Ellen Anderson: Artist in Residence at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve
September 18, 2023 | Topics: featured artist
The Natural Realm presents Ellen Anderson, who is among 12 artists participating in a year-long residency program called ARTservancy, a collaboration between Gallery 224 in Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, River Revitalization Foundation, Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy, Tall Pines Conservancy, and Lake Michigan Bird Observatory. The mission of ARTservancy is to promote the visionary work of both the artists and conservationists. Each artist has selected a preserve to spend time in and to engage with.
Forest Beach Migratory Preserve was one of my first points of reference to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) and their wonderful work when I moved to this area eight years ago. Their vision statement: Inspiring people to engage with nature by ensuring that habitats, working lands, and water resources are conserved, connected and resilient. Forest Beach is a former long-time golf course of 116 acres, acquired by OWLT and happily given over to nature. The magic of growth—from golf greens to meadows, from highly groomed trees to wild wonder—is happening for the benefit of not only migratory birds, but the many other animals that now call this area home. I have found hope in watching this happen over the past seven years; given the chance, nature will right itself.
For my creative pairing with the Preserve for this year, I am painting some of the plants and animals that choose to be here or pass through. I have painted natural subjects for many years, but not with a photographic reference. In order to pinpoint the artworks to the park, as I hike I take photos to use as starting points for my paintings. It is a meditation to paint a tree, with its attendant vines, neighboring fields and intricate branching. It is a year of pleasure to do these paintings through the changing seasons. I add the animals I have either seen in the Preserve, or seen evidence of. A goal is to inspire others to get out in nature and share the wonder of the large and small aspects of how we are all part of this fragile, beautiful planet, in spiritual and physical aspects.
I recommend a hike at easily accessible Forest Beach Migratory Preserve for a restoring hour or two. Also, check out the remarkable work of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, who have acquired many preserves you can explore.
I paint in my studio on the Milwaukee River in Mequon, Wisconsin. The preservation of our local wild areas is important as the planet struggles with human destruction and disruption of healthy forests, wetlands and wild spaces. I work to invite a closer look at the miracle and fragility of woodlands, wild creatures and waters of Wisconsin. Using light and atmosphere to tell a story, the paintings often show a myth-like reality of a time and place of importance and power that only nature lends.
Painting in watercolor/gouache for many years informs the often-thin layers of atmosphere the oils start with. Painting small for illustrations has led me to now love painting large, to put a voice to the magic and majesty of our outdoors.
- Bachelors of Fine Arts from Rockford University, Rockford IL
- Represented by Woodwalk Gallery, Egg Harbor, WI
- President of Cedarburg Artists Guild 2021, 2022 Board Member, 8 years
- Active in solo and group gallery shows nationwide
- Illustrator of 15 published children’s books, including a series on acceptance and understanding, for Penfield Children’s Center, funded by Kohl’s Corporation; The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering by Sharon Mehdi, about women causing peace on Earth; Dachshund stories by local author Barbara Behm and more
- Owner, nationally sold greetings line 1992-2005; 250,000 cards sold annually
This residency is sponsored by OWLT. To learn more about Forest Beach Migratory Preserve go to our Find-a-Park page.
This is the latest in our series of featured artists, which is intended to showcase the work of photographers, artists, writers and other creative individuals in our community whose subjects or themes relate in some broad sense to nature, urban nature, people in nature, etc. To see a list of previously featured artists, click here. The work of the 2022-2023 ARTservancy artists in residence is currently being exhibited monthly at Gallery 224. To meet the other ARTservancy artists in residence, click here.
All images courtesy of the artist, except as noted. The featured photo at the top of Ellen Anderson walking a prairie trail is by Eddee Daniel. Ozaukee Washington Land Trust is a project partner of A Wealth of Nature.