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Study for Rhythms, Bean Fields at Sunset

Published onJan 22, 2021
Study for Rhythms, Bean Fields at Sunset

Image © Rose Frantzen. Reproductions of this image are not permitted unless express consent is provided by the artist.

Studies for Rhythms, Bean Fields at Sunset, 2017-18

Rose Frantzen (American, b. 1965)

On loan from the artist.

As part of the preparation process for painting the large mural commission in the Advanced Teaching and Research Building (ATRB) on Iowa State University’s campus, Rose Frantzen spent two growing seasons studying and painting soybean fields across Jackson County, Iowa. The commission was to honor and acknowledge the Soybean Association for their support of the construction of the Advanced Teaching and Research Building, along with the research and teaching endeavors performed within the building.

Painting small plein air studies in the fields, Frantzen explored techniques to represent the rows of soybeans planted on farmer’s properties. She experimented with stencils and polka dots underlain beneath the painted scene, and created 15–20 studies of local landscapes. The deep-looking and concentrated study of the countryside allowed Frantzen to discover the distinctive character of Northeast Iowa. Her understanding is visually present in the painting in how the sunlight interplays with leaves of the soybeans, and the ways in which carefully plowed rows hug the landscape of the Driftless Area that is characteristic of Northeast Iowa. In subsequent editions of the landscape, Frantzen emphasized the roundness of the hills, recalling the stylized depictions of the countryside found in Iowa native Grant Wood’s (American, 1891–1942) paintings.

For the final painting, Frantzen created a written guiding statement for herself, to help inspire an amalgamation of the hundreds of fields she had spent hours studying in the previous two years. The painting captures the essential nature of the region, a testament to Frantzen’s time and effort to understanding what makes this landscape unique. The final painting can be found in the lobby of the Advanced Teaching and Research Building.


Rhythms - Beanfields at Sunset, A conversation with artist Rose Frantzen and her husband Chuck Morris

Study for Rhythms, Bean Fields at Sunset, 2017-18

Rose Frantzen (American, b. 1965)

Oil on canvas

Commissioned by the University Museums. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.



I wonder, as I stand at the crest of a hill, in the song of sunset, with the music of the birds, and the silence of the beans growing, if farmers know they are artists? Drawing with their tractors, designing fields which reveal the rhythms of these Iowa hills, accommodating the waterways, the valley, the trees. The hilltops crescendoing in sunlight, their shadows supporting like the bass keeping time, reminding me with its enveloping movement that yes, yes, yes, you are here, witnessing the end of another day.

-Rose Frantzen, artist statement


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