June AOM HeadshotAshley Piasecki is the June Artist of the Month. She lives in Milan and specializes in acrylic painting.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion? If so, tell us about it.June AOM Art 2

I have always been artistic. My love for art turned from a hobby to work when I was 17. I started painting and selling shoes. I did freelance art and painted shoes through college.

Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?

My recent works are taking the shape of the Mississippi River—somewhat muddy, rocky, watery, geographic and topographic looking. I work as the weekend gallery assistant at the Quad City Arts Center in downtown Rock Island, Illinois, which has a view of the Mississippi. I draw inspiration from Illinois’ geographic location in proximity to Iowa and the Mississippi River. I live in Milan on a country road where I am able to peacefully paint outside.

What opportunities does Illinois present for local artists?

The Quad City Arts is a fantastic non-profit resource for artists.June AOM Art 5 The QC Arts are continually seeking and exploiting local, national and international opportunities for artists of all mediums! Another opportunity that I have created for myself is the relationship I have built with local interior designers who use my work in their clients’ homes.

What do you like about Illinois?

One thing I like about Illinois is the weather. We have all four seasons. Illinois also has great universities, especially Northern Illinois University, and I love our sports teams, including the Bears, Cubs and Blackhawks. In addition, the history of Illinois fascinates me, and the shape of Illinois is interesting as well. The outline of the state’s borders is like an arrowhead.

What is your favoriteJune AOM Art 3 2 medium to work in?

I paint using acrylic mostly. I use oil if I'm feeling fancy, and I’ll paint with watercolor on rainy days.

Where can people view and purchase your work?

People can see and buy my work at State Street Interiors located at 905 State Street Bettendorf, Iowa. They can also view my work on Instagram.

What artist inspires you and why?

Artists Celeste Wrona and Sally Mustang inspire me. They have a sophisticated grasp on balance. Their works are abstract, watery, earthy, and have an elegant use of color.

May AOM HeadshotJesus Cruz is a barber and the owner of Cruz Cutz in Downtown Moline. He cuts a variety of intricate designs in his clients’ hair, including everything from a name to cartoon characters.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion? If so, tell us about it.

I believe I’ve been an artist all my life. I was that kid in class that drew all over his notebooks and all his homework. I just really enjoyed being able to express myself in many ways. I always appreciated art, done with pencil, markers, spray paint and just art in general. Growing up, my dad got a few tattoos, and I remember thinking that was the coolest thing in the world. There used to be this magazine you could buy at the Mexican store called Low Rider, which had this section with a bunch of artists who draw using pencil. I would always go buy them and May AOM Pic 1be mesmerized by all the art in magazine. I would go home and try to mimic some of the pieces. That’s when I knew I had a passion for art.

Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?

Being able to work in Illinois and start up my business here is a great feeling. I have my family and friends here. I graduated in Moline, Illinois. So this is home to me. I’m very thankful to be able to work here.

What opportunities does Illinois present for local artists?

Illinois has a variety of local art fairs that artists can take advantage of and show off their work.

May AOM Pic 6What do you like about Illinois?

I like that I’ve met people from all walks of life. It’s really inspired me and broadened my portfolio.

What is your favorite medium to work in?

My favorite medium right now I would have to say is hair. I own Cruz Cutz Barbershop here in Downtown Moline. So, cutting hair and doing hair designs is something I do every day. I’m able to express how I feel in these haircuts and have fun at the same time. I do anything from Super Mario, dog portraits, flowers, really anything in hair, and with hair growing back so fast, I always have a canvas.May AOM Pic 4

What artist inspires you and why?

Artists all over the world inspire me, but I would have to say that tattoo artists are one of my biggest inspirations. I sometimes see people’s work and get inspired and transfer it into haircuts. It’s just a very cool form of art.

Where can people view or purchase your work?

My work can be found on Facebook and Instagram. I would say that my Instagram is my portfolio. It’s where most of my work goes. You can make appointments through Instagram or call the shop at (309)230-9399.

Scott Deters is a painter from Teutopolis, Illinois. He mainly uses acrylic paint on pre-stretched canvases. Scott also has Cerebral Palsy, and he uses his work to show that people with disabilities can achieve success.

April AOM Head ShotHow long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and, if so, can you tell us about it?

I have enjoyed painting since I was small. I have two sisters who are very artistic. They have always included me in their artwork. I also have Cerebral Palsy, and we are continuously looking for new and innovative ways for me to paint and, more importantly, to express myself. After high school, I started working at the Day Training program at Community Support Services. They have a wonderful art program, and their paintings are auctioned off to support the program. My sister was the first teacher of that art program. After having some success there, we found a new technique that helped me better express myself. I use a laser strapped to the side of my head to direct an assistant to help me. I decide everything about the painting. It has helped me to show my feeling through my April AOM Image 5artwork.

I have given speeches and demonstrations throughout Illinois to promote my paintings. Doing this also demonstrates that people with disabilities are capable of great things. One of the first speeches I gave was in front of about 400 kids. That's when I realized that I was a voice for people with disabilities while also showcasing my paintings. It was a very powerful moment.

Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?

There is a great art community in our area that promotes all kinds of creativity. I've had the opportunity to travel throughout Illinois, show my paintings and demonstrate my abilities. I have a large group of supporters in Illinois.

What opportunities does Illinois present for local artists?

April AOM Image 1There is a yearly artisan fair and art auction, numerous places to display my art and many craft shows that promote artists in our area. We've made many connections across the state and received a lot of positive feedback. It is our goal to help people see that disabilities do not need to stand in the way of success. I have a great set of family and friends who continue to support my artwork.

What do you like about Illinois?

I like the fact that our state supports artists of all abilities. Many of the schools have art teachers in every grade from kindergarten to high school. All of the schools we've spoken to have been very supportive of all types of art.

What is your favorite medium to work in?

I work on pre-stretched canvases and use acrylics for my artwork. Acrylics dry faster, and I get the best results from them. I have also painted on wood.

Where can people view or purchase your work?April AOM Image 3

I can be reached with any questions or interest in my paintings on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/scottsabstractoriginals or at deters.cindy@yahoo.com.

What artist inspires you and why?

My sister is an art teacher and is a huge support to me. She is a wonderful artist and has given me so many opportunities. She encourages me to try new techniques and is a great supporter.

Tim Lefens is an artist based in New Jersey who got us started with the technique that I use now. He was a great help with suggestions and encouragement when we were starting out. He is a fantastic artist, and his art has been shown in galleries in New York and New Jersey.

In honor of International Children's Book Day, here are some notable children’s books authors and illustrators from Illinois:

Duck Rabbit

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Chicago author Amy Krouse Rosenthal was an author of adult and children's books, a short film maker and a radio show host. She published more than 30 children's books and is the only author to have three children’s books to make the Best Children's Books for Family Literacy list in the same year. She had several children’s books on the New York Times bestseller list including "I Wish You More," "Uni the Unicorn," "Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons" and "Duck! Rabbit!," which was read during the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll

Read more ...

March AOM Head ShotHow long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, tell us about it?

I have been an artist for a long time. It’s always been personal to me. I didn’t start selling my work until last year. When I started to paint, the response I got was positive, and people started asking, “How much?” That was a question I never asked myself. But I have never created anything with profit in mind. The passion for me is the freedom I have when I create. It’s always been about freedom.

Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?

Chicago. Walking its streets offers poetry. I was amazed my first time in that city. I am from Rockford, which has a good art scene, but Chicago is a living canvas. The people, colors, language and movement imprinted on me. The state has history. It’s produced leaders and musical geniuses. I gather pieces of what I learn and try to apply it to my work.

What opportunities does Illinois present to local Illinois artists?March AOM Pic 4

The opportunity for an artist is only limited by what can be produced I think. The more I learn and better my skills, not just in paint but in other aspects of art, more opportunities become available. I was not expecting the doors to open the way they did, but I am very grateful.

What do you like about Illinois?

Illinois will always be home, although I could probably do without so much snow. If we could somehow blow some of it towards Wisconsin, that’d be great.

What is your favorite medium to work in?

I’m not sure yet. I have yet to crave something. So far, acrylic painting is what I prefer.

March AOM Pic 1Where can people view or purchase your work?


I have a website at www.mcneelyshaumar.com, or you can always follow me on Facebook.

What artist inspires you and why?


My father is an artist. He has always made me challenge myself. He can do it all too, which makes me want to see how far I can take myself.

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