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An Artist with Many Skills – And a Touch of Zany

Feb 27, 2014

A western Illinois artist and retired teacher continues to inspire others with her hard work, attention to detail, and sense of humor.

“She takes what is a standard approach to something and then is not afraid to add a little touch of being zany,” said Nita Johnson of Carthage about her friend and former neighbor, Pat Hobbs.

Pat Hobbs with her latest quilt. She said it takes six months to complete a quilt.
Credit Rich Egger

In addition, Hobbs is not afraid to experiment with many different mediums. Several of them can be seen in the current exhibit, “Images on Cloth and Paper: Patricia Hobbs.” It is on display at the West Central Illinois Arts Center, 25 East Side Square in Macomb, through Saturday, March 8.

Hobbs taught for three decades, first at Nauvoo-Colusa High School and later at Edison Junior High School in Macomb.

“I hope I’ve shared ideas and instructed so that they’re interested in art. I don’t know how many thousands of students I’ve had because everybody that came through the Macomb school system had to take art whether they wanted to or not,” Hobbs said with a laugh.

This quilt and these water color paintings remain on display through March 8 at the West Central Illinois Arts Center
Credit Rich Egger

One of her students in Macomb was Kelley Quinn, who’s also enjoyed some success as an artist. Quinn always knew she wanted to be an artist and credits Hobbs with introducing her to every style and medium imaginable.

“I had only really explored drawing and the teachers I had encouraged drawing. But she opened up everything else and she had no fear of trying something she’d never pushed herself into before,” said Quinn.

“She’s always a breath of fresh air.  She was always a joy to have as a teacher. She’d make you feel good. You could relax. And it was always an adventure in color in class.”

The current exhibit in Macomb is an example of that “adventure in color.”  The quilts, water colors, and handmade dolls fill the arts center with a burst of color and wondrous images.

Hobbs started painting with water colors out of necessity.

The image on the genealogy quilt at the lower right is inspired by Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte.
Credit Rich Egger

“I’ve done a lot of water color only because I taught art for 34 years and I didn’t have time wait for things to dry. Water color can be a faster medium. And that’s what I plan my quilts and some of the things on. I do water colors of the ideas,” she said.

Her current passion is fiber art and she hopes to be accepted into this year’s American Quilter’s Society show and contest in Paducah, Kentucky. She is a past award winner in that huge, national show.

She is also a winner in Nita Johnson’s book.  Johnson recalls that years ago she wanted to give antique Santa dolls to her children but couldn’t find enough of them.

“So she (Hobbs) started making maybe four or five for me each Christmas to give to my kids. And that lasted for about three or four years. So they have a variety of really interesting and unusual Santas,” said Johnson.

Another eye-catching quilt and more fascinating water colors.
Credit Rich Egger

Hobbs has also illustrated books and she painted a mural in the Hancock County courthouse that depicts scenes from the county’s history.

Johnson is amazed by everything Hobbs has accomplished.

“She just keeps going. She just keeps extending her interests and her talents,” said Johnson, who added it’s unusual to meet someone so talented who is also so down-to-earth.