"Eagle Tower Remembered"

My latest intaglio print created using the dry etch technique is entitled "Eagle Tower Remembered" is hot off the press (literally).
"Eagle Tower Remembered" An intaglio using the dry etch technique by Erin K. Nolan.
It is just in time for Plum Bottom Pottery's  "Process: A 2D Exploration" on Sunday, Aug. 16th from 3–7 p.m. for their annual showcase of new work from artists working in two dimensions. I'll be at the gallery demonstrating the art of woodblock printmaking! Come on over and say, "hi!"

"Eagle Tower Remembered" inked and ready for the first run through through the press!
Eagle Tower is a 75-foot wooden lookout that soars 250-feet straight up over the waters of Green Bay. It offered spectacular views of the small islands surrounding Peninsula Park near Fish Creek, Door County, WI, USA. Originally the tower was built by hand in 1914 for just $1,061.92. It was rebuilt in 1932 and has been one of the many attractions to thousands Door County visitors over generations.

View from the top of Eagle Tower over Green Bay.
In April, 2015 the 83-year-old tower was closed by the Department of Natural Resources citing structural deficiencies. I remember climbing to the top and feeling the tower sway in the breeze as my grandparents cheered me on from below! Safety was not a huge concern way back in the day and the building does not match current safety regulations. It also does not have any accessibility for those who are disabled. There is a possibility that it could be rebuilt some time in the future, but it will never be the same dangerous, dizzying thrill climb that it once was. 

Eagle Tower's shadow over the paths of Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, WI.
So, in memory of the tower as it is. Now. In 2015, I've created this image for me to remember:
  • each time I tripped on one of the stairs (imaging I would fall through and tumble down the bluff to my demise)
  • watched a eagle soar silently past.
  • viewed a blazing sunset dip behind the bay
  • heard my grandparent's cheers as I bravely climbed the tower by myself for the first time
  • felt my legs shaking as I reached the top
  • looked up to see the top of the tower and lost my balance because it was so high
  • wondered as a child if I spit from the top would it make it to the ground ( I never did)
  • dreamed of squirting my water bottle at unsuspecting people below (I never did)
  • saw schools of fish swimming and darting like shadows in the water
  • and felt my stomach turn into butterflied as I bravely peeked over the edge and conquered my fear of heights
Hopefully you had some of the same memories. If you were never so lucky to climb the tower, Here is a video from the Door County Navigator. (Notice the "guard" rails! No safety what-so-ever! And that's how we liked it!)
View more of Erin's artwork at www.erinknolan.com!
HUGE shout out to Jon Jarosh, the Director of Communications and PR at the Door County Visitor Bureau in Sturgeon Bay for giving permission to use his aerial photo as a reference for "Eagle Tower Remembered." Jon—I'm so glad I didn't use my first idea and buy a drone Thanks so much for the advice and the reference material!


Computer Down

June, 2015 Storm over DeKalb County, IL at Afton Prairie Park
I came in to work today, a Saturday, to finish the park district's youth summer sports photos. This involves hundreds of photos. I've been here, on a beautiful sunny day, a direct weather opposite of the photo above, for a total of six and one-half hours and have not entered a single team due due to multiple catastrophes. At this point I trying to just make it through the day as all those bazillion photos are filterd through image processing.

I'm disappointed in having to waste a brilliant day perfect for hiking or kayaking due to problems at work. I'm frustrated that it means more work—on top of work—that needs to be accomplished by Monday. Now, I'll be working Sunday as well which means I'll be working 12 days straight without a break, which ultimately means I can't complete my projected artwork in time for the Summer Gala at Plum Bottom.

After I finished school and got my degree. I saw myself having more time at home to devote to my artwork. I naively thought I would work, leave at 5 go home,  and so artwork. But, the day-job ramped up to include more and more (and more) hours, volunteer and community-related responsibilities were taken on. Home life suffers. Artwork suffers. Relaxation and de-stressing suffers. Health suffers. It sucks. It just sucks. No other way to put  it.

So, what am I going to do about it?

Be grateful. These are good problems to have: I have a day job doing something creative. I have a home. My husband and I are happy. I'm satisfied with the quality of the art I do achomplish, if not the quantity.

Reprioritize. If a stranger looked at my life - my actions-what would they say is the most important thing to me? I think they would say work because that is where I spend so much time, but my heart wants God, family & friends, artwork & work in that order.

Simplify. I need to find a way to become more disciplined and intentional with my time.  Too much time is wasted on things that, if I could be more disciplined, would be rejected in favor of doing something more productive. The question is how can I achieve this?

My elementary school teachers as well as my mom would say that I was too day dreamy. I think today they would call it Attention Deficit Disorder. Well, whatever it would be called, I still am. I'm easily distracted, my mind races ahead. Outlining everything that needs to be done is so overwhelming that the most difficult part to getting it done it simply starting.

Everything has a season. There were times when I didn't work as much, those times will be there again, someday. I, maybe more than most, know how quickly a person's lot in life can change. Work hard, while the work is here. As my father-in-law would say, "It's the best time of your life if you only knew it."


An Anxious Contentment

I've been at a loss this past year. I feel like I am drifting, not quite living life to the fullest. A good way to describe it is content, yet anxious.

It seems I've always had something to rally for. I'd tell myself, "I will get that degree" or  "I will do everything in my power to ." I know I've mentioned before about having that small and quietly determined voice saying, "Do it now! There is not much time." Sometimes these goals were positive things brought about by negative situations. Sometimes they were long-term while other times they were immediate. But always, there was something major that needed doing right now.

I spoke about this with a friend. She mentioned a book entitled "The Rhythm of Life: Living Everyday with Passion and Purpose" by Matthew Kelly. She explained that for one to feel fulfilled in life, one must use their talents, have their physical and emotional needs met, and fulfill their  inner drive. When these three come together, a purpose and goal, or reason for living is discovered.

The theory makes sense.

I've known from an early age that my talent is in art. I have other talents – not as finely honed – such as listening, spiritual awareness, curiosity, a passion for fairness and justice, an interest in biology and science, etc.

My needs are the same as those put forth by Maslow: physiological needs, safety, belongingness & love, esteem, a need to know and understand, aesthetic needs, self-actualization, and transcendence.

Maslow Heirarchy of Needs is divided in two areas: deficiency needs and growth needs.  Deficiency needs one level needs to be met prior to the next being achieved. For example physiological needs need to be met before one can feel safe, a secure and safe environment is required to feel and give love, etc.  After the basic deficiency needs are achieved, one can begin to grow spiritually.

Basic needs were a struggle throughout my life, as it is for all of us. We get stuck. I was glued to simple emotional safety for far too long. I think it stunted me in many ways. I couldn't go on to the next step of the pyramid. When I did, I would get figuratively kicked back down and have to start over, but every time that happened it took longer to climb up to the next level.

In my life right now, everything is quiet. My home is peaceful. I live in a safe neighborhood. I have food when I am hungry. There is money in the bank. I have a good, long-term job doing something I enjoy and am good at. Along with those things comes security. Security is basically all I've ever wanted.

The thing is, there is more than just having basic needs met. At 47 (and a half, lol) I've just now had these basic requirements met. So I am comfortable. Yet, I am so used to being anxious and worried that even in the midst of this contentment I am hungering for there to be more to life – and this is where the lost and drifting part comes in.

Right now, it is a desire, or inner drive, that is missing. I don't know what I want. I've achieved these goals that once seemed so lofty, albeit, simplistic. I don't have those primal rallying points to go after through anger or anxiety or need. So.....

What is my purpose? Why am I here? Is this all there is to life?

The answer has to be no. I'm looking to my faith to answer those questions. Answers to those questions haven't yet coalesced into a feeling I can articulate, so I drift onward.

The  bible says, "
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."     Matthew 5:13–16
Does this mean that I am to take this contentment and show others who are struggling that there is a way out of the current life they lead? That there is hope for a different life? How can I do this using my talents? Do I just offer them up to God and see what direction he sends me? Or, do I need a more specific purpose?

Tich Nhat Hahn, a Buddist monk living in France, spoke about cultivating our deepest desire. He says that we all have something we wish to aspire to and isn't until we realize what will fulfill that life desire that we become enlightened.

When enlightenment occurs, it is like the fulfillment a happily pregnant woman feels. She doesn't have to constantly remind herself that she is pregnant. Every moment whether awake or sleeping is filled with the knowledge that she is carrying a child.

So it is with our purpose. It is like a seed, once it begins to grow, it is as if it has always been there. You can't remember a time when it wasn't there.  It has ALWAYS been with us. It is only that the knowledge was in the depths of our unconscious. We have a purpose whether we are aware of it or not.

One way, he goes on, that we do not yet know our purpose is because everything is a struggle. It takes effort, we lack concentration during our everyday tasks. We lack focus and attention. Like the pregnant mother analogy, once we have our purpose within us, we will do everything to nurture that life. It becomes effortless because we are being mindful about something other than ourselves.

With all these thoughts, I go to pray, and listen, and search, and drift.


The Year of the Green Wood Goat (or Sheep)

The Baren Forum, a collective of relief printmakers working in woodblock, is having their annual Chinese New Year exchange. I've participated in an exchange before with my ginger root print and am excited to see everyone's version!

Exchanges are so cool because you get to examine someone else's work close up without the security guard coming and standing behind you like in a gallery or museum. You can analyze every mark—the ink, the pressure, the technique, and especially the papers. Oh the papers! I love being able to touch all the different handmade washi and Western papers. 

I've been making a few sketches over the past week and just didn't love any of them until last night. The idea of having this year riding on last year's back and the upcoming year just out of reach. Yes, that was the one. From the response I've been getting on Facebook, others agree.
Sketch for the upcoming Chinese New Year-2015
I can't wait to get home and start transferring the design to tengucho paper. Tengucho is a thin paper made of delicate Kozo (Mulberry) fibers and looks like tissue paper. It isn't a weak paper though. It is very strong for its 2 gram weight. Once the image is transferred, the tengucho is glued to the block with nori (rice paste) and left to dry. I'll update my progress on the blog so you can see the entire process.

I love falling in love with a drawing. It is all I want to do. It is all I can think about until the final prints are packaged. Then, because I'm fickle, I'll fall in love with another drawing. 

This edition will be available at my Etsy shop once completed. I make small editions, so be there or be square. lol.

Also, the GoFundMe campaign, has been going well! So far $157 of the goal has been raised towards the purchase of a Conrad E-15 Printing press. This press will expand my abilities and increase my potential. See my previous blog, or go directly to the source at Go Fund Me to find out more! (Thanks!)


Go Fund Me

Donate $100 or more and receive an exclusive editioned print!

I've got the "Dry Etch Blues" and the only cure is a Conrad E-15 printing press!!

After attending Northern Illinois University and taking an Intaglio class, I haven't stopped thinking about this etching technique. I'll never give up my woodblock prints; however, the level of detail that can be achieved with copper and a printing press intrigues me so much that I just can't get it out of my mind. Living in the rural Midwestern United States, there are not a lot of presses available within driving distance.

So, with a GoFundMe (crowd sourcing) the hope is that by obtaining a Conrad E-15, my artwork will go to the next level.

Please consider donating. A gift of just $5 will purchase two yards of tarlatan wiping fabric.
A gift of $20 will purchase a container of ink.

With a generous gift of $100 or more, I'll send you an exclusive editioned print off the new machine. It is like pre-ording an original print — at a greatly reduced price! You can see my latest work at www.erinknolan.com,

Thank you for your consideration — take the next step and read more about the project here: www.gofundme.com/erinknolan and bless you!

This was the print that started it all!


Recent work and works in progress

Title: "My Traveling Companion at the Ridges"
Artist: Erin K. Nolan
Edition: 24
Media: Relief print: woodblock, moku hanga
Year: April, 2014
Print dimensions: 10" x 8"
Paper dimensions: 14" x 12"
Ink: Akua Kolor
Washi: Kozoshi
© 2014 Erin K. Nolan d/b/a Pejnolan Studios

This little guy was at The Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey's Harbor, Door County Wisconsin. I was hiking the paths and suddenly came across this beautiful red squirrel. We both stopped what we were doing when we spotted one another. We considered each other, then slowly started going back to our activities—I started walking once again while he nibbled on a nut. Then he followed me along the fence line like a dog follows its master. Then he angrily chattered at me, trying to tell me something which I could not understand, and ran back into the deep boreal forest of the sanctuary. 

Title: "Cana Island in Winter"
Artist: Erin K. Nolan
Edition: 24
Media: Relief print: woodblock, moku hanga
print dimensions: 8x10
paper dimensions: 11x13
washi: kozoshi
Ink: Akua Kolor
Year: 2014
© 2014 Erin K. Nolan d/b/a Pejnolan Studios

 Proposed title: Indigo Bunting on Cana Island. It will be a multi-block print using tints and tones of phthalo blue, black, and phthalo green. Right now I'm doing color experiments and hope to have the finished prints done by July.

Finally, I've started to rework the koi fish that I had begun during illustration classes at NIU. The original was dimensional, so the texture from the previous painting is being used in the current one. I can't wait to see where this goes!

I'm considering taking the orange koi's tail and extending it to the bottom, under the white koi. The white line work that is there now would be the tail fin. I know that isn't the proper way to work, I ought to make sketches, then revise the sketches, then transfer the finished drawing, then start painting; but I want my paintings to be more unpremeditated. Woodblock prints take the technical, disciplined, and methodical route. My paintings fill the spontaneous, flowing, more intuitive needs that I have when creating artwork. It is a nice division.


Why spend time in nature?

Afton Prairie Park June 16, 2014
Evening Afton Prarie Park
"Nature is something within which we flourish,
so having it be more a part of our lives is critical,
especially when we live and work in built environments."
~ Richard Ryan, Professor of Psychology, University of Rochester.
June, 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology
Afton Prairie Park June 16, 2014
  “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
~ John Burroughs (1837-1921),
renowned naturalist and essayist 

Afton Prairie Park June 16, 2014

Being in nature bestows a sense of connectedness, meaning, and purpose. There is a sense of the chaotic order in the way nature works; the plants and animals are interconnected in a series of complex relationships. Everything coexists in nature without the necessity of outside intervention. It is a system that has existed successfully since the beginning of time, which provides a sense of structure, coherence, and reliability for those wise enough to use nature as a model for life.
"Why Nature Is Therapeutic"  CRC Health

Afton Prairie Park June 16, 2014
  “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you…
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
John Muir (1838-1914),
Preservationist and Sierra Club founder