The Ridges Sanctuary

Preservation, Education, and Research

Natural Science Illustration at The Ridges

Posted on Aug 25, 2016 by Katie Krouse   Comments Off on Natural Science Illustration at The Ridges | Posted in Programs · Uncategorized

The Ridges Sanctuary is a place of unique beauty and incredible diversity of the natural world. It’s the perfect place to observe species like the Showy Lady Slipper, a variety of dragonflies, or one of the many amphibians like the Tiger salamander. The Ridges is also a place of learning. A place where one can develop a better appreciation of the natural world by developing keen observational skills through our new series of scientific illustration classes.

It is why The Ridges is the ideal location to combine science-based natural history classes with scientific illustration workshops into the new The Ridges Natural Science Illustration Program. Each session, students will have the opportunity to observe a variety of flora, insects, and/or amphibians up close and in their natural habitats. Students will also learn how to draw the details found in nature they observe. The combination of scientific illustration and studying The Ridges’ flora and fauna makes it a unique experiential learning experience.

For Beginner or Expert Students: These classes are offered for the beginner illustrator, expert or someone who just wants to learn a little bit more about our natural world. Students can sign up for one day or the two-day sessions. Participants will be responsible for bringing a sketch book, in order to create one’s own portfolio which can be used from one class to the next.


Intro to Flowers

Instructor: Donna Danielson

There is amazing diversity among flowers, but they generally share the same basic parts. Spend a morning studying flower anatomy and learn how flowers function. You will never look at flowers the same again. We will study at least three different plant families.

Saturday, September 3 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Fee: $25 members, $30 public Limit: 16 Level: No experience necessary

Intro to Botanical Illustration

Instructor: Suzanne Wegener

We will spend part of the day with a naturalist observing and collecting specimens and then return to the classroom to draw the details found in nature. Look though a microscope or hand lens and discover the function behind the form. You will work with pencil and add color with colored pencil or watercolor.

Saturday, September 10 & Sunday, September 11 9:00 am – 4:00 pm; both days Fee: 1 Day: $65 members, $80 public 2 Days: $130 members, $160 public Limit: 16 Notes/Special Instructions: Students will need to bring a lunch, portable chair, sketch book, pencils, eraser, and/or any color media they prefer. Level: No experience necessary

Drawing Insects

Instructor: Karen Johnson

Learn to draw insects by studying their anatomy from specimens and observing them in real life. Keep your observations in a sketchbook and learn to really see the world around you. We will work from specimens and live observations. Students can sign up for one day or both. Day 1: Butterflies and Beetles. Day 2: Bees and Dragonflies

Saturday, September 17 & Sunday, September 18 9:00 am – 4:00 pm; both days Fee: 1 Day: $65 members, $80 public 2 Days: $130 members, $160 public Limit: 16 Notes/Special Instructions: Students will need to bring a lunch, portable chair, sketch book, pencils, eraser, and/or any color media they prefer. Level: No experience necessary

register now


Suzanne Wegener – Capturing the details of nature and sparking a curiosity of the natural world is what I hope to accomplish in creating my work. I study botanical specimens, but am especially enchanted by lichens. They are little landscapes with amazing color. Once I find my model I work with watercolor and gouache to build depth on dark backgrounds.

Although trained as a medical illustrator, I was always drawn back to the world of botany. I traded my brush for a computer and worked as the Nature Arts Education Manager for The Morton Arboretum for eleven years. Recently I have moved back to freelance art, teaching and designing workshops full-time.

Karen Johnson is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators (GNSI), and the Nature Artists Guild of the Morton Arboretum. She exhibits regularly with both Guilds and recently had a solo exhibit at the Oak Park Conservatory. She has also exhibited with the American Society of Botanical Artists at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, the Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison, WI and at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.

She has bachelor’s degrees from Iowa State University in biological illustration and entomology, the study of insects. Karen has done the majority of her color work in watercolor, gouache, acrylic and pastel and her black and white work on scratchboard. Her realistic depictions of flowers and insects are done on a variety of backgrounds ranging from plain to abstract. She also utilizes the computer to make her paintings available in cards and calendars.

Karen has done illustration work for a variety of clients including: Iowa State University entomology and veterinary departments, Organic Gardening Magazine, Horticulture Magazine, the University of Illinois Extension Services, Plant Nanny, and Ball Horticultural Company. Her artwork is included in private and corporate collections.

Donna Danielson is fascinated with plants. She is mostly retired from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois where she worked in the plant clinic and plant pathology lab diagnosing plant problems. She has been teaching Botany and Horticulture at the arboretum for 16 years and Horticulture and Entomology at the College of DuPage for four years. She has a degree in Horticulture from College of DuPage and a Masters in Crop Science from the University of Illinois. Her husband no longer gives her flowers for their anniversary since Donna has a tendency to pick them apart and dissect them.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: