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SKOKIE — A pancake fundraiser brought hundreds out to dine under the trees and sun to benefit a north suburban nature center Sunday.

For eight years now the Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie has played host to the Brush with Nature open-air art exhibition, where community members can watch artists at work while enjoying a pancake breakfast outside.

“Nothing’s better than building an appetite and eating pancakes in the woods,” said volunteer Marissa Michaels.

Just a whiff away from the hectic nature of the Edens Expressway, the event helped feed many creative souls.

“The trees and the pond and the birds and the animals, are a great inspiration for the artists,” Michaels said.

Steve Puttrich was one of more than 20 artists taking their creative license from mother nature.

“I was always enamored with art,” Puttrich said. “When the breeze comes by you get a whiff of that and you try to incorporate that into your painting.  It’s quite a challenge but it’s a beautiful thing to paint.”

It was a relaxing way to spend a Sunday- not far from the hustle and bustle, but just far enough to appreciate the distance.