Featured Artist: Carrie Carlson

At Brushwood Center, we are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by doing what we strive to do year round: build a community around nature and the arts. To help lift up the struggling arts community during this difficult time, we are highlighting a different nature-inspired artist each week and sharing their story with you. We encourage you to reflect on the impact of art in your life, and look for ways to support artists in our community.

This week, we are featuring one of our favorite nature artists, printmaker Carrie Carlson. Carrie has been a regular feature at our Holiday Art Markets and group shows over the past several years, and we adore her vibrant, modern style. In addition to being an accomplished artist, she is an educator and scientist, and a staunch advocate for nature and the environment.

Tulip, watercolor
Isle of Cumbrae, Scotland by Carrie Carlson

Carrie’s Artist Statement:

“As a scientific illustrator, art and science are tightly twined together in my life and I am inspired to celebrate this through landscapes, botanical studies and portraits of nature’s smallest objects and winged creatures. I hope to reveal a bit of the wonderment I find in simple subjects by drawing attention to something beautiful or unique about them that might normally be overlooked or taken for granted. I am especially interested in raising awareness about issues faced by threatened or exploited populations, be they human, bird or bumblebee.

Field sketching is a cornerstone of scientific illustration. I cannot imagine visiting a local zoo, much less traveling abroad, without a sketchbook. Travel and field sketching generate a deeper appreciation for humanity and the planet. The act of drawing forces us to slow down, to notice, reflect, cherish, and consider… What I gain from these experiences is a passionate environmentalism and driving responsibility to speak up for under-served populations. Through my artwork, I pray my steady, hopeful voice brings greater attention to how we can contribute to solutions and healing.

If field sketching sparks new awareness and intimacy with the natural world, then creating finished prints satisfies an eagerness for studio challenges. I greatly enjoy learning the age-old processes of traditional printmaking. Relief printing, linoleum block in particular, has been an especially satisfying outlet for my creative energies.”

“I once heard a pastor say, “Ecology is Doxology,” and that pretty much sums it up for me. My spirit finds hope and courage, learns patience and grit, experiences joy and community most clearly out in nature. I’m inspired to raise awareness and advocate for environmental causes.”
Watch Carrie in Action

Want to try your hand at coloring one of Carrie’s prints? You can download a copy of her print, “Reverie,”:

Download Carrie’s Coloring Page

Follow Carrie Carlson Online

You can learn more about Carrie’s work and purchase her prints by visiting her Etsy shop or her website.  You can also keep up with her by following her on Facebook or Instagram.


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Robin’s Nest by Carrie Carlson

Carrie Carlson is a Chicagoland native. She earned a BA in Biology and Art from Luther College (Decorah, IA), an MFA in Scientific Illustration from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI), an MA in Printmaking from Governors State University (University Park, IL), and she recently began a PhD in Art + Design Education at Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL). Since 2001, she has been a full-time high school educator in the south suburbs of Chicago where she has split her years between the science and art departments; teaching Drawing, Painting, International Baccalaureate Visual Arts, as well as Biology, Biomedical Sciences, and Horticulture. She also teaches a variety of adult art courses at the Morton Arboretum including linoleum block printing, drawing birds, and field sketching.

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