cover of book

The Elemental Prairie: Sixty Tallgrass Plants
illustrated by George Olson
text by John Madson
University of Iowa Press, 2005
eISBN: 978-1-60938-004-5 | Cloth: 978-0-87745-942-2
Library of Congress Classification QK128.O47 2005
Dewey Decimal Classification 581.7440978


“Elemental” is the perfect word to describe George Olson’s watercolor drawings of the plants of the tallgrass prairie. Delicately precise yet filled with vigor and color, they present the prairie in its individual elements and—taken as a group that celebrates the hues and textures of tallgrass wildflowers and grasses—in its seasonal abundance. InThe Elemental Prairie, the combination of George Olson’s luminous drawings and John Madson’s eloquent essay “The Running Country” encourages us to look at the prairie world with newly appreciative eyes.

For some years Olson has focused almost exclusively on the grasses and wildflowers of the North American prairie, meticulously reproducing their elemental structures and colors while—proving once again that art can both imitate and enhance nature—emphasizing their magical loveliness. By painting certain species in their winter and summer “plumages,” he reveals the plants’ stark wintry frame-work as well as their more glorious warm-weather beauty.
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