Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen (Artist-in-Residence, 1992)

An artist's painting
"Isle Royale", 15” x 35” oil on canvas, 1992

NPS/Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen


Isle Royale Reflection

June 17

"Finally after eight days of blue skies and sunshine, a thunderstorm shook the cabin during the night. It rained so hard, water leaked through the cabin roof... It's nine o'clock and the waves on the lake must be 10 feet tall. It's cold, rainy, and very windy. I asked for it. I got it, but now I don't know if I want it... The lake is very impressive now, white caps everywhere, waves crashing into rocks, places where I was standing yesterday are now under water. I went out and did three paintings during the storm, weighing my easel down with rocks."

June 22

"I canoed to one of the small islands in Tobin Harbor to paint moose antlers. After about an hour of painting, with a quiet breeze blowing through the firs and loons calling in the distance, I heard a noisy munching sound and steps coming from behind. I froze and slowly turned around. Just a few yards from me a cow moose was casually plodding along, munching vegetation. My heart was pounding like crazy! I watched her for several minutes. Then the moose looked right at me, twisting and turning her ears like an antennae. She began to stomp her foot, then quickly turned and trotted into the woods. I followed her to the edge of the trees. I could hear her, but couldn't see her anymore, the vegetation was too thick."

June 26

"Paintings are hanging everywhere. At the end of each day, I would take the finished canvases off the stretcher bars and tack them to the cabin wall to dry. In the evening before dark, I'd stretch the next day's canvases, brush them with a base or background paint, lay out paint tubes, and clean and sort my brushes... The solitude of this place is the most appealing thing about Isle Royale. I have never painted uninterrupted that much in my life. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and a challenge to transfer such overpowering landscapes to canvas."

-Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, 1992

Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen

About the Artist

Gijsbert "Nick" van Frankenhuyzen was an Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence from June 9th to June 27th, 1992. Born in the Netherlands, he studied graphic design at the Royal Academy of the Arts in Arnhem, and immigrated to the United States in 1976. In 1993, after 17 years as the art director for Michigan Natural Resources Magazine, he ventured out on his own as an artist working on murals throughout Michigan, including exhibits at Font Mackinac and Fort Michilimackinac. He has been widely published as an illustrator and his work can be found in Owls of North America, The Best of Wildlife Art I and II, and The Birds of Michigan, among other books. He also illustrated The Legend of Sleeping Bear, Michigan’s Official State Children’s book, as well as The Legend of Mackinac Island.

He was the illustrator on Mario Cuomo’s children’s book titled The Blue Spruce. He started illustrating children’s books in 1998 and has done a total of 34 books. He teaches painting classes and travels to schools throughout the state. His painting of wood storks in the 1999 Leigh Yawkey Woodson Birds in Art Exhibition marked his twelfth inclusion in the international competition. He retired from book illustration in 2018 to spend more time on painting just for himself. When he is not painting, he works on his 40 acres of woods, prairies, wetlands and trails, all of which is protected by a conservation easement with the Mid – Michigan Land Conservancy. Learn more about Gijsbert on his personal webpage.

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Last updated: December 26, 2019

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