Textured Mixed Media Paintings on Manitowish Waters Birch Bark

Since the late 1940s, Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin and the Manitowish chain-of-lakes have been a welcoming summer home for the Jefferson family. The lakes and shoreline offer crystal clear waters, soaring eagles, mysterious loons, menacing Musky, towering pines and an abundance of wildflowers and birch trees. All these spectacles are enhanced by the wonderful aroma of wood smoke drifting through the air.


Inspired by this magnificent vista and the many applications for birch bark used by local artisans and early Native Americans in the region, Jack Jefferson developed the concept for the texturized relief paintings on birch bark you see here.  The now treasured bark is found near the many stacks of firewood surrounding their cabin during his family's summer visits. It is salvaged from the stacks; therefore no live birch trees are impacted. The process for preparing the bark pieces as a surface for the paintings requires many steps. Once the surface is prepared, a combination of rigid material, acrylic gels and oil paint are applied to the surface to create the paintings.


“As I have become more intimate with this series of textured mixed media paintings on birch bark, I have been artistically challenged to extend the organic nature of the birch bark surface into the paintings themselves, with the ultimate goal of creating an image that is truly alive. This has resulted in the increase in the dimensional element of the work and further development of an organic pallet. This painting is by far my most challenging undertaking in this series to-date, measuring nearly 30” in length, hence the title “Great Falls”. J.Jefferson