About Bluff Strokes

Explore Dubuque.  Create.  Have Fun.



Foster and support Dubuque as an “arts community” by providing high quality art workshops and plein air painting events which attract artists from the community, region, and nationwide.



  • Attract artists to Dubuque; introduce them to the area and its resources; ensure they have a fun and inspiring visit.

  • Establish Dubuque as an artist destination for working and learning.

  • Support area artists in developing their skills.

  • Strengthen the Dubuque market for purchased art.

  • Offer arts programs for underserved youth and adults.



Bluff Strokes was founded by Wes Heitzman in 2014 under its original name “Mississippi River Art Workshops.”  The organization would take advantage Dubuque’s unique resources to attract the large and growing group of artists who travel, take workshops, and participate in paint outs and other art events.  Initial goals were to conduct painting workshops and launch a Dubuque plein air paint out, with an eye to expanding in the future to other art forms and events.  The group was formed as an Affiliate of the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society, a 501C3 which serves as the non-profit umbrella for a several local arts groups.


Bluff Strokes Committee

  • Wes Heitzman, Chair

  • Karen Cavanagh, Treasurer

  • Betsy Badger, Secretary

  • Tasha Lippold, Marketing Chair

  • Jillayne Pinchuk, Paint Out Chair

  • Morgan Kohlwes, Registrar

  • Sue Davis

  • Dawn Eikamp

  • Paul Opperman

  • Deb Otto


Timeline/Key Events

Nov 2014       Mississippi River Art Workshops founded under Dubuque County Fine Arts Society.

Jun 2015        First plein air workshop; John Preston, “Painting the Mississippi Plein Air.”

Oct 2016        First Urban Sketching Workshop; Kathleen Newmann, "Urban Sketching in Dubuque."  Collaboration with Dubuque Heritage Works.

Oct 2016        First Bluff Strokes Plein Air Paint Out; Jillayne Pinchuk, Chair.

Jun 2017        Plein Air Painters of Dubuque (PPODS) launched out of summer workshop; Donna McIntyre, Barbara Heitzman, organizers.

May 2018       Mississippi River Art Workshops name changed to Bluff Strokes.

June 2018      First outreach projects launched at Dubuque Food Pantry and Boys/Girls Club.



Clarke University – Bluff Strokes does not have a brick and mortar home.  Clarke has graciously provided their art studio for Bluff Strokes workshops.