Rock stars: Exira Rock painted by an ancient native of the Atlantic | Way of life



ATLANTIC – Savannah Whetstone learned a lot about the art from her grandmother, Eleanor (Becker) Andersen, who loved to paint, and that mentorship continues, as the couple achieved a landmark together in an Exira park. They finished the work just in time for a rally in honor of another former resident of the region, victim of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 whose final interment took place on Saturday in the cemetery of Exira. .

Savannah grew up in Atlantic, her mother is Leslie Becker, who previously owned the Main Street Grill in the Whitney Building on Chestnut Street.

“So we have a lot of history here,” she said.

While the Main Street Grill was open, there were many paintings of Eleanor on the walls for display and sale, and some of those from Savannah, and over the years Savannah continued to draw and paint, in fact she has a graphic design company and a website at https://www.savannahwhetstone.com/. She does portraits and drawings, and also does freelance work, working in watercolors, and now latex paint on rock.

The Exira American Legion had wanted to add a rock, like Bubba Sorensen’s Freedom Rocks, in Legion Park. Barb and Gary Paulsen had done a lot of preparation, the plans included where the boulder would be and what would be on it. Members of the Legion had also planned that a local painter would do the job, but when that failed, they contacted Eleanor, who spoke with Savannah about it.

Savannah said she was thrilled to have completed the project, adding “I’m glad the Legion has reached out.”

The project started almost four months ago.

“We started the commission in early June,” Savannah said, adding that the American Legion group had all blueprints for the artwork ready.

But for Savannah and Eleanor, it was a big first.

“It was trial and error,” admitted Savannah, “I never painted a rock.”

So she did a lot of research. Fortunately, another artist from Iowa had plenty of clues on their website. Savannah said she spent time looking at the information on Bubba Sorensen’s Freedom Rock page for what type of paint to use and other information about painting rocks.

There are special challenges to painting on a rock, Savannah explained.

First, the surface is not exactly as flat as a canvas. She said she had to take this into account when doing things as simple as lettering. “With the letters, you have prospects that you have to fight,” she said.

The work lasted about three months, about 60 to 80 hours. “I was able to go back and forth to finish the job,” she said.

His favorite part was getting to the end result.

“Like any painting, it’s all about the process,” she said. There are some tough times when you don’t think it’s going to work. “But as you work through the ugly steps, you see (how it turns out).”

Savannah said she worked on the details while her grandmother helped mask the paint. His stepfather, Delbert Andersen, also helped clean the stains on the rock with heat or a wire brush.

The last step was to sign the rock and apply a coat of paint to seal it.

Savannah said she was glad the Legion contacted, “This is a lovely coin to add to my portfolio,” she said.

She has never done a rock before, but painted a mural for the Open Door mission. It was volunteer work, she said, a painting of a lighthouse.

After high school, Savannah moved to Omaha, where she attended the University of Nebraska for a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. “I wanted to do graphic design,” she said, “But they didn’t have a specialization in that. “

Coming back to Atlantic and Exira while rocking was also nice, she said, “It’s nice to come back and have that quiet, in town, it’s crazy.”

She is happy to have had the chance to paint the rock.

“It was new and different for sure,” she said. “With every challenge there is always stress,” but she ultimately said the rock had turned out to be excellent. “I hope (the American Legion) likes it.”


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