Northeast Iowa

In the twenty-five years that I have been painting the landscape, the area close to my home has become more urbanized. Housing has taken more and more land, and mansions have been plunked in spare scenic areas—former woodlots and the remainder of the oak savannas. Creeks have been straightened; fence rows have been removed taking with them the trees, shrubs, and grass that broke up and helped visually articulate the topography. In the summer when the corn and beans approach maturity the landscape is a vast unbroken sea of unrelenting green; after the crops have been harvested and the residue has been rolled into giant bales the fertile Iowa soil seems little more than a drab desert.

So I began to look for subjects north and eastward where agricultural activity is somewhat restricted by more active topography. The hills are rounder, and the vistas reach farther. While I had traveled through the area many times on my way to other places, looking through artist eyes it was fresh and newly interesting material, and some days I’ll discover an amazing vista, and I’ll still be genuinely surprised that I am in Iowa.

I have to leave home very early in the morning to reach this area to get the early morning light that I find desirable. Some days I would drive two hours only to find the sky overcast despite the promise of the sun from the local forecaster. In 2006 we purchased a small vacation rental property in the Northeast Iowa town of Lansing to be able to spend more time in the area. I wanted to become more familiar with the area, to be able to spend time observing and understand the topography. Now it seems like home to me.