By Kirsten Nguyen, The Whetstone
Josh Nobling carefully chooses the details of every line and shadow.
Masks of different creatures hang above his desk where he carefully paints a picture of Dr. James Wilson, Chair of Nobling’s department.
“I find him to be an interesting individual, an impressive scholar, and a brilliant musician,” he said.
The office is filled with drawings, paintings, and sketches of creatures with precise details: to the right of his desk hangs a sketch of a man with thorns on his face.
“Stuff I like to see are monsters and demonic things,” he said. “I love Halloween and horror films.”
Nobling didn’t start as an artist. He used his instinct for detail in the kitchen studying culinary, spending 17 hours a day preparing food and working to perfect it.
While attending Eastern Iowa Community College from 2004-2007 in the culinary arts program, he worked as an apprentice at John Deere’s world headquarters.
“I basically walked through an art museum every day when I worked in the kitchen,” he said.
The 7-level John Deere Headquarters had works of art hanging throughout.
Nobling also met his wife, Brandye, while attending school.
“When I first met my wife she worked at a bar that I played guitar at,” he said.
After meeting his wife, he realized what he wanted to do.
“I realized I was passionate about art, not making the food, but the art that was around me on the walls,” Nobling said.
They enrolled at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where he studied drawing and painting. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2010.
He began working on his master’s degree at the University of Delaware.
“We just said let’s go for it because it’s better than staying in the same state forever,” Nobling said.
Once he graduated two years later, he began looking and applying for jobs, one of which was at Wesley.
Nobling has been at Wesley since the fall of 2012 and has taught many art classes, including printmaking, sculpture, painting, drawing, and a mural class.
“I knew I wanted to teach since I was in undergrad,” he said.
Wesley freshman Anthony Calcutta took Nobling’s first year seminar, “In the Mood for Art.”
“He was one of the best teachers I have ever had,” Calcutta said. “He was honest about everyone’s work and listed other ideas on how to improve.”
Sophomore Kayla Johnson said she enjoyed taking a drawing class from Nobling.
“He’s motivated me to become a better artist and person,” she said.
Nobling said he enjoys teaching and helping students to learn to appreciate their artwork.
“I think being creative is important in any capacity because it’s an outlet,” he said. “It has therapeutic properties.”
At the end of the semester some students don’t take their artwork that they’ve completed.
“I don’t throw it away, I keep it,” Nobling said. “People don’t always see the value in the work they do.”
Nobling also creates art in the community.
“I do things in the community like making murals at the Air Force Base,” he said.
His most recent project is a mural for the Kirkwood & Division Streets Park in Dover, a part of the city’s restoration of the downtown area. Nobling and other students will begin painting the mural in Longwood and will transfer it to the park, where it will be mounted.
Outside of class, Nobling also creates art. He recently drew album covers for a band in Tennessee called The Whistles and the Bells.
“I just finished 11 illustrations for their album, which will be released April 18,” he said.
He said the covers were some of the toughest projects he has recently worked on because he had to go back and forth with the band, recreating multiple cover artwork to reflect their ideas.
When he’s not working, he spends time at home.
“I hang out with my wife and two dogs,” he said.
His two pugs are 10 and 11 and fight for his attention.
Nobling has two tattoos, one on each forearm. On his left he has a hand with lines inside, and on the right a shape with many points resembling a star. On the star, he adds another design each year for each year he has been married to Brandye. The other tattoo also represents his marriage.
“I drew her hand and just traced lines inside of it,” he said. “I didn’t count the lines till one day standing in line at the bank. There’s ten and we’ve been together for ten years.”
Nobling hopes that eventually he and his wife will end up teaching at the same college.
He enjoys being a professor at Wesley.
“That’s one place you can do whatever you want, allow yourself creative freedom and expression,” he said.