Adult Opportunities

Art in Plein Air: The Prairie Large and Small

Experience the joy of drawing and painting outdoors on the historic Schulenburg Prairie.

Content Detail

Create a prairie drawing or painting in this intermediate art class at The Morton Arboretum. The Schulenburg Prairie is a sea of color in the summer months, with native grasses and flowers in full bloom. This class will explore the broad, sweeping landscape, and engage in an up-close study of the prairie’s elements. With a mix of classroom and field time, students will learn to compose and create images of these inspiring surroundings. The instructor will

  • share principles of scene selection, simplification, and process in creating landscapes.
  • invite participants to find a still life in nature by zooming in on a single coneflower or the trunk of an oak in its natural context.
  • demonstrate various drawing and painting media.
  • provide one-on-one guidance as students complete their own drawing or painting.

Students will develop a drawing or painting using the medium of their choice. Over the course of the program, the close observation of the landscape will reveal the subtle ways the prairie changes from week to week.

This program is open to any drawing or painting media and is appropriate for intermediate to experienced artists. Foundational drawing skills and familiarity with your medium of choice is required. Spend time in nature while actively creating some beauty of your own.

This program meets in person at the Arboretum.

Instructor: John Fleck, artist

Age: 16 and older

Course number: A189

John Fleck, artist

John Fleck is an artist and teacher based in Skokie. His past career was as an illustrator for children’s educational publishing. Now he focuses on fine art through drawing, painting, and teaching. He received his BFA from Columbia College in Chicago in 2001. He is primarily inspired by the natural world in his artwork and enjoys wandering in the woods, fields, or along the lakeshore, looking for a weathered tree full of character, a unique view, or a light effect that fascinates him. He works in oils, acrylics, gouache, pen and ink, and various drawing media. He can often be found at The Art Institute of Chicago or The Field Museum of Natural History, sketchbook in hand. His travels around the Midwest and to places such as Oregon and Maine have inspired many of his works. He exhibits in the Chicago area.

What to Know

Bring a portable chair and your drawing or painting supplies.

Bring water.

Held mostly outdoors, with some classroom time. The field location has a covered area that provides shade.

Portable restrooms available.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and bring sun and insect protection.

Program Schedule

Wednesday, July 12, 2023, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Thornhill Education Center


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