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Let Nature Be Your Muse and Inspire Artistic Creation

A program specialist leads a painting program at Rolling Knolls Forest Preserve

Stepping into the natural environment can ignite creative inspiration. The vibrant colors, textures and shapes found in nature, along with the tranquil feelings it evokes, serve as sources of creativity. 

Just ask Katie Moriarty, a program specialist with the Forest Preserves of Cook County. In her role, she works closely with colleagues to coordinate a wide range of art classes (along with programs on hiking, recreation, and native flora and fauna). At Forest Preserves nature centers and other preserves, you can join events encompassing painting and sculpture making, and even nature journaling and working with local artists on natural dyeing classes. 

Artistry has always been an integral part of Katie’s life. She grew up constantly doodling and making things, and she witnessed pieces created by her artist grandmother. In middle school, a teacher recognized Katie’s talent, which inspired her to pursue furthering her studies and culminated with earning a degree in fine arts from Columbia College Chicago. 

Though Katie’s primary focus was painting, she also pursued an arts in healthcare minor, which involved implementing arts programs in healthcare settings—a perfect union that led her to a career with a nature and environmental agency.

“Art is a different way to engage people in nature,” explains Katie. “Drawing is such a great way to connect with nature; and while we’re doing programming, it brings in a different audience who maybe doesn’t necessarily want to go on a hike, but they’d like to come to a painting class.” 

For Katie, connecting nature and art—which she describes as her two favorite things—provides her with a sense of serenity and happiness. She hopes to inspire these same feelings in the individuals who attend art programs in the Forest Preserves.  

This summer, explore your creative side with the Forest Preserves and consider joining one of the many art programs being hosted throughout Cook County. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced artist, there are plenty of options to experience creating art in nature.  

Trailside Museum building in River Forest
Mon, Jan 1 - Sun, Mar 31 • 9 am

Winter Artist Showcase

Trailside Museum of Natural History • River Forest, IL 60305
two children with walking sticks in the snow at Whistler Woods
Fri, Mar 1 • 5:30 pm

Woodworking with Invasives

Thatcher Woods • River Forest, IL 60305
a child looking at an animal at Sand Ridge Nature Center
Wed, Mar 13 • 10 am

Wee Wonders

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center building
Wed, Mar 13 • 10 am

Open Nature Play Day

Dan Ryan Woods Visitor Center • Chicago, IL 60620
open grassland at Orland Grassland
Thu, Mar 14 • 11 am

Nature Hike and Journaling

Orland Grassland • Cook County, IL 60467 (near Orland Park)