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Burlington artist finds the time to paint

Artist John Carlson of Burlington.
Artist John Carlson of Burlington.

By day, John Carlson works in an ethanol plant.

But in the evenings and on weekends, he makes art.

Fourteen of the Burlington artist’s colorful and distinctive oil paintings are on display this month at the Round Room Gallery at the Keokuk Public Library.

Carlson, 60, has shown his work for many years in the Keokuk Art Center’s annual exhibit, but this is the first time he’s been featured in a one-man show there.

The Burlington artist’s style is abstract, expressionist, and uniquely his.

“I think I’ve only ever painted in this style. I started in high school and then kind of put it away. Eventually I came back to it,” Carlson said.

Carlson works as a corn grader at Big River Resources.

He said his father also had artistic tendencies, and he’s always had a creative side.

“There isn’t much call for that in my job duties, so it’s important to kind of let that out every once in a while,” Carlson said.

As the artist gets older and is exhibiting his work more, he is carving out more time to paint.

He used to mostly paint on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but now finds time in the evenings, too.

Most of his works of art take three or four weeks to complete.

While a lot of art has social or political meaning, that’s not what Carlson is expressing.

“For me I think it’s a way to express my personal feelings, to try to get it out there. I’m kind of a shy person, this might be my only outlet,” Carlson said.

His paintings are also imbued with his sense of humor, he said.

The Round Room Gallery is inside the Keokuk Public Library at 210 N. 5th Street and is open to the public daily except Sunday.

The exhibit will hang throughout the month of August with a reception for the artist planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, in the gallery. The public is invited to attend.

Note: Jane Carlson and John Carlson are not related.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.