Category Archives: sketching class

Sketch Class Results Blackwell Forest Preserves


This is Silver Lake at the beautiful Blackwell Forest Preserves in Warrenville, IL. To celebrate nature and soak in all the serene sensations it provides, a few of us met here to create. Just mere pigment, paper, and water, but oh so much more to the artist who connects with nature!


And connect we did. Together, but yet each in our own world when painting.


Note to self: Must get a recliner like this one!


I love when members work with their own preferred media. Charcoal is challenging because you are using one color. It really makes you concentrate on different values. Great exercise.


Imbedded in each our own translation, but together a gorgeous representation of Blackwell.


A close up of my finished sketch. I am so thankful for this blessing and the ability to share with others.


We made time for a hike up the hill and when we reached the top we could see all across the land.


As far as the eye could see, we counted 17 village water towers. Many butterflies competed for our attention as we stood with one hand shielding our eyes, trying to see miles away. But the butterflies were whispering, “Right here. We’re right here, look down!”

I hope you enjoyed this little get a way to Blackwell. Maybe you can set aside some time this weekend for your own little celebration with nature?


Sketch Class Results Hammel Woods

20130707_groupJan, Catherine, Christine, Donna, Debby, Alanna (front)

My MeetUp group: Chicagoland Sketchbook Hikers, meets all over the place. That’s the goal, especially since the Chicago area (you might not realize) has a ton of preserved land which is a refuge, an oasis, shall we say for souls like ourselves that need to connect with nature.


Last Sunday we met at Hammel Woods in Shorewood, IL. A short distance from the parking lot, we reach a section of the DuPage River and set up camp.


Some were comfortable sitting…


Alanna likes to stand…


And some of us just like the good old ground!


Whichever way was comfortable was good enough for us and produced the most amazing pieces of art!!!

Even though this day was rather warm and super humid, it was worth it. And now we will remember it forever in our sketchbooks. ❤


Here is a close up. Notice everything is not detailed, just certain spots here and there. This is an important idea in sketching, quick, not complicated, and loose.

Go ahead, escape to your oasis and try this yourself!

Sketch Class Results Lyman Woods Downers Grove

This month, at the suggestion of a sketch group member, we decided to meet at Lyman Woods in Downer’s Grove, IL, for our sketchbook MeetUp class.

What a tiny gem! And crawling with springtime woodland wildflowers right now!


Prairie Trillium


Lily of the Valley


And my favorite…Jack in the Pulpit!
Amongst the beautiful, there was decay as well…..such is the nature of nature…


A dead skunk lying right in the middle of the trail. Poor fellow. We did not see any puncture wounds but we dared not touch it as he did have a smell about him!


The group found many photo worthy shots and took advantage. But now it is time to get to work! Chop chop!


Gene and Celeste

Everybody found a spot suitable to their liking. The wetlands of Lyman Woods is impossible to pass up. It was calling to us. Not only was the landscape beyond words, but hundreds of swallows zipped to and fro having lunch in the sky above the marsh.



Some stood, some sat, it didn’t much matter how we accomplished our tast…our task to be students of nature.


Donna and Jan

The bench made a perfect spot to lay out all of the supplies!

We braved the conditions as long as we could. It was cloudy in the morning, with a persistent biting wind. Here is the work in progress….



The groups work in progress.

Sometimes it is just wise to finish at home than to provoke a harsh cold wind.


Here is my final. I wanted to capture at least one tree swallow swooping in the air, flashing his bright white belly at me!

We had a wonderful visit to Lyman Woods. I can’t wait for our next adventure on the road!

Sketch Class Results Lake Katherine March 2013

We gather to cleanse ourselves from a stressful week by sketching nature. To be fully present in this moment, under the sun, in full view of the wildlife, and to slowly breath in the crisp air, is no small event. These few hours are precious as we collect the images of this day in our mind, to sustain us through yet another stressful week…


This month’s sketch class was held at Lake Katherine. After walking around the lake in search for Mr. And Mrs. Swan couple (we did find them), we chose this location of a peaceful red bench under a group of pines.

photo by Alanna.

Some of us decided to use the rocks as our desk.

photo by Alanna.

While others relaxed at the edge of the lake.

photo by Alanna.
(Alanna, Christine, Connie, Jan, and Becky {Donna not shown})

Which ever way was comfortable, we all came to same conclusion…beautiful artwork inspired by nature.

photo by Alanna.

Here is a closer look at our terrific souvenirs. Our objective is not to critique the artwork, but to just enjoy the process together.


This is a close up of my watercolor and black Micron pen sketch. I decided to add Mr. Swan even though he wasn’t in my view…he had his own agenda for the day!


We did catch him though, along with his partner and the mallard clan. I look forward to the cygnet (baby swans) in the future that this couple will bring forth.


photo by Alanna.

And NO sketch class would be complete without a hike! We decided to take the trail right under Harlem Ave and walk along the Cal-Sag river. Even though it is stillllllllll in the 30’s (hello? where is spring btw?), there was no wind and the sun did warm us up!

If you are in the Chicago area and would like to join us, click here for the MeetUp site link.

I hope you enjoyed our sketching and hiking adventures!

Blind Sketch Location, Great Event Fullersburg Woods

As a Meet-Up organizer to the Chicagoland Sketchbook Hikers group, I can schedule sketch class where ever and when ever I want, but the best part of the deal is that members can suggest a location all on their own to the Meet-Up site and create a future event.

Exciting because it is a place I’ve never been before, but a little nerve racking because it’s a place I’ve never been before, and as the sketch teacher I have no idea what we are going to sketch until I get there!


Well, this wonderful Meet-Up event suggested by Celeste, was a great idea. The group met at the nature center where we decided how brave we were, to sketch from inside or to hike and sketch outside. We were brave cookies and decided to take a chance by hiking to this lovely shelter on a tiny island at Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, IL.


Photo by Alanna (Christine, Donna, Jan, Alanna)

Now it was freezing, so all we could do was make a quick graphite outline and finish with color later inside the nature center. Freezing but well worth it as we had a splendid short hike to the island while discussing our love for art and nature.


We jotted down colors to remember and finished inside. These lovely sketches were done my Jan, Donna, and Alanna.


This is my sketch which I was able to scan in for better viewing.


Photo by Alanna (Alanna, Christine, Donna, Jan)

Here are our wonderful nature sketchers that braved the mean Chicago weather, to appreciate nature and take a piece home with them too!

Check out the Meet-Up site, if you are in the Chicago area maybe you would like to join?