Many people find that the more they get to know wetlands, the more they love them. That’s certainly been true for artist Scott Zupanc, who has spent the last 15 years painting nothing but wetlands.
Zupanc splits his time between Baraboo, Wisconsin, and a bog-filled property in Michigan. But no matter where he is, he spends every day painting wetlands.
Zupanc, a Wisconsin native, got to know wetlands at an early age.
“When I was little, my dad used to take me with when he went duck hunting,” Zupanc said. “He’d dump me on an island and head off to his own spot. I’d just sit there, waiting for the ducks. I became aware of all the stuff going on around me: the movement of cattails, the reflections, spiders migrating on long strings in the sun.”
These early experiences led to a love for wetlands and their unique atmosphere.
“Wetlands are very intimate places,” Zupanc said. “If you get down in them, it’s really hard to see a long ways. You never know what you’re going to see or chase up, or what birds will be there. I like that kind of pace – it’s something I try to recreate in my work.”
Lilypads are an especially compelling subject for Zupanc, who loves the visual and metaphorical quality of their lifecycles.
“Lilypads are at their most beautiful when they’re changing,” he said. “You get these red-violets, blue-violets, yellow-greens. There’s all these colors lilypads go through as they age. There’s a beauty to growing old.”
In addition to capturing the beauty of wetlands, Zupanc hopes his work motivates viewers to protect these beautiful places.
“I try to preserve something that may not be there in the future,” Zupanc said. “We need to be responsible.”
You can check out Zupanc’s work in the images below.
Wetland Coffee Break: Visible and invisible mending: An intersection of art and ecology
From the Director: The art and craft of restoration