Nature Artists’ Guild’s Annual Trip to the Tropics

Detail of photo by Linn Eldred

On Thursday, February 9, 2023, from 7 until 10 am, members of the Nature Artists’ Guild can experience some of the warmth, sights, and scents of the tropics at the annual paint-out at Orchids by Hausermann, one of the world’s oldest and largest growers of orchids.

Paint-out participants will be able to sit and paint or wander and photograph numerous varieties inside the display area of the vast greenhouse before it opens to the public. One participant will be chosen at random to receive a gift certificate for an orchid to take home!

Attendance at the paint-out is limited to the first twelve members to register with Celia Rodee by email or by completing this form. Celia will contact participants with further details and instructions.

Also please note –

  • The weekly Coffee and Art gathering will not take place this Wednesday, January 18, but will return on January 25.

Mr. Morton, Mr. Potter, and the Chauffeur

The wonder we now know as The Morton Arboretum all began when “while touring by automobile in 1909, Joy Morton, his friend E.A. Potter, and their chauffeur jumped from their car to stamp out a grass fire and stumbled upon the spot that captured Joy’s vision for a home, and ultimately his legacy. ” 

Beginning in 1922, Mr. Morton began to establish some of the delights of the original 175 acres of his “museum of trees.” Some of those landmarks still exist in much their original state up to 100 years later – Joy Path, Lake Marmo, and Sargents Glade (now affectionately known as Daffodil Glade.)

Details from previous works by Terrie McComb, Alice Wych, Laverne Bohlin, and Pat Mroczka, cropped to squares to simulate display of four seasons at The Morton Arboretum.

This year, the Nature Artists’ Guild will celebrate “Joy’s Vision” with artwork created throughout the year at these favored locations of Mr. Morton. Similarly to last year’s Schulenberg Prairie Project, members will be asked to create artwork at, or inspired by, Joy Path, Lake Marmo, and Daffodil Glade.

  • Each participating artist may contribute up to four pieces. Some may choose to do one location in all four seasons, others may complete three pieces (one from each location) and some may prefer depicting just one or two locations or seasons.
  • The artwork must be completed on 8 x 8 inch surfaces, which can be obtained free of charge at various paint-outs, programs, or other gatherings throughout the year. Artists can also use their own surfaces as long as they measure 8 x 8 inches and are less than 3/8 inches thick.
  • Paint-outs may be planned in upcoming months at these locations.
  • Finished pieces will be exhibited at the Nature Artists’ Guild’s 2023 Autumn Art Exhibit at The Morton Arboretum.
  • No framing or preregistration is required for participating.

Much more about this celebration of “Joy’s Vision” coming soon, but those who want to include all four seasons should take note that winter is already half over!

Nature Artists’ Guild Bids Farewell to 2022

2022 was a busy year for the Nature Artists’ Guild. In-person paint-outs, programs, gatherings, workshops, exhibits, and even a holiday party returned, and our members were ready for it!

Here is a quick look at some images from events, presenters, and guild members throughout the year. For more information about any of the artists or events, please take a moment to scroll back through the posts of 2022.

The Herbarium – Where the Work of the Botanical Artist Begins

Specimens at The Morton Arboretum’s Herbarium. Photo credit

On Thursday, January 19, 2023, members of the Nature Artists’ Guild will meet in the Cudahy Room of the Administration and Research Center of The Morton Arboretum from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm to study and draw specimens from the Arboretum’s Herbarium.

A Closer Look at the 100-Year-Old Arboretum Herbarium gives the fascinating history of the collection of plant specimens (now numbering in hundreds of thousands) established by Joy Morton in 1922. “Notable samples include dried plants from William Edward Parry’s Arctic expeditions of the 1820s, a hybrid buckeye grown from seed collected by George Washington, and a fern collected by Ernest Hemingway’s father in 1891.”

The paint-out is limited to twelve participants. Interested Nature Artists’ Guild members can reserve a spot by contacting Celia Rodee by email or by completing this form.

P is for Pine, copyright Suzanne Wegener

The Subtle Beauty of Winter Returns

Great Solomon’s Seal, copyright Lynne Railsback

The subtle tones of winter return as the Nature Artists’ Guild prepares for 2023. After celebrating the many moods of the prairie last autumn, members of the guild can now look forward to studying the nuances of local and exotic plants in various phases during the upcoming months.

  • January 2023 will include a paint-in at The Morton Arboretum’s Herbarium, which contains within its more than 200,000 specimens the world’s most complete collection of dried plants from the Chicago region.
  • Wednesday morning Art and Coffee gatherings will return in January with various plants or greenhouse flowers for sketching while sipping.
  • In early February, Lynne Railsback will return with an online program, sharing her stunningly intricate artwork and thoughts about spontaneity and the use of a limited palette.
  • The palette will become more colorful in February at the Nature Artists’ Guild’s annual “trip to the tropics” at Orchids by Hausermann, one of the Midwest’s largest orchid growers.
  • The Guild is honored to co-sponsor a workshop by renowned botanical artist Heeyoung Kim at The Morton Arboretum in March. Guild members will have the opportunity to enroll in the workshop at a discounted fee.

Dates, times, and other details for these and other upcoming events will be shared with members by email and on this website as they become available.

Autumn Art Exhibit of the Nature Artists’ Guild November 11 – 13, 2022

Poster artwork by Featured Artist Alice Wych. Poster design by Jane Kellenberger. Exhibit posters and postcards are available to pick up between 9 and 4 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at the Thornhill Education Center. Members are encouraged to share with local businesses, family and friends.

The 2022 Autumn Art Exhibit of the Nature Artists’ Guild at The Morton Arboretum will showcase more than 150 pieces by approximately 50 members, including numerous works by Featured Artist Alice Wych.

Nature Artists’ Guild members’ small works celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Schulenberg Prairie will be also be displayed at the adjacent Sterling Morton Library during exhibit hours.

In addition to viewing the exhibit artwork, visitors will be able to purchase original artwork on slate, buy tickets for raffle items, and interact with artists who will be demonstrating their techniques. More details to come about the 2022 Autumn Art exhibit.

Also coming up –

A paint-out next Wednesday, October 19, 2022 at Lake Marmo of The Morton Arboretum will take place between 9 am and noon. Interested members can contact Linn Eldred for details and to be added to her email list for updates.

Sterling Pond, Autumn, copyright Dale Olsen

No pre-registration is necessary to participate in the exhibit celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Schulenberg Prairie. Details for participating were recently emailed to Nature Artists’ Guild members.

Prairie artwork, copyright Marlene Vitek (first two) and Maggie Mardis.

Even though the October 19th Coffee and Art will be cancelled so that members can attend the Lake Marmo paint-out, the gatherings will return the following Wednesday. Recent weeks have focused on fantastic feathers, but the next few will feature, of course, lovely leaves.

Colors of Fall, copyright Mary Ann Jimenez

The Morton Arboretum Photographic Society is also celebrating the Schulenberg Prairie’s anniversary with Seasons of the Schulenberg. The exhibit at the Sterling Morton Library ends on October 16, but the stunning images will soon be available for viewing on their website.

Even more –

  • The last day for members to submit photos or articles for the Winter Quarterly is November 1, 2022. Images of winter-related artwork can be sent to Jane Kellenberger.
  • The Nature Artists’ Guild’s Holiday Party with raffles, food, and fun will be on the evening of Thursday, December 1, 2022 at the Thornhill Education Center. Members will receive an invitation by email with all the details.
  • Next January’s special exhibit at the Downers Grove Library will have an earlier drop-off date of December 17, 2022 this year. A prospectus and all the details will be emailed to members.

We See You Autumn! Paint-Out at Lake Marmo on October 19, 2022

Autumn, Sterling Pond, copyright Dale Olsen

Nature Artists’ Guild members have been so busy preparing for exhibits, attending programs and workshops, and focusing on the prairie that they may not have noticed the annual changing-of-the-colors sneaking in! Well, the trees are now doing their best to capture everyone’s attention and the Nature Artists’ Guild has taken note.

A paint-out has been scheduled for the morning of Wednesday, October 19, 2022 from 9 until noon at Lake Marmo, located in The Morton Arboretum for all members of the Nature Artists’ Guild. Lake Marmo is known for it’s springtime reflections of the redbuds lining its shores, but autumn brings it’s own warmer colors to the scene with reflections of yellow, gold, and red contrasting with and accentuating the vivid blue of the lake.

Members can participate in this paint-out by contacting Linn Eldred (by email or by clicking here) to be added to the email list for details about the meeting spot and weather related updates.

Colors of Fall, copyright Mary Ann Jimenez

Note that the Wednesday morning Coffee and Art gathering will not take place on October 19th.

Coming Soon for the Nature Artists’ Guild

Garden at Cantigny Park. Photo credit Jane Kellenberger.

This Wednesday, September 7, 2022, the Nature Artists’ Guild’s paint-out at the gardens of Cantigny Park will take place from 9 am until noon. While members are encouraged to let Linn Eldred know they are attending, drop-ins are also welcome. The gardens and grounds at Cantigny Park are always wonderful and this year there is the added bonus of an exhibit of colorful large-scale sculptures by artists from Mexico City. Parking and admission will be free.

(Boards, canvases, or papers for the Schulenberg Praire anniversary project will be available at this paint-out if a request is made in advance to Carol Balabanow.)

Note – The weekly Art and Coffee gathering will not take place on this date.

Also coming soon –

On September 24, 2022 from 10 to 2, members can attend a volunteer workshop at the Thornhill Education Center of The Morton Arboretum to learn how to create artwork using color pencils on slate tiles. The tiles will be sold at the upcoming Autumn Art Exhibit at The Morton Arboretum with proceeds benefitting the guild. Tiles will be provided, but participants are asked to bring a few other supplies (details are in the August 3rd email sent to members.)

On October 6, 2022 at 7 pm, Artist and Illustrator Kelley Cappell will share some of her experiences, inspirations, and techniques with the audience at the Thornhill Education Center. This program will be open to the public, free of charge. More about Kelley and her art coming soon.

October 10, 2022 will be the final date for members of the Nature Artists’ Guild to mail their completed prospectuses for participating in the Autumn Art Exhibit at The Morton Arboretum in November. The link to the prospectus was emailed to all members on August 31. Much more about the exhibit and the Featured Artist, Alice Wych, to come.

Nature Artists’ Guild members who would like to participate in the Schulenberg Prairie anniversary project can still pick up an 8 x 8 canvas, board, or paper at any of the in-person guild events (including by request at the Cantigny paint-out and excluding the Wednesday Coffee and Art gatherings.) Members can also use their own surface, but the final artwork must be exactly 8 x 8 inches (and less than approximately a half inch deep) to fit into the display. Questions about the project can be emailed to Carol Balabanow.

Butterflies Fluttering Away

Branch of West Indian Cherry with Achilles Morpho Butterfly, Maria Sibylla Sylvan 1702-03. Image credit Royal Collection Trust.

Members of the Nature Artists’ Guild can drop by this Wednesday, August 31, 2022 beginning at 9 am in the Visitor Center of The Morton Arboretum for the weekly gathering to sketch, paint, draw, chat, or simply take in the beauty of a quiet summer morning surrounded by plants, butterflies, and birds.

This will be the final week for the butterfly interpretive station staffed by arboretum volunteers. To enhance their exhibit, the volunteers have included some beautifully illustrated books featuring the artwork of Maria Sibylla Merian, a noted German artist and entomologist who set sail to South America in 1699. Next month’s interpretive exhibit will focus on bees.

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

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.” (

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

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.