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

Sharing Joys of Spring

Nature Artists’ Guild members have been busy gathering and sharing some of the joys of spring through their art! Here are a few examples of their spring artwork –

Spring Journal Pages, copyright Kathy Belletire
Maple Keys, copyright Lisa Kanellos

Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild are encouraged to share their artwork on this website throughout the season. Images from spring sketchbooks as well as finished pieces are all welcome. If a piece is from a paint-out (coming soon) or the Seeds of Inspiration project, please make a note of that when submitting. Images can be e-mailed to Denise Fisk, whose contact information is in the guild’s Yearbook.

Redbuds in Bloom

The redbuds (Cercis canadensis ) are in full bloom in northern Illinois, so it is time for nature artists to find a few and sketch a sketch, draw a drawing, paint a painting, or simply take some reference photos before the pinks and purples disappear.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you – the flowers of the redbud tree were magenta last week, are bright pink this week, and will be turning lavender in another week or so. Be sure to make some color notes!

The redbuds of Lake Marmo at The Morton Arboretum are always gorgeous this time of year, but these native Illinois trees can also be found in forests preserves and front yards across the area.

Here are a few images from Nature Artists’ Guild members over the past few years for inspiration –

Nature Artists’ Guild members are invited to send images of their recent spring flora and fauna artwork to share on this website in upcoming weeks. Images should be sent to Denise Fisk, whose email address can be found in the guild’s Yearbook.

Spring Color is Back

We usually associate color reports with autumn, but spring displays some delightful color as well. The next few weeks will deliver peak spring color and an opportunity for nature artists to go outdoors to enjoy it.

The Morton Arboretum issues a weekly Bloom Report, currently highlighting the magnificent displays of the magnolias and daffodils. Things change so quickly in the spring that it’s good to check frequently for the latest.

The spring ephemerals are putting on a beautiful show, but they’ll disappear soon, not to return until next spring. Local forest preserves and The Morton Arboretum are great places to find them, but some, such as violets or spring beauties, are known to show up right in the back yard.

Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will hopefully take some time in the next few weeks to record some of the wonders of spring and share their artwork on this website. Details for sharing images will be sent to members in an upcoming email.

For extra inspiration, here are a few contributions from recent years (please click on any image for the title and artist’s name) –

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