Frankfort resident Richard Schmidt's travels have inspired him to create dozens of nature-themed paintings that will be on display during the month of August at Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township.
Hours for the free, all-ages "Richard Schmidt Art Exhibition" are: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesdays-Saturdays; noon-4 p.m., Sundays; closed Mondays.
Schmidt won the Forest Preserve's inaugural juried art show in the spring.
“We knew we wanted to see more from him so we invited him back as a featured artist,” said Suzy Lyttle, an interpretive naturalist with the Forest Preserve.
The exhibit consists of 25 oil paintings that reflect the beauty Schmidt has seen during his travels.
"A lot of them are from Will County," Schmidt said. "But there also are scenes from New England because we make frequent trips out there. I always get ideas when I'm traveling."
The exhibit includes a painting of Virginia bluebells at Messenger Woods Nature Preserve, which is the piece that won Schmidt the contest, as well as a wide variety of other nature scenes including a lighthouse from out East and a butterfly on a butterfly bush.
"There are landscapes that range from large oaks in the forest to the rocky views at Starved Rock State Park," Lyttle said. "Plus, visitors will be transported to a few mountain vistas and scenes from mountain streams."
Schmidt has been painting for more than 45 years. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he moved to Illinois in 1987 and he has been involved in many juried art shows and has won numerous awards including Best of Shows. He is currently a Gallery Artist at Tall Grass Art Association, an Illinois Artisan member and a guild member of the Union Street Gallery.
Schmidt works mostly from sketches and from reference photographs. He interprets the colors and light of the images using a modified pointillism style.
"Viewing the art up close, you notice the individual points, blotches and dots," Lyttle said. "Then you step away to see them all blend together to make this complete and beautiful scene."
The exhibit is one of several art programs the visitor center has hosted in recent years.
“Plum Creek Nature Center is getting more involved in the art world to connect to different audiences," Lyttle said. "I think people can agree that nature is inspiring. Through the course of history, humans have been inspired by the natural world for paintings, music, novels, plays, etc."
Hosting an art exhibit is a way to bring that creativity inside where it is accessible to everyone, she added.
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