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


Five Lies Answered

I just read this very heartening article entitled, "Five Lies That Could Be Ruining Your Career (And Your Life)" from Duct Tape Marketing. It resonated intimately with me. I encourage you to read it through and seriously consider the questions it poses, not with simple "sound bite" answers. Take just one of the questions and ruminate about it an entire day, or week, or year.

Without spoiling the article, here are the five lies we tell ourselves and my rather incomplete, bloggish responses:

  1. I haven’t found my passion / I don’t have a passion.
    1. Lie! My passion is art! Creating! Creation! Mindfulness!
  2. I can’t afford to leave the job I don’t like.
    1.  Well, I have to say I've had this feeling many times. In my 20s-30s I was crying almost everyday before going to work. It was ruining my well-being and grating away at my self-worth. I went because I needed to support my family and get bills paid. Being stuck in a job sucks. How many of us are walking zombies numbed by the everyday-ness of life? Years sail past like highway hypnosis. Next thing you know, you've wasted years and are filled with regret… Stop the insanity! Wake up! Start living the life you want!
  3. It’s too late to change direction now.
    1. False! Even though I know the direction I want to go, over time that changes, expands, grows and deepens. The "unattainable" goals I made for myself in 2006 were achieved and each year following my goals have broadened. Every new goal is a stepping stone for the next. We never know what is ahead of us! It is a true adventure in the making!
  4. Pursuing my own happiness is selfish. I have a family to think about.
    1. Hyperbole! Pursuing one's own happiness is selfish if that is the sole means and ends. If We are happy and our cup is full, we are better equipped to give—and give generously— to others.
  5. I hate my job now, but I will be happy as soon as I [get the promotion/finish the project/collect my bonus/get my degree].
    1.  Fiction! Dude, we are talking about a person who loves their job, went back to college at 45! The proverbial "grass is always greener" mentality takes hold only when a person is too busy or too overwhelmed to appreciate and be thankful for every blessing they have been given.
Change your story: Instead of "I'll be happy when....", replace with "I am happy now." Do it! Do it anyway!


GALLERY OPENING: PEACES Art Gallery & Adornments

PEACES Art Studio & Adornments  prepares for its opening!
[photo via PEACES Facebook]
I've been blessed to know Cheryl Voss for many years. We met while both supporting The Land Conservancy of McHenry County (TLC). Now she is starting her own nature-inspired brick & mortar store, PEACES Art Studio & Adornments,  in The Ice House Mall in Barrington, IL.  The soft opening is this Friday, June 7th, starting at 6:30 p.m..

The studio is an ever-changing and evolving gallery of local artists of various media, representing the celebration of life and wild nature. 
A sample of the work by Cheryl in her studio
[photo via  PEACES Facebook Events]
Cheryl welcomes featured artist and friend, Yvonne Beckway, whose art shows a strong love of and connection to the land. In additiona, there will be work by Mary O'Rourke Mariutto,Ruth FlettTamara McMillanMary Miller, jewelry artists Leanne EmeryLynda WallisNancy Schmitt-NeumanWill Slagel and more coming in all week (that's means me!).

Yvonne Beckway is the premiere featured artist at PEACES in Barrington, IL
[photo via PEACES Facebook Events]
Cheryl was an organizer and administrator for TLC and I was an artist in that organization's fundraiser, Art of the Land. It is a spectacular event over a two-day period beginning with Voice of the Land. Poets, music and video fill the Starline, a historic factory re-purposed as an elegant space in Harvard, Illinois, with the stories of nature and the people who appreciate it.

The following evening is Art of the Land. Once again the space is transformed. This time into a gallery filled with local nature-themed artists.

The following evening is Art of the Land. Once again the space is transformed. This time into a gallery filled with local nature-themed artists.

Now that she has her own gallery and studio space, nothing is gonna stop her! Congratulations, Cheryl, best of luck, and thanks for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of your new adventure! 


The cup is filling up

The past several months have been a whirlwind and are starting to slow to a naturally-paced rhythm which is allowing time to fill my cup.

Art, for me, is that cup visually spilling over and me wanting to share the solace my soul feels when walking through a forest or noticing wildlife–even if it is only just  in my own back yard. When my soul is not able to rest and breathe, I find that it grows tight and small. I feel in my chest a gripping sensation as though something is trying to hold on for dear life. It is fight or flight. Only when I expand my world does that feeling go away. The expansion occurs when I feel awe and wonder.

For example the surprise of finding my first morel hiding under a huge May Apple leaf! Elinor and I were looking for quite some time. She actually found some cut stems that someone else had already taken. We walked farther down the path and came across another patch of May Apples up a bit farther on the side of a hill. There is was! I swear it was glowing in the sunshine with beams of radiance exuding from within! Then the angels started singing... lol.
My first wild morel sighting... without assistance.
We cut it off above ground level so that the mycelium will continue to grow and give us mushroomy deliciousness for another year. In total we found seven morels, although Elinor was much better at finding them than I was! We took them over to my mother's house for positive identification and then prepared Morel and Spring Vegetable Risotto with roasted chicken. As we shopped and prepared the risotto, mom prepared the table with Muscato, candles and an elegant piano solo. It was such a nice way to spend a morning and afternoon. Good food, good company, and good memories made.
Deer joyfully playing with one another.
 Another weekend, Paul and I went out to Afton Prairie Park to see what we could see. There was nothing we saw that was out of the ordinary, Canadian geese, deer, flowers; but it sure made us want to go camping again. Paul planned an open area with a tent, hammock, horseshoe pit. It is nice to imagine, but I like creating these places as well as imagine. Vacation can't come soon enough.
Trying to see fish or frogs at Afton Prairie Park. Gracie was not interested.
Even in my own back yard my heart is lightened. This week two baby bunnies came out of their burrow for the first time and were playing in the grass. I sat at my kitchen table and laughed out loud as I watched these two cuties box one another, roll around and nibble the grass.
Baby bunnies exploring in the grass for the first time.
Paul and I visited Matthiesen State Park for the first time for his 55th birthday. Neither one of us had ever been in a canyon before. The wooden handrails were polished smooth with years of people gripping them for balance. As we walked farther down the steep stairs to the bottom of the canyon at Lake Falls, the air cooled.  The sound of wind and chirping birds was replaced by a quiet stillness which was dampened by humidity. Then, a bit further down, the roar of the falls - not too loud - just splashing and cascading down the sandstone canyon walls.
Lake falls at Mattheisen State Park in Utica, IL
In places the canyon walls were lined with liverwort, mosses and ferns. On a ledge, a toad with golden eyes watched us carefully from his stage.  Golden flakes adorned the walls and floors of the canyon like glitter.
Fools Gold (?) in the sediment at the bottom of the falls.
Hiked the canyons of Mattheisen State Park in Utica, IL
 Paul and I considered the beauty, trying to soak it all in. When we stood still, cliff swallows flew past expertly dodging the two newcomers to their relm. There was evidence of people carved into the sides of the soft sandstone canyon walls, but it was all too easy to imagine that we were travelers who had gone back in time hundreds of years.
Paul sees Lake Falls for the first time.

We had started at Matthiessen Lake.  Then we walked down to see the bottom of Lake Falls. We spotted a deep impression called the Giant's Bathtub, rounded out to Cedar Point, and continued to Cascade Falls. We ended up hiking a full circle back to the lake where we saw a beautiful and large great blue heron landed on some dead logs and begin to hunt. I was surprised and happy to see how clear the lake was. Fish were abundant. I could see them from the top of the bridge!

bridge over the canyon
 We spied minnows in the canyon streams, several inchworms, that golden-eyed toad, turkey vultures, cliff swallows, wood peckers, Jack-in-the-pulpits, several types of ferns, May Apples, and lots of poison ivy.
An inch worm takes the bridge over the canyons. Smart worm!
 Next weekend, hopefully, another adventure and another chance to fill that cup through enjoying the world God has richly blessed us with.


Mike's Harder Design Contest

"ZA JUSU" by Erin K. Nolan
Please vote for me here: http://zooppa.com/en-us/ads/craft-the-next-can/prints

"MAIKU'S RINGO" by Erin K. Nolan
Please vote for me here: http://zooppa.com/en-us/ads/craft-the-next-can/prints

The designs haven't officially been approved yet, so no voting right quite yet, but when voting DOES start go here. Find me and VOTE EARLY & VOTE OFTEN!"

The first one, is entitled "The Juice" in Japanese. It shows a demon tree whose sap is made of firewater. The branches are red to show the spicy cinnamon heat. The leaf and apple symbols are made seasonal with autumn hues and the background texture is the same color as dark apple cider. I thought it might hit, with the Japanese-style design, with the target audience though a tattoo style.

The second can is just the top of the same tree , but it is entitled "Mike's Apple."

Wish me luck! (I think I'll try to do another one in my dot-pattern style over the weekend!)


"All's Quiet on the Western Front," Well, Maybe Not

Was December just two months ago? Seriously?! It feels like another lifetime that I went to school.
Northern Illinois University Graduating Class of December, 2013
I'm the one that turned around just as the photo was taken.
Graduation was awesome. I went back to school to get that single sheet of paper, but it ended too soon. I don't think I'll miss living on Mountain Dew and just three hours sleep a night. I will definitely miss the creative atmosphere, the supportive and kind students and staff, and just the ability to create my own pieces every. single. day. 
Me, with my BFA in Illustration!
3.45 GPA overall  |  4.0 GPA since I went back!
I've been productive in those two months, just not on the art side of life. My son and I moved out of the apartment and lived at the Motel 6 for a month → it sounds bad, but was a blessing because at the end of the month I moved into MY NEW HOME! I can't even begin to express how amazing it feels to clean my own floor, cook on my own stove, and paint walls in a COLOR other than white! The finished basement will be my very own studio!
"The Nolan's"
The most blessed thing of all is that everyone in my family has done some hard work. Each of us has looked deeply into our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and failures. The black hole that we entered two years ago has brought us to a new and better place. We have learned and are moving forward together. People have shown us who they are, their true nature has been revealed → some for better and for worse and those lessons will not be lost. 

We are moving in slowly after we each caught the cold going around town. While I haven't been doing outside work as much or as often, I have been doing some pretty cool things with my co-workers. We got together and decided to try to recreate the movie poster for Star Trek: Into Darkness. That way we could work on our lighting, typography, and special effects skills. Here is the progression: 

How cool is that? I know! Awesome, right?!?! I was also able to help out the Family Service Agency, by working with them to get an updated website. I wrote about this project on OC Imageworks' company blog. 
Personally I was really pleased with the results. FSA currently serves as the um FSA currently serves as the umbrella for a variety of essential community programs: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Advocacy Center, Center for Counseling, and Senior Services.  They serve as a “hub” of services, organizing the efforts of many local agencies to provide the best care possible to every generation found within my community. I love that I was able to assist such a worthy cause. Here is the before and after website screenshots:

Family Service Agency Website: Left = Before | Right = After
I worked on a marketing campaign for Chad Luberger at Plum Bottom Pottery. He was interested in ramping up his brand identity with a new version of his logo as well as a new color palette. Chad creates both sculptural and pragmatic porcelain and invites artists of other mediums to show in his gallery space. One of those artists is Amanda DeWitt and her Silversmithing. Her jewelry is shown in the ad I created below, but you can read a bit more about her and view her work here

Ad for Plum Bottom Pottery & Gallery in Egg Harbor, Door County, WI
Whew! I guess I there was a lot more going on than I thought! I didn't even write about everything. I'm humbled and praise God for his abundant and generous blessings.