By Jim Cross, Press-News Reporter
Osage artist Eloise Kuper may have painted in many different mediums and on several different items, but one thing has pretty much stayed the same – the subject.
Kuper is preparing to open an exhibit of her works at the Mitchell County Historical Museum. A Grand Opening is being planned for Saturday, June 9 from 1 to 5 p.m. Her exhibit is titled, “Pieces of Americana”.
“When Ellen (Elsbury) asked me, I was quite surprised,” said Kuper. “It is an honor to exhibit at the museum.”
Kuper said her first “painting” experience started with a request from local neighbors. “It started when the Jorgenson brothers asked me to paint a scene on each side of a two-man saw,” said Kuper. “I painted a farm scene on one side and a wildlife scene on the other.” She said she had no idea what she was going to paint and the brothers didn’t give her any suggestions. “They told me to paint whatever I wanted, so I did,” said Kuper.
She started her hobby of creating works of art back when Altje Larson had craft shows. “I started out with Altje,” said Kuper. “It was something fun that I enjoyed doing and I have kept doing it.” It is hard to imagine that Kuper is self-taught in painting. “I actually didn’t get started in painting until I was 33 years old,” she said. Kuper has used watercolor, acrylics and oil-based paints to create her pieces. However, she enjoys the oil-based paints the most. “They’re easy to work with because if you make a mistake, it’s easy to erase.” She said.
Kuper first studied with Missouri artist Dorthea Dent and in recent years, has taken classes with regional artist David Rottinghaus. “Since I had no formal training, I wanted to learn the basics, what to do with paints and a paintbrush,” said Kuper. Over the years, Kuper has held several art classes and has especially enjoyed seeing her students walk away with a new found ability to create a piece of art.” “I tell people if they can color with a crayon and write their names, they can paint.” She said. “Everyone has an artistic side. They just have to find it.” Over the years, the subjects of her paintings have involved nature, wildlife and country living. “I really enjoy painting wildlife,” said Kuper. “It’s easy to paint.”
After 9/11, she found herself painting more eagles and patriotic themes including the American Flag. Currently, she is working on a painting of the Mitchell County Courthouse on slate along with the courthouse on a feather. A special “bonus” will be a glimpse into Kuper’s passion for creating porcelain dolls. “I got interested in making porcelain dolls after visiting Marylou Ahrens. She had one on her dining room table,” she said. “Her mother was nationally known for her china painting. “That weekend, her mother showed me how to paint. After that, Marylou and I had a porcelain doll business for about 10 years.” She still enjoys a collection of her handmade dolls with her Princess Diana doll being the centerpiece. “I spent many hours studying her features, to get them just right,” said Kuper. “Her dress and jewelry were all handmade by a friend of mine.” Joining Kuper in her exhibition will be her grandchildren Shelby Kuper, Danielle and Dawson Grunzweig, Tyler and Kyle Puettmann and Zachary and Trevor Halbach. “I’m excited they get to join me,” she said. “They are all very talented.” Kuper concluded by saying she hoped everyone enjoyed viewing work as she has enjoyed creating the pieces over the year.