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Iowa Artist

Bob Kling

6/30/2021

Potter, painter, art teacher

Bob Kling perfected his artistic skills when he taught high school art for 33 years.

What does a red glazed vase, a motorcycle, a semi-nude woman and a basket of apples all have in common? 

These are a handful of the diverse artworks artist Bob Kling has created or painted over the past four decades of his career.

Kling, based in Indianola, is not only a painter, he is also a potter. He acquired and perfected the skills when he taught high school art for 33 years.

“In a small school, you learn everything,” he says. “It’s unusual for an artist to be both a painter and a potter.” 

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He knew as a young boy his talent for painting and drawing would lead him to his career as an artist. His uncle, a sign writer, gave him art advice.

Kling paints a variety of subjects, often creating a series of like objects. When he couldn’t travel last year due to COVID, he took out photos of his previous year’s garden and painted 23 large florals. He went to Hy-Vee and purchased produce, painting apples and peppers. Some paintings are so realistic, they appear to be photographs.

Ideally, he’d like people to realize two truths after they’ve viewed his work. 

“Number one, I really love doing it,” he says. “Number two, I’m really good at it. I tell kids it’s not bragging if it’s the truth.”

Kling shows his art at exhibits across the U.S. He attends art festivals with both pottery and paintings on hand and enjoys conversing with the patrons. 

“When I make pottery, it’s to sell,” he says. “I don’t always paint to sell. I paint what I want. Usually there’s someone into one of the subjects I’ve painted, such as classic cars or figure painting.”

He recently moved into a new home with a new studio — a former garage transformed into a mini-gallery. With a large garden space, he has ample subjects to paint right in his back yard. In June, he hosted a studio and garden tour at his new digs. He’s displaying his art in the Waukee Arts Festival July 16-17.  

“It’s fun to do local festivals. As the Waukee Festival draws from the Des Moines metro, there’s a lot of quality artists, and I’m happy to show alongside other quality works,” he says.

The mechanics of running a business is a challenge, along with maintaining self-discipline. It’s easier now as he’s only teaching one art class at Simpson College.  

“It’s easy to come up with excuses not to work,” he explains. “Most artists have some rigamarole to put off work. It’s easy to get back in. I always have something to work on.”

Kling has also written a book titled, “How to Glue Your Face To The Carpet.” It is for art teachers who give out sketch book assignments. 

The most common advice he gives to budding student artists? 

“The key is to draw, draw, draw,” he says. “Practice, practice, practice.”

With countless paintings to his name, it’s difficult to pick his favorite masterpiece. But after taking a minute to ponder, he comes up with the right answer.  

“I’m hoping the next one will be my favorite,” he says. ♦

One Comment

  1. Sue Brock says:

    An artist with an unmatched talent, along with an infectious personality and laugh! Enjoyed working with him for many years! A true and master teacher in every way! My son lives near Waukee so I plan on attending the Waukee Arts Festival to say “hello” and possibly become a proud owner of one of his masterpieces!

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