Deb Larson ArtDeb Larson, Visual Artist
Rusty Heron Studio
794 Highland Highway Avenue
Ortonville, MN  56278

Education and work history:I studied a year of fine arts at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut when I was 19, but being unclear on how I would make a living with art at that time, I took a break and entered into the workforce, eventually completing a degree in psychology. I worked with families in personal crisis as a contracted Family-based Services Provider for LQP Family Services. At that same time, I was the Director of the LQP Mentor Program that focused on children with special needs. I was honored to work directly with these youth as their 4-H club leader, a club formed specifically to meet their needs. While I found working with children and their parents gratifying, I also felt a strong pull to explore my original calling to pursue art. I continue to have an interest in working with children and adults by providing quality hands-on art experiences.

Life after school:
My work space, Rusty Heron Studio, is in my basement and shares space with my office and a small family room.  I have plenty of room to work on several projects at a time and leave both acrylics and oils out and ready. I feel very lucky to be able to explore and practice my craft and share my talents with others. I also continue to take college level art classes through the U of M Split Rock Program.
So, here I am after two years of studio art at the U of M, Morris, where I began to actually acknowledge myself as an artist. While I learned much about art history, sculpting, drawing, print-making, paper-making and book-making, I find that it is the act of laying down paint that I am most drawn to. I have been like a kid in a candy-store…always asking myself “which medium should I work with next?”

Often I depict nature’s energy by pushing local colors to a more vivid, saturated state with oils and/or acrylics as in ‘Past Re-visited’, ‘Welcome Distraction’, ‘His Canvas’, and ‘Taking Flight’. Other times I have pulled back to an almost de-saturated state to drive home a state of mind as in ‘Life Goes on’ and still…there are times when I am compelled to try and imitate what nature depicts so effortlessly as in ‘A Special Place’, ‘Boggy Harbor’, and ‘Quiet Morning’.

So far, I have taken short forays into the world of fiber arts, adding unexpected texture to my painting with loosely woven cloth as in ‘His Canvas’ or combining painted fabric, pattern and texture with hand and machine stitching as in ‘Pale Imitation’. I look forward to doing more of that, I am just waiting for the right image to come to me.

In the meantime, I have also been dabbling with relief/texture as in ‘Winter’s Will’ and layering mixed-media as in ‘Stop In Sometime’, ‘Be My Guest’ and ‘Autumn’s Gift’. I have been happier with some results more than others, but I remind myself that those growing pains are part of learning and growing as an artist, and an essential part of the journey in finding my own voice in my art.

Looking at my body of work up to this point, one would think that I am a nature painter. I seem to paint landscapes that occasionally include water, birds, boats, lighthouses or people. But, to me…it’s not so much about the subject but the opportunity to push images beyond their obvious potential with color combinations, shapes and texture.

I have two paintings going at this time…one is of a photo of a sailboat on Big Stone Lake taken by Kathy Marihart (I plan to paint this twice.). The second is a painting of my two boys on the couch together. I have a keen interest in snapshot portraits of people that are obviously ‘together’ by their close proximity and body language, but lost in their own thoughts. Again, this is not about painting a pretty picture but an opportunity to intrigue the viewer with unlikely choices in technique and color.

ü Some of my paintings are available for purchase

ü All of my paintings are available as Giclee Canvas-wrap prints or in smaller artist paper prints.

ü You can reach me at or via studio phone 839-7084 to order prints or discuss commissions.


  • Currently, ‘Just A Snowball’s-Throw Away” displayed in ‘Winter-theme’ Group show – Java Jule’s Bistro & Coffeehouse
  • Currently, several pieces displayed in Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance art gallery in Morris, MN
  • 2010 Arts Meander at Java Jule’s Bistro and Coffeehouse, returning in 2011
  • 2010 Horizontal Grandeur Artist, Steven’s County Historical Museum
  • 2010 Group show – Java Jule’s Bistro
  • 2009 – two pieces displayed in Big Stone County Courthouse

Other community pursuits:

  • Big Stone County representative for Southwest Mn Arts and Humanities Council (SMAHC). My goal is to help bring funding to our county for artists, arts events, public art, schools, and community arts education, to ensure people of all ages are able to experience and be inspired by high quality art – here in our own backyard.
  • Big Stone Arts Council – Secretary
  • Arts & Cultural Center Initiative Leader, where artists and arts appreciators will be given a place to experience the arts in all disciplines and visitors can celebrate their heritage through many forms of arts and crafts.
  • Painting OHS backdrops for high school plays
  • Leading/Participating in community art projects like…

ü Youth Bike Path Mural Project – Family Fun Day 2010

  • Winter 2010 I lead an evening figure drawing class hosted by the OHS Community Education program.

ü Also taught figure drawing from a live model and portrait drawing as a visiting artist in OHS.

  • Winter 2009 I organized and participated in sketching opportunities at Northridge Nursing Home. Fall 2008 I lead a paper-making class hosted by the OHS Community Ed program.

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