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While pastel has defined much of Kelley’s career as an illustrator, monotype and oil on canvas are prominent in this calendar collection.

A desire for variety to some extent drove media selection, says Kelley, but subject matter often steered decisions.

Monotype enables the ghost prints that lend emotion to Shiloh Suite and impart background music in From the New World.

The medium lends an ethereal look to Buxton Wonders, a work celebrating one Iowa town’s brief but remarkable existence (and providing the calendar’s bonus month).

In his oil paintings Kelley plays more with abstraction, incorporating geometric and organic shapes that in isolation are elusive but when assembled define the subject — the stylized bull in Great White Hunter, the highlighted book in Prairie Girl.

Here, too, he sometimes introduces vertical panels (Inner Circle), sometimes visual metaphors (Boy Wonder), and even illogical composition (Greatest Show on Earth, top).

Highlighted dates in the new calendar mark not only births and battles but also defining episodes, unscrupulous acts, humanitarian efforts, and inspirational leadership.

These are the people and experiences that have touched and shaped who we are as Iowans — sometimes from the outside in (a Czech in Spillville), sometimes from the inside out (an Iowan in Paris), and sometimes blurring the state’s borders (a Native American straddling the Mississippi, hobos convening in but ever movin’ on from Britt).

Kelley’s yearlong Iowa journey explores not so much place as essence: not where we live, but who we are.

Order the 2013 limited-edition fine art calendar Brilliant and Subtle — Iowa Esoterica.

Beth Wilson can’t get over the greatest fact on Earth — that she shares her birth state with the Ringling Brothers. In her own circus, she juggles the editorial demands of a little bimonthly called The Iowan.

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