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Adult Opportunities

Writing and Art Nature Retreat

Spend a day immersed in nature with guided writing and art workshops.

Content Detail

Set aside time to disconnect from the day-to-day and focus on connecting with the natural world through writing and art. Throughout this one-day art and writing retreat, participants will explore nature journaling, sketching, and creative writing skills under the guidance of professional writers and artists. Take in the sights and sounds of The Morton Arboretum, and explore nature with fellow creatives. Appropriate for all levels, this retreat will help you grow your connection to nature through writing and art, no matter your starting point.

Sessions include:

Paying Attention through Words with Cindy Crosby

“So much of our life passes in a comfortable blur…” so writes the poet Diane Ackerman. How do we pay attention to our lives? One way to do so is to pay attention to the places we find ourselves. In this session, discover ideas to help you closely observe the natural world, and then practice putting your impressions into words. Try out various writing forms that will help you think in new ways about your exterior and interior landscapes. Listen as Cindy shares the voices of diverse writers you may enjoy and learn from. Leave with ideas on how to continue your writing practice.

Nature Speaks with Kristy Belton

Author and collage artist Kristy A. Belton will guide participants through an outdoor adventure where clouds reveal worlds, beetles carry clues, and tree bark whispers to be touched. Participants will be guided via prompts to notice that which yearns to speak to them from nature. They will then translate these words into a unique collage piece.

Nature Journaling with Carrie Carlson

Artistic nature journaling is the mindful practice of connecting with nature by using all your senses, making and recording observations through art, and being curious. What better way to expand your enjoyment of nature! Participants in this workshop will

  • use words, pictures, and numbers to document the natural world around us.
  • discuss tools, materials, and resources for journaling.
  • explore prompts that will sharpen observation skills.
  • practice basic drawing skills.
  • learn to appreciate even the smallest details nature has to offer.

This program meets in person at the Arboretum.

Instructors: Cindy Crosby, author and naturalist; Carrie Carlson, artist; Kristy Belton, nature and wellness educator

Age: 16 and older

Course number: A096

Cindy Crosby, author

Cindy Crosby is the author, compiler, or contributor to more than 20 books, including The Tallgrass Prairie: An Introduction, co-author of Tallgrass Conversations: In Search of the Prairie Spirit and author of Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural and Cultural History (Northwestern University Press, 2020). She is a prairie steward at the Schulenberg Prairie and Nachusa Grasslands, and she coordinates dragonfly monitoring programs at both sites. She earned a masters degree in natural resources at University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. She blogs each week at Tuesdays in the Tallgrass, and she teaches natural history and trains naturalists in the Chicago region. Find out more on her website.

Carrie Carlson, artist

Carrie Carlson earned an MFA in scientific illustration at the University of Michigan and an MA in printmaking from Governors State University. She is a full-time high school art teacher. In her free time, she loves to fill up travel sketchbooks and grow a rowdy garden.

Kristy Belton, founder, Prairie Pathways

Kristy A. Belton is a certified Association of Nature and Forest Therapy guide, a native plants enthusiast, and an Illinois Master Naturalist. She loves engaging in earth-centered practices, whether through gardening, volunteering for the DuPage Forest Preserves, or guiding people in forest therapy and outdoor yoga practices. She is the founder of Prairie Pathways, an organization that offers rewilding practices to reconnect people to the land they live upon. Belton holds a PhD in political science and has more than twenty years’ experience in higher education, serving in diverse roles. Learn more at the Prairie Pathways website.

What to Know

This program meets indoors and outdoors. Check the forecast and dress for the weather.

Bring a lunch and water bottle.

Bring a journal, notebook, or sketchpad, and something to write with. If you have art supplies for colored pencil or watercolor, feel free to bring them. Supplies will also be provided for use during the workshop.

Bring a sit pad, blanket, or camp chair for outdoor sessions.

Check in is at 8:00 a.m., and the program will begin at 8:15 a.m.

Program Schedule

Saturday, August 5, 2023, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Founder’s Room, Thornhill Education Center


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