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Paradise in North Wisconsin

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oh, I love my artist friends. Here's Barry Van Dusen studying an open-winged damselfly. He's one of those people who has taken his bird ID skills and simply transferred them to dragonflies, fish, what have you. He's also probably America's top life sketcher. I can't imagine anyone who does it more, or better.
By now we were all up near Minoqua, diggin' the boreal scene.

The only sure antidote for having to lug your 47-lb. suitcase, which is crammed with six pairs of dress shoes and six different outfits, and attending those formal functions and making smileynice all day, is to walk in the woods. The LYWAM staff knows that, so just when we're all smiled and chitchatted out, they throw us on a bus, where we gab and laugh among ourselves for two hours, and we magically arrive in Serenityville, also known as Hazelhurst. Which is the Woodson family estate, which we are most privileged to enjoy for an afternoon.

Upon arriving, we walk through a forest where mysterious artists have gone before us

and one of our number pauses to paint the autumn-tinged landscape. I gave Lars Jonsson a copy of Letters from Eden, with an inscription that I hope helped him understand what his art means to me. It's not often you get to thank people whose vision has changed yours. Here, he's whipping up a nearly-instant landscape while the rest of us are yakking and dawdling along the trail behind him. Hats off.

Barry Van Dusen and Lars Jonsson compare sketchbooks.

Elsewhere, deadly fly amanitas push their buttons up through spongy loam.
We wander through a garden that must be tended by magical fairies to have so much color in mid September...
and catch one of the fairies, a snowberry clearwing, at work.
The garden's beauty, and the intoxicating scent of nicotiana and phlox, set the soul to rest.
Here's where the fairies live when they're not primping the flowers. Can you imagine having a playhouse like this, buried in the north woods?

My sincere thanks to the Woodson family, and to the amazing staff of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, for making all of us artists feel special and thoroughly honored for that magical weekend. Each person on that staff is a gem; together they are unbeatable. Let's face it: most of us artists work in comparative solitude, and with adversity waiting just outside the door in these economic times, life does not exactly roll out the red carpet for us every day. This kind of event, so carefully and thoughtfully planned and executed, is why they call Wisconsin the Heartland.


What a beautiful place! Whenever I see or smell nicotiana alata, I think of my dad, who loved its scent. It's hard to find fragrant annuals these days; the most commonly available nicotianas and petunias seem to have had all the stink bred out of them.
I'm glad you got a chance to commune with your artist peeps. Talk about a fantasy Art Night dream team, living division.

What a beautiful place! Lynne and I were also surprised to see so many flowers blooming in gardens around Wausau. We're heading into our 4th week without any rain here in SE MN and the flowerbeds are looking a little dried out.

Ah Julie, What a wonderful time you and the others had at Birds in Art--I'm eating my heart out here! To spend time like that with others who share the same inerests (and in such a lovely place) How great is that!!!???-Anita

Agree, agree -- if I could sketch like anyone, it would be Van Dusen. Masterful field work. Now, if only you could get that man blogging!

And how completely surreal it must be to hang out with the legendary Mr. Jonsson himself.

How lovely...both the place and your hosts!

Julie - am just catching up with your blog this week. How I love it when you show the art within your art. And you're right - Wisconsin is the Heartland! Hope you have a well deserved rest from all the traveling! - Laura

What a gorgeous place Julie. I can see why the day's respite there was so appreciated and enjoyed.

What an amazing experience! And a real joy to experience this through your eyes.

This link will please you!

You have a nice hummingbird moth, there, Julie! Enjoy art heaven.

You're right! The weekend goes past much too fast. I loved your photographs---particularly of my sister's garden. It's her palette and from February (where she starts her plants in her basement) almost through October she spends hours each day working in the garden. I know she's love to have some fairies to help! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, paintings, and life with all of us.

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