DEWITT, Iowa – Sharon Larson calls herself a “baby artist.” That is, she has spent a lot of time learning about art, taking some small steps and perhaps stumbling a bit, all in the name of art. But in February, the “baby artist” took a big step by opening the Homestead Art & Studio at […]
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DEWITT, Iowa – Sharon Larson calls herself a “baby artist.”
That is, she has spent a lot of time learning about art, taking some small steps and perhaps stumbling a bit, all in the name of art.
But in February, the “baby artist” took a big step by opening the Homestead Art & Studio at 520 8th St. in downtown DeWitt. The studio showcases works by Iowa artists (and an Illinois artist or two). In early April, Homestead was showcasing works from 52 artists with a goal of having about 100 artists eventually show off their works in her studio shop.
“We’ve handpicked creations made by artists from all around Iowa. From quirky to classy, the art we carry is sure to brighten your home and soul,” the studio’s website boasts.
“I’m getting really good feedback from the community,” said Ms. Larson. “Sales have been good. … People have been telling me DeWitt needed something like this. It was a niche DeWitt didn’t have.”
Every corner of the small shop – about 950 square feet that once was a bakery – features something from the art world. Some of those creations include:
Abstract paintings created by a Clinton man. “This is one of my favorite stories. This man (who created the art) had these in his basement and asked to show them here,” Ms. Larson said.
- Wire art made in the form of wind-blown trees from an artist in Fairfield, Iowa.
- Little girls’ dresses made by a Davenport woman.
- Turkey feathers with wildlife images painted on front of the feathers.
- A photo of an old red barn mounted on canvas.
- Hand-painted oak tiles transformed into artistic coasters.
- Pottery, jewelry, quilts, candles and soap.
- And lots of images of dogs created by Ms. Larson. ”Most of my commissions these days are of people’s dogs,” she added.
“I think the artists are super happy to have an outlet,” she added.
But Homestead Art & Studio is more than a shopping place; it’s also a place to create art. Ms. Larson offers art classes at her business.
“Our goal is to make art accessible and approachable. It’s easy for some of us to say, ‘I’m not creative.’ … We know that everyone is creative, sometimes it requires a little practice in a fun, non-intimidating environment,” according to her website.
Some of those studio classes include watercoloring (a specialty of Ms. Larson), wire-wrapped pendant jewelry and calligraphy brush lettering.
But before the art business and art classes, Ms. Larson started by picking up a child’s watercoloring kit and discovered her artistic calling. “I loved it. And when you love it, you have to learn more about it. … I was like a baby artist. I just kept learning,” she added.
A few years ago, she started showing her art and advertising her services to clients through her online business – Larson Watercolors, at www.slarsonwatercolors.com.
She offers her services for pet, house and farm portraits, and even book illustrations. She also started offering online art classes through her website. The classes, which began just two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, turned out to be a great platform for her other artistic ventures, she said.
“People were still looking for an outlet for their art … And since the pandemic, a lot of them aren’t afraid of Zoom anymore,” she added.
Ms. Larson hopes to continue providing that artistic outlet with Homestead Art & Studio.
“This is nothing too stuffy, but just something fun for DeWitt,” she added.
For more information, visit www.homesteadartandstudio.com
Sharon Larson at a glance
Sharon Larson of Long Grove, Iowa, opened Homestead Art & Studio in DeWitt, Iowa, a few weeks ago. Here are some facts about Ms. Larson:
- Ms. Larson said she doesn’t have a lengthy background in art. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and writing from the University of Wisconsin and had the goal of becoming an editor.
- She says she does not have any artistic role models. Her grandfather, however, did create art with his oil paintings. Ms. Larson tried her hand at oil painting, but found it was not for her and eventually found her artistic calling with watercolors in 2014.
- She is a member of the Beaux Arts executive committee that helps support the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.
- Her artwork has been displayed at the Bucktown Center for the Arts in Davenport, the Opera House in DeWitt and regional art fairs.
- She is the only full-time employee at the Homestead Art & Studio. However, she gets some assistance from her daughter-in-law.