A passion for gardens and art
In her little studio next to a corn field in the small village of Mahomet, Ill., Marla Beyer creates artwork with hopes of bringing smiles to others. Though her dream growing up was to have a large studio full of windows on a secluded prairie, Marla’s dreams have changed — and she feels quite blessed that her art business has provided her with an outlet for creativity and some supplemental income.
Marla is an artist whose designs are inspired by nature and her love of gardens, hence the name of her business — Beyer Garden Studio. Starting a business wasn’t what Marla set out to do — she was simply given an opportunity — one that she did not see at first.
“God has given us many surprises, and I believe this is one of them,” Marla said.
Discovering the Dream
Marla and her husband Korbin, both Sabetha natives, have lived in Mahomet for almost five years. They began their married life in Sabetha, where all four of their children were born. Seven years ago, Marla gave birth to twin sons, Ezekiel and Elijah.
With two other children at home already — Samantha and Zackery — the Beyer family dynamics shifted dramatically after the birth of the twins and took an even larger shift when the Beyers discovered their twins were born deaf.
“I had to shift my energy into just surviving and caring for the basic needs of the new challenges,” Marla said.
At age one, the twins had cochlear implants, and the Beyers entered a demanding new journey of appointments, surgeries and therapy. Eventually, the Beyers picked up their family and moved to Mahomet, just outside Champaign-Urbana, so the twins could attend Carle Auditory Oral School.
“Over the next few years, my zest for life and paints dried up,” Marla said.
In her daydreams, however, Marla held onto her dream of creating until she felt as if she would explode if she couldn’t fulfill some of her old passions. A former employer and friend encouraged Marla to “just paint again.”
So she painted, and explode she did.
“I did explode — into a vibrant, thankful, colorful, creative and playful artist again!” she said.
Finding her Niche
Marla’s primary mediums are ink and acrylic, and she likes to paint unique gift items like coasters, vases, tropical leaves and Christmas ornaments.
But alcohol ink painting is her favorite and has become her niche. Marla describes herself as an alcohol ink artist, and enjoys combining her passion for gardens with the vibrant challenge of this brushless medium. She likes to bring the “garden party” indoors.
“It [alcohol ink painting] is very therapeutic, challenging to me and a relatively new medium that I feel like has become my niche,” she said.
Marla first saw alcohol inks when perusing Pinterest for Christmas gift ideas. After a first attempt using them, Marla says she became an “ink alcoholic.”
Working quickly with rubbing alcohol on glossy tiles, the ink “meanders” and blends in both expected an often surprising combinations of design and colors, she said.
“I began to experiment and soon realized that many of the things I was doing, I couldn’t find anyone else doing,” she said.
Marla craves originality and enjoys the challenge to keep finding new and different styles and ways to compliment the uniqueness of the inks.
“They [alcohol inks] are very therapeutic and humbling because they flow and mix and I can’t replicate things I’ve done in the past,” she said.
Marla follows the lead of the inks, adjusting her ideas to “go with the flow.”
“I think that is why I’m so attracted to them,” she said. “It’s the way my life has been, and letting God take the lead and not trying to fight against His plan is where my most beautiful moments are.”
She loves and dreams of color combinations and is intrigued by the emotional qualities colors can spark.
“Inks are very vibrant, pure and energetic and are very stimulating to work with and look at,” she said.
Besides ink painting, Marla also enjoys painting with more subdued acrylics and recognizes that they are usually more practical in home decor.
“I have evolved into a more abstract artist and tend to like to put the flair of color into my paintings but I think that is in part to my new energy and joy of life,” she said. “So it’s important to me to continue to share those rays of light, so to speak, with my audience as much as I can.”
When considering what to paint, Marla tries to find a balance of what is fun, trendy and different — yet something that will ultimately sell and bring “happy thoughts” to others.
“It’s really important to me to be original,” she said. “I am starting to paint in purposed color schemes so that multiple pieces will coordinate with each other, such as on a gallery wall.”
Since having the twins, Marla’s first paid project was a 36-painting pet art project for a veterinarian in California. Since then, she has had steady requests for custom pet paintings from new and old acquaintances.
“It’s a creative outlet for me to sell art both in a small local floral shop in Mahomet and in some online stores,” Marla said. “It’s also a way for me to share my journey and hopefully inspire others with fun and fine art.”
Marla’s ability to paint at home, maintain flexible hours and takes summers off to be with her children is priceless.
“Moving away from family means we don’t have a huge support for our busy family, so I have to be available for them,” she said. “It’s amazing how few hours I get to actually work.”
One of Marla’s greatest joys is working with clients to create something that they can be excited about.
“Something that I didn’t expect that I am really appreciative for are the many kind messages I get from all over the world from people that see my art on fineartamerica.com,” Marla said. “It’s exciting to think that I can spread a smile to so many through my little studio next to a corn field in Illinois.”
Marla’s original business goal was to sell enough to buy new paints for her “therapy,” but she is thankful that her art is becoming a small business that can hopefully create income and remain at home.
Her goals now are to create what the customer wants and to create what she wants so that she can keep fresh ideas alive and hopefully find new niches that customers will want, too. Along with those goals, Marla also hopes to create art and gifts for and that give back to the deaf and those who help support her children.
Starting a business is time-consuming and hard work, and Marla’s initial concern when beginning was that her family was on board and supportive. This is still her goal and her family reassured her this past summer that she should keep painting.
“Right now, that is my biggest success!” she said.
But a big highlight for Marla was winning two Editor’s Picks last spring in a West Elm artist contest/collaboration with Minted.
“I entered to get feedback from other artists and was completely flabbergasted to hear the winning news,” she said.
As a result of this, Marla now has two prints currently being sold exclusively at West Elm.
Marla had a knack for creating beauty from “nothing,” said her mother, Dar Stoller.
“Along with the creative mind came plenty of messes!” Dar said. “She was a pretty tiny tot when she could draw people and animals that actually looked like they were supposed to, which shocked me — who can only draw stick men.”
Marla was an introvert and used a lot of her time and energy creating beauty in place of socializing.
Over the years, Marla has grown as an artist, Dar said.
“She observes trends and artwork that is on the cutting edge and adding her own touches, creative ideas, color combinations, texture and style,” Dar said. “The results are pieces of creation never discovered, meaning it’s interesting to see ‘new’ concepts become popular when it’s something she’s done years ago.”
In the past few years, Marla has used her many talents to bless her acquaintances and friends with her talents, by creating craft projects for Vacation Bible School and Sunday School classes, and beautiful meals and home decor. Additionally, Marla created a garden “full of beauty and character surprises” for her twins’ auditory oral school.
“She has ‘outlets’ for some of those ideas flowing through her brain,” Dar said.
Dar still enjoys the large, beautiful murals that Marla painted on the walls in the basement of her parents’ home.
“The olive branches and olive wreath that are painted onto our walls quietly say, ‘this is our home,’” Dar said.
When she was a student at Sabetha High School, Marla learned many art mediums from art instructor Connie Herbster.
“I was blessed to have Connie Herbster for many years as my art teacher,” Marla said.
“Needless to say, she has learned so much more (since SHS) through college classes and practicing the arts,” Connie said. “Her artwork is much more mature and advanced.”
Connie described Marla as being a self-motivator and willing learner.
“She has endless creativity and drive,” Connie said. “She has found herself as an artist and a style and favored mediums.”
While Marla was in Connie’s art classes, she learned about color, color-mixing, color schemes and manipulation of color.
“But she’s learned much more about it since then,” Connie said. “It is obvious in her work. Learning a medium is practice and feel. It’s learning about color that is the key and applying that knowledge to all colored mediums.”
Connie frequently has people ask her to teach them oils or watercolor. She says what they are really wanting is an understanding about color — how to see it, break it down and create it.
“Once you know that, you can experiment with any color combination,” Connie said. “I am so proud of Marla and her success with her art. She has become every art teacher’s dream — someone who continues on and continues to grow as an artist.”
One of the most important lessons Marla has learned on her journey is that God opens and closes door when the time is right.
“I wasn’t specifically looking for this job at this time and had concluded that maybe my new path should be solely helping those families with hearing loss, even though it is emotionally draining to go back through the memories and absolutely not my natural gift to pay attention to the details that a therapist and teacher of the deaf does,” she said.
Marla is still open to how God wants to use our experiences, but is beginning to realize that she may be able to help in a different, more unique and indirect way — with art.
“I have lots of inspirations for ideas still sketched in a journal, but am trying to take this all in stride with family life and being intentional with my few business hours each week,” she said. “I keep telling myself that it’s okay to not do everything at once and hopefully, I’ll have a long life ahead to fulfill many more of my artistic goals.”
Marla’s biggest source of inspiration is understanding how God has made her and how using her gifts makes her feel fulfilled.
“Watching our kids thrive and grow — which has a direct correlation to our budget — inspires me to push through the business end of painting to make it profitable,” she said.
Marla also is thankful to all those who have supported her art with their incomes.
“I am also inspired by natural landscapes and well-designed gardens, color combinations, fresh lemonade and those dedicated people who help deaf kids learn to thrive,” she said.
In Marla’s fineartamerica.com artist statement, she states, “Although my mixed drinks only consist of cream in coffee and fruit purees in lemonade, I am a self-diagnosed ‘alcoholic’ who enjoys every happy hour I can get alone with a few bottles of alcohol ink. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy responsibly.”
Both Marla and her husband Korbin are Sabetha natives. Marla is the daughter of Darlene and Arden Stoller.
Her husband is the son of Martin and Karen Beyer. Korbin is the plant controller at Hearthside Food Solutions.
The Beyers have four children — Samantha (high school freshman), Zackery (seventh grade) and Ezekiel and Elijah (second grade).
In past seasons, Marla has been a mural painter, floral designer and gardener at a botanical garden. She has a degree in landscape design from Kansas State University, and took many art classes while at KSU.
“All of my jobs have taken a twist toward painting and design, so I’ve had a lot of experience painting murals in many states and many custom commissions of all types over the years,” she said.
For more information about Beyer Garden Studio or other art by Marla, visit her Facebook page Beyer Garden Studio and follow her on Instagram at @marlabeyerart.
You also can contact her via email at email@example.com.
Marla’s artwork is currently sold at fineartamerica.com/profiles/marla-beyer.html, West Elm (“shibori dreams” and “geode royale”) and will soon be available at minted.com.
For any pet commission artwork, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Krista Wasinger71 Posts
Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and four children.