studios as well as studio classes in all aspects of fiberart. His artwork has been shown in local, state, regional, national and international venues.
"Folk art has long been an area of interest for me. I have researched and collected folk art in all my travels. I have spent extended visits to Mexico and in particular to the Oaxaca area. The color, texture and freedom of expression have fascinated me for many years. There is an incredible excitement in the work of folk artists.
"I have been 'accused' of having too much fun creating my art. Not possible in my world. Having fun is one of the prime motivators in my work. I love having viewers smile. I smile a lot while I am working on my art.
"In my two-dimensional pieces, the backgrounds are painted with acrylic paint and sometimes embellished with found objects. The foregrounds have crocheted webs introduced onto the compositions. The three-dimensional pieces are usually constructed out of willow branches and are many times painted or varnished. The found objects and crocheted yarn inhabit the structures. Color, texture, repetition and pattern have always been strong elements in my work. The compositions are based on my observations of the world around us.
"Recently, in an attempt at simplification, I have chosen to title my art work with one-word titles. My work is regularly available for sale at Art on 16th Gallery in Spirit Lake.
"It is always my hope to elicit pleasure from my viewers."
Thompson works in watercolor and mixed media.
"I'm pretty well self-taught," she said. "I'm pretty disciplined," she added, noting that she works on watercolors pretty much every day.
Thompson likes doing regional landscapes and figure work. "I like to put figures in my work," she said. noting that she works from both photos and memory. "I like to do creative sense of place in my paintings."
Thompson, who exhibited in Brookings, S.D., home of the Harvey Dunn collection, acknowledges a similarity in subject matter and style in their work.
Thompson has shown in Sioux Falls and in Nebraska and does prints of a lot of her work.
The following is taken from Thompson's website.
"Putting watercolor on paper is an exciting and unpredictable adventure. It allows me to reveal the moods, colors and textures of the world around me, while still capturing a sense of mystery and depth in my compositions. When choosing a subject, I look for dramatic lighting, strong design or a captivating gesture which will resonate with the viewer.
"Transparent watercolor allows me to capture both subtle and vibrant color through multiple washes applied to paper. Pigments are allowed to mix and mingle on the paper which creates a spontaneous dimension to my work. Granulated pigments applied to either smooth or toothed paper, also help create interesting textural effects. Many times I draw part of my subject with pen and ink. These structured lines create tension with the free flowing watercolor, giving the image a dynamic feel. I also enjoy using crayon or wax resist on the paper before applying watercolor for a fresh, unexpected visual effect."
Thompson is a Midwesterner and gets much of her inspiration from the prairies which surround her home.
Her richly textured paintings have been described as "beautiful images which capture a sense of place."
Judy's artwork has received national and regional awards. In 2010, Judy was selected by the National Park Service as an Artist-in-Residence at the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Neb. where she was a featured artist for their Art-in-the-Park program. Inspired from this experience, Judy created The Homestead Series, a group of 12 paintings which are currently touring the Midwest to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act.
Judy is a signature member of the Iowa Watercolor Society and associate member of Iowa Artists, the National Watercolor Society and the Transparent Watercolor Society of America.
Hank Hall is showing his clay and mixed media and drawings and paintings at Art on 16th at 709 16th St. in Spirit Lake.
Hall was art teacher at Spirit Lake High School from which he retired in 2005, but is continuing his teaching with 150 students in his classes at his studio just this past summer, said Hall's wife and manager, Sheryl.
Hall hosts 17 other local artists in his gallery. This is actually the eighth year that Hall's been on the Road Tripp.
This will be the sixth year that Dennis Dykema has been a stop on the Road Trip. After teaching painting at Buena Vista University for 31 years, Dykema first had a gallery in Storm Lake them moved to his current second-floor studio at 1720 Hill Ave., on the corner of Hill and Highway 9 in Spirit Lake.
After graduating from Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Dykema did his graduate work at the University of Northern Iowa.
His Spirit Lake studio suits him well.
"I think of it as a working studio," said Dykema. "If somebody wants to come up to buy a painting they're welcome to do that."
Focusing exclusively on landscapes for the past 20 years, Dykema primarily does rural scenes, drawing inspiration from French Impressionists such as Monet and Cezanne as well Van Gogh, translating their technique into a more contemporary form.
After a river cruise from Paris to Normandy on which he toured Claude Monet's studio at Giverny, Dykema returned to America to work through his own water lilies series, but expanding from Monet's idyllic oeuvre to include more expansive shorelines and landscapes.
Like other area artists, Dykema sees an improving market for fine art.
Showing at A Piece of Work at 1619 Hill Ave. in Spirit Lake is Glenda Drennen who will show her paintings. Drennen describes herself as a transparent watercolor artist who has evolved into embracing all aqua-based media. Drennen's humorously whimsical painting "If the Queen Ain't Happy" depicts the Queen of Hearts.
Painting for 30 years now, Drennen has drawn inspiration from Pat Dews and Judi Betts. The past few years she's focused on painting doors of one sort or another, including a series of doors on an old street in France.
Drennen also sees an evolving of local art tastes.
"A lot of people appreciate my inventive creation and abstract and semi-abstract art" which embraces bright colors, Drennen said.
Drennen was part of the Road Trip several years ago and after a hiatus signed on again this year. Her studio is in Le Mars.
Also showing at A Piece of Work is Karess Knudtson, in photography and mixed media.
Knudtson says her work begins with original photography, evolving through mixed media such as paint, ink, fabric, metal and encaustics.
"They're all very unique," says Knudtson.
Karess studied art and worked in the art department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She later graduated from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., with a bachelor's of science in environmental science then from Virginia Tech with a master's in art education.
Knudtson's subjects range from wildlife to landscapes to prairie flowers, adding, "It's all deeply rooted in the natural world."
This her first year for the road tour, Knudtson has been showing at both A Piece of Work and Art on 16th in Spirit Lake.
Like other artists on the Road Trip, Knudtson sees the art market improving with the economy.
"I do feel that it is on the rise," she said.
A third artist showing at A Piece of Work is Anita Plucker.
Plucker's soft-toned watercolors are highly evocative works of mood and texture and include many local subjects.
Plucker was born and raised in Terril, receiving her BA in art education from Buena Vista College.
The following statement is taken from her website.
"I put my artistic career on hold to stay at home and raise my boys and as they grew older, I was able to create more artwork and began to enter area art shows. My career continued to grow as I went from art show to art show, to having limited-edition prints published, to displaying my work in galleries and juried national exhibitions.
"When my family and I moved back to the Terril area, I joined the Spencer Area Arts Council, and soon became director of the Gallery Shop and later, worked full-time as the director of education and outreach for Arts on Grand in Spencer. I currently teach art at the Spencer Middle School, enabling me finally to put my degree in education and my love to teach into full practice while still allowing fragments of free time to create.
"I teach workshops and classes for youth and adults for many art organizations and galleries. I am a member of several area arts councils, a member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, signature member of the Iowa Watercolor Society and a charter member of the Colored Pencil Society of America."
Bill Lieb, a retired architect, has brought his experience with architectural media to create artworks on a grand scale. He's showing at his studio a 15657 250th Ave., Spirit Lake. To get there, travel east on Highway 9 and 71 out of Spirit Lake, cross the bridge at East Okoboji, and turn right onto 250th Ave. (M56). Go .9 mile and look for the house on the right with the detached garage.
Lieb uses laser- and plasma-cut steel in his work, translating the sound of music three-dimensionally into "The Music Series", a wonderful example of which is "Stepping over Fire". Embracing inspiration from what he calls "The Color of Sound", Lieb has done 15-20 pieces in the series, all of which are unique in their own right.
Lieb interprets black as jazz, bright steel as classical, yellow as pop, red as salsa, blue as the blues and one rusted piece as the "Minnesota Polka".
Lieb's pathway from architecture to art was paved with experiences such as playing trumpet in high school and taking painting classes.
In addition to smaller pieces, Lieb's work includes outdoor pieces in Spencer, by the spillway on Spirit Lake and three pieces by the Pearson Lakes Art Center. He also has two kinetic pieces outside his studio, one nine and a half and the other 14 feet.