Paint-Out to Celebrate the Final Bursts of Summer Color at Cantigny Park

This year there is even more color and art to enjoy at Cantigny Park as they celebrate the native flowers of Mexico along with their current display of 49 alebrije sculptures (“monumentals” and “spirit animals“) created by artists from Mexico City.

Mosquiw, by Emanuel Arturo Zarate Ortíz. Photo credit Cantigny.org.

The Park’s Many Stunning Gardens –

The gardens at Cantigny include Display Gardens, a Rose Garden, Rock and Gravel Gardens, a Logarium, a Hosta Garden and an Idea Garden. The Display Gardens alone consist of ten gardens, including a White Garden, Lower Display Garden, Pollinator Garden, Fountain Garden, and Perennial Border. Cantigny’s Natural Areas offer “native wildflowers amid grasses, small wetland areas, and maturing trees—a snapshot reminder of what Illinois used to be.” (cantigny.org)

The Perennial Border at Cantigny Park includes seventy-two varieties of plants, many of which are native to Illinois. Photo credit cantigny.org.

There will be so much to choose from to paint, sketch, or photograph for members of the Nature Artists’ Guild at Cantigny Park as they meet for a paint-out on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 between 9 am and noon. Parking will be free that day, and there is no charge for admission to the park and gardens. Interested members can contact Linn Eldred to be added to the email list for details or updates. Drop-ins are also welcome to attend. There will be plenty of color for all!

Update – 8 x 8 papers, boards, and canvases will be available at this event for participants in the Schulenberg Prairie Anniversary Project to pick up. Interested members should contact Carol Balabanow to request them.

As always, please click on the highlighted links for more information. Cantigny Park has done a wonderful job highlighting their gardens and the exhibit with numerous gorgeous photographs.

Gallery 200 Exhibit Continues Throughout August

A sample of some of the stunning artwork by members of the Nature Artists’ Guild at Gallery 200 in West Chicago throughout August 2022 –

Also coming soon –

Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will demonstrating and talking with visitors about the guild at a table inside the Visitor Center during the Wine and Art Walk at The Morton Arboretum this weekend, August 20 and 21, 2022.

The Wednesday morning Art and Coffee gatherings continue each week at 9 am. All Nature Artists’ Guild members are invited to drop by to share ideas, inspirations, or supplies, or simply relax and enjoy the morning.

The Schulenberg Prairie Anniversary project kicks off with a paint-out at the prairie on Thursday morning, August 25, 2022.

More to come soon about a paint-out at the gardens of Cantigny Park on September 7, 2022 and a Color Pencil on Slate workshop for members on September 24, 2022.

Monarchs and More This Week

Coneflowers, copyright Alice Wych

Participants in this week’s Wednesday Morning Coffee and Art gathering can learn all about butterflies at a staffed interpretive station located just steps away in the Visitor Center of The Morton Arboretum. The August hands-on exhibit focuses exclusively on butterflies and their habitats. All Nature Artists’ Guild members are invited to stop by to chat, sketch, simply enjoy the quiet of the morning, or even begin gathering reference material for the Schulenberg Prairie Anniversary Project.

Also ongoing or coming up –

The Nature Artists’ Guild exhibit at Gallery 200 continues throughout the month of August. More examples of the wonderful artwork included in this exhibit will be coming soon.

Dining on Goldenrod, pastel, copyright Gary Chipman

This weekend, August 20 and 21, 2022, five members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will be demonstrating various methods of creating nature art and answering questions about the guild at a table inside the Visitor Center of The Morton Arboretum during the annual Wine and Art Walk.

Detail of Moth pyrography, copyright Gail Diedrichsen

A project celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Schulenberg Prairie has begun. A paint-out has been scheduled for August 25, 2022, but members who wish to participate in the special exhibit can also choose to begin work on their own at any time. Each piece must be created at or inspired by the Schulenberg Prairie and have a finished size of 8 x 8 inches.

Prairie Mosaic (Ecology is Doxology AP2), Block Print, Copyright Carrie S. Carlson

As always, please click on the highlighted links for more information.

Nature Artists’ Guild Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Schulenberg Prairie

Initially, it may be difficult to understand the lure of the prairie, as it is not known for showy flowers, majestic trees, or rushing streams. Instead, the prairie reveals its peaceful beauty to its visitors slowly and quietly, until eventually, they understand. As traveler and author Eliza Steele wrote in 1840 –

 I started with surprise and delight. I was in the midst of a prairie! A world of grass and flowers stretched around me, . . . We passed whole acres of blossoms, a carpet of every color intermixed, or narrow bands, as if a rainbow had fallen upon the verdant slopes. . .”

October sketchbook pages, copyright Karen Johnson. Karen completed these watercolor sketches at the Schulenberg Prairie in October, 2020.

This year, The Morton Arboretum celebrates the 6oth anniversary of the Schulenberg Prairie. From their website –

Begun in 1962, it now takes in more than 100 acres of restored tallgrass prairie, savanna, and wetland habitats, and has become an inspiration and model for similar restorations.

The first planting took place in 1963, and over the next few years, staff and volunteers planted not only seeds but more than 80,000 seedlings that Schulenberg and his staff had grown. With few other restorations to guide them, they devised techniques as they went along and used different ones in different areas.

Schulenberg attempted to replicate the former prairie—one of the first times such a restoration had ever been tried. He based his plans on what he could learn from the few scraps of tallgrass prairie that remained among the Chicago area’s highways and subdivisions.

Today, the prairie is regarded as a benchmark in the development of ecological restoration in Illinois.

When you wander the prairie paths in summer, you’re surrounded by swaying grasses and tall flowers alive with butterflies, bees, and birds.

The Nature Artists’ Guild is honored to participate in the anniversary celebration by creating artwork inspired by the Schulenberg Prairie for a special display at the Sterling Morton Library this November.

The project will begin with a paint-out at the Schulenberg Prairie on August 25 from 9 am until noon. Participants will be supplied with 8 x 8 artboards or paper to be used at the prairie or taken home to be used in the studio with their sketches, photos, or other sources of inspiration found at the prairie. Interested members can contact Carol Balabanow to be added to the list of participants to be notified with any paint-out updates. (Carol’s email address is in the Nature Artists’ Guild’s Yearbook.)

For members unable to attend the paint-out, the 8 x 8 boards and paper will also be available to be picked up at upcoming workshops and meetings. Members are welcome to use their own surfaces, but the final size must be 8 x 8 inches to fit into the display. No framing will be required by participants. The final works must be created at or inspired by the Schulenberg Prairie.

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.

Update – the Coffee and Art gatherings will return on January 11, 2023.

The casual weekly gatherings of members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will take place on Wednesdays at 9 am adjacent to the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café inside 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.