Tribute to a Treasured Tool

The New York Times Magazine recently published a short photo essay about the manufacturing process of pencils.  Don’t let the seemingly technical title, Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories, fool you – the photos and prose are a love letter to one of our oldest and most versatile tools.  At first glance, the photography will grab your attention and you might be tempted to skim through the text.  While doing so, you may come across a few phrases that convince you to go back to the beginning and savor the words.  For more tributes from artists and writers, visit the comments sections (use the “Readers Picks” option for some of the best).  You may never look at a pencil the same way again.

From The New York Times Magazine, “Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories”. Photo by Christopher Payne. Please click on photo or one of the highlighted links for full article.

An Antidote For Holiday Stress -Your Favorite Tree

Find your favorite tree.  There is one, whether you realize it or not.  It may be on a trail where you regularly walk your dog, it may be in your neighbor’s front yard, or it may be in your own.  The Morton Arboretum has plenty to choose from.  If you need to, spend a day or two thinking about it while you go about your business, until you recognize which tree you keep coming back to. This tree may be a majestic oak, a stately pine, a smooth-trunked beech or even a delicate redbud.  It doesn’t even matter if you know the species.  Just for now, or possibly for always, it is your favorite tree.

Now, take a photo or draw a sketch (from the warmth of your car or home if you’d like).  If safely possible, go up to the tree and feel the bark.  If there are any leaves, fruits or nuts left on or around the tree, pick some up to examine.  Take a dried leaf with you.  Leave the fruits, nuts or seeds for the critters or the next generation of trees.  If you’re not shy or if nobody is looking, go ahead and give the tree a quick hug, or maybe just a friendly pat.  If you have children with you, encourage them to give the tree a great big hug.  They won’t care whether anyone is watching or not.

Go back to your warm studio or kitchen table, pour yourself a hot drink and draw your tree using your memory, sketches or photos.  For an additional challenge, try drawing in ink, which will force you to really concentrate on the size, shape and direction of the branches and twigs.  The drawing doesn’t need to be a masterpiece, or even good. It is just a show of appreciation for your favorite tree.

Feel the stress melt away.  Repeat as necessary.

Tree drawing, copyright Nancy Halliday. Nancy was the Featured Artist at the Nature Artists’ Guild Spring 2015 Exhibition of Natural History Art.  Please click on the image for more about Nancy.

Nature Artists’ Guild members can read a short article in their Quarterly by Evelyn Grala  for more about drawing trees.  Thanks for reminding us about the beauty of trees in winter, Evelyn!

All Artists Welcome on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8, 2017

Whether you are a Nature Artists’ Guild member who has been working diligently to prepare your artwork for the upcoming Spring Exhibit and need a fun and educational break, or not a member, but still an artist who wants to improve your artwork, The Morton Arboretum’s Visiting Artist Series may have just what you were looking for –

Visiting Artist Series: Value and Color in Landscapes with Laverne Bohlin

Learn why value is essential to accurately capturing a landscape in your art. In this two-day pastel workshop, visiting artist Laverne Bohlin will show you how to use the correct value and to notice the subtle shifts of value that exist in the landscape. Develop your sensitivity to a color’s value so you are better able to separate it from its hue. During the one-hour lunch break on Saturday, visit the Nature Artists’ Guild Spring Exhibit in nearby Cudahy Auditorium for some inspiration.

Copyright Laverne Bohlin

Note – Basic drawing skills and some pastel experience required.  Limit 15.

Supplies – Rembrandt Pastels, half stick of 15 colors, 3-4 sheets of Canson Mi-teintes paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, color white, ivory or eggshell, 1″ foam brush and kneaded eraser, 11″ x 14″ foam core board, any additional pastels you may already have.

Schedule and Location – Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8, 2017, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Herbarium Conference Room of The Morton Arboretum.

Fees and Admission – Fees include admission to the Arboretum and are $138.00 for members, and $162.00 for non-members.

Registration Information – Course number A149, online – Registercall 630-719-2468, or in person at The Morton Arboretum at the Visitor Center during open hours.

Before You Begin Shopping

Whew! The cooking, cleaning and dishes are done and the guests have left.

This might be a great time to take a minute for yourself, and renew your Nature Artists’ Guild membership for 2017!  The Nature Artists’ Guild accepts renewals and new members any day of the year, but memberships are for the calendar year, so renewing (or joining) now will ensure that you receive all of the benefits that your membership brings.

Current members can pay their 2017 dues by mailing a check to our Treasurer, Nancy Wu (her address will be in the Nature Artists’ Guild Yearbook).  Nancy will also be accepting renewal dues at the Holiday Party.  New members are asked to mail a check to the address printed on the membership brochure (click here or on the tab at the top of the website to download or print a copy).

Nature Artists' Guild Membership Brochure Page 1

Nature Artists' Guild Membership Brochure Page 2

A Few More Things We Are Thankful For

It’s the time of the year when many reflect on all they are grateful for, and the Nature Artists’ Guild would like to add a few items for consideration –

  • The friends and family who support our artistic endeavors
  • The time (however little) and space (however small) for creating
  • The support and encouragement of other artists who understand the unique challenges involved
  • The time and effort of all the volunteers who have kept the Nature Artists’ Guild running so smoothly for so many years
  • The Morton Arboretum, for its inspiring natural beauty as well as for providing historic and lovely meeting and exhibit spaces and a quality learning environment

Please feel free to add to the list in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to give your turkey a nod of respect!

Detail of Wild Turkey, copyright D. Fisk

Detail of Wild Turkey, copyright D. Fisk (this is for you, Gail)