Rhonda Nass and Scratchboard on Thursday, June 3, 2021

Zinnia Medley #3, scratchboard, copyright Rhonda Nass. Used with permission. Please click on the image to see more of Rhonda’s work.

In just one week, on Thursday, June 3, 2021, beginning at 7 pm, Rhonda Nass will be presenting an online program about using scratchboard to create stunning works of nature art to members of the Nature Artists’ Guild of The Morton Arboretum. Guild members will be receiving an email soon with more information and a link and instructions for participating.

It is a thrill and an honor for the guild to welcome back such a delightful and talented artist and educator. Please click on this link to Rhonda’s website or on the image to see more of her extraordinary work.

Some Spring Artwork from the Nature Artists’ Guild

Whether on a solitary trip to the prairie or while participating in the paint-out at The Morton Arboretum, members of the Nature Artists’ Guild found plenty of spring treasures to sketch last week. Here are some that members have shared (please click on any image for a full version) –

Plein Air in June with Karen Johnson at The Morton Arboretum

Whether or not tomorrow’s Nature Artists’ Guild paint-out goes forward (it’s all up to the weather), there will be many more opportunities for guild members to paint outdoors in the coming months.

For those members who are new to painting outdoors as well as for those who love to but want to learn some new tips for making the best of the experience, the Morton Arboretum is offering an in-person class on painting ‘en plein air‘ with talented and experienced artist and educator (and recent Nature Artists’ Guild Featured Artist) Karen Johnson. Karen has been painting outdoors for years all over the world and one of her latest projects has been sharing the beauty of all the seasons (yes, even winter) in the prairie through her sketchbooks.

Karen Johnson sketching in Sweden

Many artists assume that painting en plein air involves traipsing through the woods lugging large easels and solvents and later trying to get back to the car without smearing or dropping their fresh (and wet) oil paintings. Karen will show that there can be an easier way.

Sketchbook page, copyright Karen A Johnson

From The Morton Arboretum’s listing for Art in Plein Air

Enjoy a creative morning outside with this art class “en plein air” at The Morton Arboretum. Under the guidance of your instructor, capture the landscape, the form of a tree, or the tiny detail of a flower bud. Bring your graphite pencils, colored pencils, pen and ink, watercolors, or other medium of choice, and get tips for building a field kit of art supplies you can easily carry with you on any trip outdoors. Enjoy plenty of time to work independently with the support of your instructor. 

The class is offered on either Saturday, June 12 or Friday, June 18, 2021 from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm. Class size is limited. Enrollment is not limited to members of The Morton Arboretum or the Nature Artists’ Guild, but arboretum members will receive a discounted registration fee.

A Morning at The Morton Arboretum for the Nature Artists’ Guild on May 18, 2021

For Nature Artists’ Guild members who enjoy sketching trees, flowering shrubs, or late wildflowers or bulbs, painting plein-air, or just taking photos, a beautiful morning in May at The Morton Arboretum would create all of those opportunities.

Paint-Out Chair, Linn Eldred, has arranged an outing beginning at 10 am on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 for members of the guild to experience many of the wonders of spring at The Morton Arboretum. Members can let Linn know by this Saturday if they are interested in attending, (Linn’s contact information is in the Nature Artists’ Yearbook or in an email sent to all members on April 27, 2021) and she will reserve group tickets. Last-minute attendees who are also members of the arboretum can reserve their own timed-entry tickets by clicking here.

Participating artists will meet near the front of the Visitor’s Center and spread out from there. It would be beneficial to check the Know Before You Go page from the arboretum’s website before attending.

We look forward to seeing some delightful sketches and paintings on this website after the outing! Participants can share their work by sending images to Denise Fisk, whose contact information will also be found in the Yearbook or in the April 27 member email.

Tulip sketches, copyright Susan Stachovich

Scratchboard with Rhonda Nass, June 3, 2021

The Nature Artists’ Guild is honored and excited to welcome back Rhonda Nass for an online presentation beginning at 7 pm on Thursday, June 3, 2021.

Rhonda has astonished and captivated viewers with her colored pencil and acrylic work for years and has now added scratchboard to her list of media mastered. She is fondly known as a kind and sharing educator and her teaching style helps give students the confidence and inspiration needed to begin their own journey in a new medium.

Please take a moment to follow one of the highlighted links to enjoy images of Rhonda’s stunning work. More about the presentation and instructions for attending will be shared with Nature Artists’ Guild members by email and on this website in the coming weeks.

Abundant Succulents 2, scratchboard, copyright Rhonda Nass. Used with permission.

Seeds of Inspiration Almost Ready to be Sown

Today is the day by which seeds should be mailed by participating members of the Nature Artists’ Guild’s Seeds of Inspiration project. Depending on the type of seeds and whether they will be started indoors, they may need to be planted soon.

From the Chicago Botanic Garden – “If a seed packet says to ‘sow seeds three to four weeks before the last spring frost date,’ count backwards from May 15 and sow the seeds indoors around April 23.”

If some participants are better artists than they are gardeners, there is help available. The Chicago Botanic Garden has a vast amount of information on growing plants from seed, as do many other online resources.

Fine Gardening magazine has numerous helpful articles and videos online, including some on re-using everyday items as seed-starting containers.

Detail of image from Chicago Botanic Garden.

We will be looking forward, along with the participating artists, to a glimpse (through drawings and sketches) of some of the very first sprouts!

Please click on any of the highlighted links or the image for more information.

Spring Begins with Seeds of Inspiration

Spring has begun and so has the Nature Artists’ Guild project, Seeds of Inspiration.  Participants have received the names of their seed-swap recipients and been asked to mail the seeds by April 5, 2021.  The seeds will be planted, tended, and sketched as they grow, and possibly inspire a finished piece of art when the plants reach maturity.  Sketchbooks and artwork will be shared with the group at the August 5 meeting and occasionally on this website in the coming months.

Of course, Nature Artists’ Guild members who did not sign up for the project can still join in by planting some seeds (or seedlings) of their own. Let’s see (and sketch) what grows! 

The Gardens at Ball. Photo credit Jane Kellenberger.

Nature Artists’ Guild Members to Spread Seeds of Inspiration

My Tomatoes and Freda’s Dill, copyright Yvonne Buckley

Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild are invited to spread some Seeds of Inspiration to fellow artists this spring!  Each participant will exchange a packet of seeds with a fellow member and then sow, grow, and show the process or results through their artwork. Sketchbooks tracking growth as well as finished pieces will be shared at the August 5th Nature Artists’ Guild meeting and through images here on this website.

All the details are in an email sent to members on March 6.  Guild members who would like to join in should let Terrie McComb know by this Saturday, March 20, 2021.  Terrie’s contact information can be found in the email or the Nature Artists’ Guild Yearbook.

Dan Danielson’s Fresh, Fluid, and Fun Watercolor Techniques

Fellow Nature Artists’ Guild members may know Dan Danielson as one of the presenters in last August’s online program or from some of the artwork he has shared on this website. (Please click on any image for the title and a full version.)

But Dan has been painting and teaching art since first studying at Chicago’s American Academy of Art. His award-winning artwork and techniques are so vibrant and lively that The Morton Arboretum has asked him to share his talents by teaching an online class this spring, Fresh, Fluid, and Fun Watercolor Techniques.  

Registration is open to all for the four-part online class that begins April 15, 2021. There is no requirement to be a member of the arboretum or the Nature Artists’ Guild to register, but space is limited, so early enrollment is recommended. Please click on one of the highlighted links to the class or Dan’s website to read more.

Ant, copyright Dan Danielson

As Winter Turns to Spring

The Nature Artists’ Guild’s 2021 Winter Encounter wrapped up at the end of February, and here are the final contributions to the project.  Many thanks to all who participated – there have been numerous comments from members mentioning that their fellow artists’ work brought them cheer and a sense of connection throughout the winter.

  • Marlene Vitek painted four panels representing views of the seasons through her tall narrow windows.
  • Jean Black completed a realistic branch of oak leaves.
  • Kathy Belletire used watercolor, pen, and India ink to study a frozen little wren that had nested near her home in southern Illinois in previous years.  On a brighter note, Kathy is hearing a sure sign of spring, the spring peepers peeping!
  • Carol Cooley attended on online class about painting birds in watercolor, where she created tonal studies as well as a color wheel used to practice color mixing and the use of complements to create shadows.
  • Karen Johnson continued her practice of visiting and sketching prairies. On one of her trips to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie she hoped to see some bison, but a small bird turned out to be the featured wildlife of the journal that day.
  • Nancy Wu created a wonderful way to remember the trolls at The Morton Arboretum with her sketch done in sepia ink from a photo taken before the trolls were recently disassembled. She added a dried cup plant and Catalpa tree details to fill out her journal pages.

Please click on any image for a larger version and the artists’ name.