Little Red Schoolhouse Paint-Out Update

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center has educated and delighted generations of families with live animals, exhibits and self-guided trails.

Forest Preserve District of Cook County
How it might have looked long ago – digitally-aged detail of a current photo from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

On Monday, July 25, 2022, members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will meet for a paint-out at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center from 9 am until noon. This beloved no-longer-little and no-longer-red nature center has grown and now includes a large visitor center with live animals, three unpaved walking trails, and a new paved trail through its expansive accessible garden.

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center visitor center. Photo credit Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

The little red schoolhouse is still there, of course, along with its history and charm. Here is how it actually looks in its current restored and well-maintained state.

Little Red Schoolhouse. Image credit Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Nature Artists’ Guild members who would like to attend the paint-out should email Linn Eldred to be put on the contact list for any updates. There is room for all at the Little Red Schoolhouse!

Notice – this event has been canceled due to insufficient enrollment.

Reminder to all Nature Artists’ Guild members – completed registrations for the Gallery 200 exhibit must be returned (online or postmarked) by tomorrow, Saturday, July 16, 2022. Links to the mail and online registration forms were emailed to all members last Monday.

Welcoming New Members, a Television Appearance, Paint-Out, Exhibits, Program, and More

Porcini and Pinecones, copyright Jane Kellenberger. One of more than fifty works of art featured at the Visions of Nature exhibit at the Hidden Oaks Nature Center.

For those who have long been considering joining the Nature Artists’ Guild or those who have just discovered it and don’t want to wait until the new year to join, there is now a half-year (July through December) membership plan available for new members only. Please click on this link to the Membership page to read more.


Some current and upcoming events –

Suzy Lyttle of the Will County Forest Preserve District was interviewed recently by Naperville Community TV about the upcoming Nature Artists’ Guild exhibit and the reopening of the Hidden Oaks Nature Center. Please click on this link to view the short interview (and some of the artwork.) A reception and open house with light refreshments will take place at Hidden Oaks this evening from 4 until 7.

A Nature Artists’ Guild exhibit at Gallery 200 in West Chicago has been scheduled for the month of August 2022. The prospectus was emailed to members on June 24 and completed prospectuses for participating artists must be returned (postmarked) by Saturday, July 16, 2022.

Members will meet for a paint-out at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center on Monday, July 25, 2022 from 9 am until noon. More about the paint-out coming soon.

A program featuring Laverne Bohlin and her lovely pastels will be open to all, free-of-charge at the Thornhill Education Center of The Morton Arboretum on Thursday, August 4, 2022 at 7 pm.

The Nature Artists’ Guild will have an information table and artist demonstrations inside the Visitor Center of The Morton Arboretum during the Wine and Art Walk the weekend of August 20 and 21, 2022.

Finally, there’s an opportunity every Wednesday at 9 am to enjoy a few hours of chatting, sketching, snacking on delicious muffins, or just relaxing and watching the chipmunks scurry through the flowers at the Coffee and Art Club.

The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer Begin

Summer Memories, pastel, copyright Laverne Bohlin. Click on image for link to Laverne’s website.

The Nature Artists’ Guild has a lot in store, from programs and paint-outs to special exhibits and projects, for the upcoming “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer (Nat King Cole, 1963.)

Members are invited to stop by Ginkgo Restaurant and Café in the Visitor Center of The Morton Arboretum at 9 am for informal weekly gatherings beginning tomorrow, June 1, 2022. These will continue throughout the season. (Timed-entry passes will be required.) Note – time has been updated to 9 am from previously announced 11 am.

The following evening, Thursday, June 2, 2022, the Nature Artists’ Guild will be sponsoring a program (open to all, free of charge) at the Thornhill Education Center of The Morton Arboretum at 7 pm. This annual program will feature three talented members of the guild sharing some of their artistic inspirations, tools, and techniques. (Timed-entry passes are not required.)

Paint-outs will be scheduled as the summer progresses, and special projects and exhibits are being planned for July and August. Award-winning pastel artist (and guild member) Laverne Bohlin will be giving a presentation at the August 4th program and teaching a workshop for the arboretum the following weekend. Many more details coming soon!

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

The Nature Artists’ Guild’s “Coffee Club” Returns for 2022 on Wednesdays at 9 am

Exterior of Ginkgo Restaurant and Café facing Meadow Lake at The Morton Arboretum. Photo credit mortonarb.org.

The casual weekly gatherings of members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will take place on Wednesdays at 9 am outside of the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café in the Visitor Center of The Morton Arboretum.

Members are welcome to stop by any Wednesday to chat with fellow members, share recent artwork, sketch, stitch, sip or snack, or simply gaze out the wall of windows overlooking the areas surrounding the Visitor Center and Meadow Lake as the day unfolds.

Early-risers or members who would like to head outdoors to enjoy one of the stunning gardens, many within easy walking distance of the Visitor Center, can do so before or after the gathering. Perhaps a few participants can get together to choose an area to sketch, paint, or photograph each week.

Members can email Linn Eldred with any questions. Timed-entry passes for The Morton Arboretum will be required.

Note – this post has been updated to reflect the new gathering time of 9 am (formerly listed as 11 am.)

Taking Time for Nature Art

Indigo Bunting 2, copyright Carol Cooley

It is true that it’s one of the busiest times of the year for those who appreciate nature. Nature artists are often also birders, hikers, amblers, gardeners, or travelers, and late spring is a wonderful time to enjoy (as well as sketch, paint, or photograph) those adventures. The Nature Artists’ Guild would like to add just a few more worthwhile activities to fit into those busy schedules in the next few weeks.

Next Wednesday, May 25, 2022, Nature Artists’ Guild members will meet for a paint-out at the Jurica-Suchy Museum from 10 am until noon. Attendance at this paint-out will be limited and not available for drop-ins. Members who have not yet signed up to attend can email Linn Eldred to check for openings.

On Thursday June 2, 2022, beginning at 7 pm, visitors to the Thornhill Education Center of The Morton Arboretum will have the opportunity to watch and interact with three members of the Nature Artists’ Guild as they demonstrate and discuss their artwork. This popular annual program is open to all, free-of-charge.

Please click on any of the highlighted links for more details.

Back to the Bison, Beetles, and Birds at the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum

Photo credit Jane Kellenberger

It’s been a while since members of the Nature Artists’ Guild have been able to attend a paint-out to sketch and photograph some of the thousands of natural history specimens (from the tiniest insects to the largest mammals) on display at the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.

Museum staff have graciously offered to open to fifteen members of the guild on Wednesday, May 25 from 10 am until noon. (The museum will not be open to the public at that time.) Interested members should contact Linn Eldred soon, as many of the spots have already been filled! Linn’s contact information and more details about the paint-out, including required safety precautions, can be found in the recent email sent to all members.

In the Works at the Nature Artists’ Guild

The June 2, 2022 meeting of the Nature Artists’ Guild (open to all, free-of-charge) at 7 pm at the Thornhill Education Center of The Morton Arboretum will feature three guild members sharing their techniques, materials, and talents. This popular annual “Artist Trio” presentation usually takes place in August, but has been moved to June this year so that we can welcome a special guest in August. Much more about the 2022 presenters coming soon!

From former years –


Laverne Bohlin, an award-winning pastel artist (and Nature Artists’ Guild member) who recently moved to New Mexico from the Chicago area will be back in August to teach a workshop at The Morton Arboretum focusing on painting water with pastels. Laverne has generously agreed to share some of her techniques and inspirations at the guild’s August 4, 2022 meeting at 7 pm at the Thornhill Education Center. The August 4 program will be open to all, free-of-charge.

Wetland Sunset II, Pastel, Copyright Laverne Bohlin

There were reports of balmy and beautiful weather at the recent daffodil paint-out and the daffodils responded in a spectacular manner! Paint-outs will be offered throughout the summer, and members are encouraged to keep some of their most portable art supplies and a folding chair ready to go. (Paint-outs will normally be announced at least two weeks ahead of the date, but occasionally a last-minute opportunity comes along.)

From recent paint-out locations –

Daffodil Paint-Out Rescheduled to Saturday, April 23, 2022

April Snow, copyright Ann Lamoureux

The daffodils certainly don’t seem to mind the rain (or even snow), but that kind of weather can make things a little uncomfortable for the nature artist!

Because of the forecast for rain on Friday, the Nature Artists’ Guild paint-out has been re-scheduled to this Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 10 am. Interested members should meet in front of the Thornhill Education Center of The Morton Arboretum with their art supplies, camera, and a folding chair or stool. Members can contact Linn Eldred with any questions.

Please click on this link for The Morton Arboretum’s latest Bloom Report.

Timed-entry passes will be required and may go quickly on this spring weekend.

“A host, of golden daffodils”

Spring flowers, copyright Linda Fairbanks

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

……………………………………

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

……………………………………

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (3-4, 11-12, 23-24)

Members of the Nature Artists Guild are invited to gather at the Thornhill Education Center of The Morton Arboretum at 10 am on Saturday, April 23, 2022 for a paint-out celebrating ‘golden daffodils’ and other early blooms of spring. Interested members should contact Linn Eldred with any questions and to be put on the list to receive weather-related updates. Timed-entry passes will be required.

Note: This post has been updated with the new date.

Meadow Lake Paint-Out on March 23, 2022

Meadow Lake construction, The Morton Arboretum. Photo credit The Morton Arboretum.

Meadow Lake was established in 1959 at The Morton Arboretum when a meadow with boundaries (now shoreline) and plantings dating from the late 1930’s and early 1940’s was excavated and the gravel used to widen a nearby road. The Morton Arboretum’s first director, Clarence Godshalk, wrote in a letter to the Board of Trustees –

The new Meadow Lake has given me more of a thrill in its creation than anything I have done in the Arboretum development… The first thing in the morning and the last thing at night I find great pleasure in looking at this body of water as it grows, now that the lake is being filled.

The Nature Artists’ Guild has scheduled a paint-out at The Morton Arboretum as one way to participate in celebrating their Centennial.

On the morning of Wednesday, March 23, 2022, members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will have early access to the Gingko Restaurant and Cafe in the Visitor Center of The Morton Arboretum to sketch the lovely view of Meadow Lake from 9 until 11 am. Artists are welcome to stay later, but the cafe will open to all visitors at 11. Members can contact Linn Eldred with any questions or to let her know they’d like to attend. To protect the floor of the cafe, oils, acrylics, or other potentially staining art materials are not allowed.

Exterior of Ginkgo Restaurant and Cafe facing Meadow Lake at The Morton Arboretum. Photo credit mortonarb.org.