Gardner’s Paintings Recall a Life Spent in Clark County
by Chad Karnitz, August 27, 1997
Reprinted from the Clark County Press, Neillsville
Take a look at any one of Ella Gardner’s paintings and you’ll see a bit of the artist in each one. Whether it be the painting of the old Granton Opera House, the Amish quilters, or a simple portrait of a vase of flowers, each picture has a story or a connection that relates to her.
Gardner, of rural Marshfield, has been painting, water coloring and using wholesale MLB jerseys pastels to capture her favorite images on canvas, paper and even cardboard, in one case, since the 1960s. “I always liked to paint,” she said. “But I didn’t start painting until 1964 when my youngest son went to college.”
Her first painting, a still-life, was a bouquet of zinnias. Prior to that, her only formal training had been 28 years earlier when she took some summer school classes in commercial art and figure drawing at the Art Institute in Chicago in 1936.
Born in Grant County, the former Ella Haines moved to Clark county as a youngster and grew up on a farm between Neillsville and Granton. She graduated from Granton High School and had her teacher training at Neillsville High School. She taught school at the Kurth School for three years.
She later married Russell Gardner, who taught for twelve years at several Granton-area one-room schools. In 1942, the couple left their teaching careers and bought a farm east cheap NFL jerseys of Granton where they remained as dairy farmers for 41 years. Processor “We were looking for a place to raise our sons,” Gardner Post said of the couple’s decision to leave teaching.
Forty-one years on the farm left Gardner with plenty of things to paint. In fact, rural life comprises most of Gardner’s subject matter. : Granton is also well represented in her body of work. Gardner has paintings of the old depot, the feed mill, the Methodist Church and an action-filled picture of the annual Fall Festival frog jumping contest.
She has many paintings that detail the day-to-day life of the Amish, as well as those that tell the story of her own life on the farm. There’s a painting of the giant log that her husband and sons cut down with a hand saw and hauled away on a horse-drawn sled which she did from memory. Pictures of her children at play, a summer thunderstorm catching her family at work in the hayfield, barnyard still-life, flowers, a farm auction, and the richness of th rural experience are awash in the color of Gardner’s pictures.
Her painting of the Jail Museum in Neillsville caused Gardner to come to Neillsville several times to get the angle just right. It was completed about fifteen years ago.
[In August, 1997] 147 of those pictures were on display at McMillan Library in Wisconsin Rapids. Gardner has also had her work displayed locally at the Neillsville Bank, the First National Bank, the Jail Museum, Neillsville Memorial Hospital, Granton Bank, and Marshfield Clinic. Both the Memorial Hospital and the Granton Bank have allowed her to maintain a running exhibit wherein she can rotate her work.
Although she works in oil, watercolors, acrylic and pastels, Gardner says that often an image or idea will dictate the medium. “Sometimes it seems like a picture will lend itself more to one medium than the other,” she said.
While Gardner occupies herself with painting, her husband keeps busy making frames for all of her paintings. Her yearly output of work measures around fifty paintings, Gardner said.
A member of the Wisconsin Regional Artist’s Association for more than 30 years, Gardner has taken several honors for her paintings. In fact, several of her paintings have been chosen to hang in the Wisconsin Center, an art gallery in Madison. On two occasions her paintings were even picked to hang in the Wisconsin Center, an art gallery in Madison.
Gardner says she would recommend painting to anyone who has an interest because, as she said, it’s relaxing. I’m happiest when I’m painting.
© 1997, Clark County Press