Grinnell Artists: Rose Mary Pirkle


Eleanor Hedges Duroy

Rose Mary Pirkle decorates every one of her art pieces by hand, using a painted dot technique stylized in a mandala pattern.

Ashley Baek, Staff Writer

If you find yourself at the Grinnell Farmers Market, chances are you will see local artist Rose Mary Pirkle’s vibrant artwork. Pirkle sells a variety of creations, from mix-matched and premade concrete mushrooms to key chains and vinyl records. However, all of her works have one thing in common: she decorates every one of them by hand, using a painted dot technique stylized in a mandala pattern. 

Pirkle said that she fell in love with art as a hobby years ago. She started with coloring books and was encouraged by her loved ones to continue pursuing art. Eventually, she began to work on molding and painting rocks with her signature designs. 

Pirkle created her stand four years ago, along with a public Facebook group called Rose’s Art Stand to post updates and photos of her artwork. Her booth at the Grinnell Farmers Market followed, initially selling granola bars and then expanding to sell her creations. Pirkle sells throughout Iowa, including in Grinnell, Newton and Marshalltown. 

“I had my hand in the farmers market a lot before selling my artwork. I used to make granola bars and sell them there. The farmers market is a great … opportunity for me.” 

Pirkle is proud of everything she makes, and you can find a wide array of her work on Thursdays and Saturdays at the Grinnell Farmers Market. Of her best-sellers, she says, “The turtles are always a huge hit! I create all these little creatures on my own.”

Pirkle hand-makes every part of her artwork. The process can take a significant amount of time from the initial design stages to waiting hours for the concrete and individual paint layers to dry. She uses cement and molds — such as hearts, mushrooms and turtles — to create the bases for her artwork. After the cement dries, she uses acrylic paint to decorate them. The initial layer is a bonding layer to cover the hardened cement. On top of that, she paints colorful designs using a concentric, layered dot technique.

Pirkle finds inspiration from online sources such as YouTube and Pinterest, but her favorite way to gain creative insight is from talking with local customers. She said that she prides herself on creating artwork based on customer requests and collaborating on color combinations, designs and patterns.