Frogs for A Cause: Leaping for Life

FROGS FOR A CAUSE: LEAPING FOR LIFE is a public art and wellness project aimed at encouraging family exercise and movement. With project leadership by NB&T and Kishwaukee Hospital along with participation by the business community, painted fiberglass FROGS will be on display throughout DeKalb County from July – October, 2011. Each FROG on display will include a family activity and wellness tip. In addition, pledge cards will be available for families to document the type of physical activity, the duration and the frequency. Cards may be turned in at any NB&T branch location for chance to win one of 250 pedometers and a Grand Prize family vacation to Wisconsin Dells.

Proceeds from the purchase of FROGS benefit youth scholarships at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA.
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I started with the plain white fiberglass frog. Next, I measured out the lines and applied copper tape used in stained glass work. I painted and glazed the white rectangle, then used a sponge to add umber and black paint to antique it. The copper tape was then polished to remove any paint film and patina was applied to darken the copper to a deep blue/purple. The entire piece was then gently washed to remove the patina and stop oxidation. Finally, several coats of automotive sealant was applied to protect the paint and keep the copper tape from pulling up. This particular frog was for Foster & Buick Law Group, LLC. Previously, I had created their "Huskies on Parade" sculpture as well as their interior artwork.
Frogs for a Cause in process…

This is what I do in my spare time for fun!


The Woodblock Prints of Alfred Stark: Back Gallery Becomes Bird House

Young Robin | Al Stark

Alfred Stark has been drawing birds and landscapes since he was a child hiking the woods of northern Illinois.

"Recently my wife and I bought our first house. It seems natural that the birds that have been a constant inspiration in the beautiful woods and prairies near our house would find themselves lost in the wondrous surrounding of our new home."
Kingfisher | Al Stark
Our Bird House, on exhibit at The Flying Pig Gallery in Algoma, Wisconsin from August 6th through September 5th, showcases Stark's woodblock prints of these birds in this very unusual setting.

Stark received a Bachelor of Fine Art in drawing from Northern Illinois University in 1995. He began to teach himself woodblock printmaking techniques in 2003, using a mix of Eastern and Western techniques.
His woodblock prints have been featured in many regional and national shows; most recently in the 21st Paper and Clay Mid-Atlantic Art Exhibition in Norfolk, VA, and in the 3rd Annual Kyoto International Woodprint Association (KIWA) Exhibition in Kyoto, Japan.

Inked Block | Al Stark
Alfred Stark will be on site in the gardens demonstrating the craft of woodblock carving and printmaking on the afternoons of September 2nd through September 5th.  Hope you can make it one of those days to meet Al and experience the printmaking process. 

The Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace is located at N6975 Hwy 42, 2 miles south of Algoma. The gallery is open daily, 9am-6pm.   Find us on Facebook and click here to visit their blog.


Summer Open House

After tangling with Milwaukee traffic on a Friday afternoon, I am safe at home after a whirlwind trip to Door County for the Summer Open House at Plum Bottom Gallery in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin.

Lighthouse at The Ridges Sanctuary
Wednesday I drove up and booked a stay in a sleeper cabin with Frontier Wilderness Campground on Hillside Road in Egg Harbor. It was the first time I've been there. The sites are all deeply wooded. The cabins, washrooms and showers are impeccably clean and the staff is laid back, yet professional.
I don't know what this is. I preferred to call it a pink prickle-berry.
After I unpacked, I treated myself to a walk through The Ridges Sanctuary. Sometimes I wonder if I am stuck in a rut. I go to the same places over and over again ever since I was a child. There are more parks and secret places to be found, I am sure; but places like The Ridges call me back and I never tire of its voice.
 Every season there is something new to see. Every year it changes a bit. There is something in walking the same paths and noticing the differences: another tree fallen, new growth taking its place - it speaks to time and seasons - everything is a circle. It takes time and patience to notice the patterns of nature. Every once in awhile, a small creature greets me and welcomes me back.
My friend for a few minutes at the end of the trail.
There are quiet hours in place at the campground which I appreciated very much because I had to get to work making an edition of prints straight away if I was to make my self-imposed deadline of noon the following day.

I wanted to do something special for the Open House, so I created a limited edition of 12 prints to be sold only for that evening at a special price point. The print was based on Chad Luberger's latest ceramic pieces. Wednesday evening, I drew and carved the blocks. The washi was dampened in blotter paper over night and I awoke at 5:30 am to print. The edition was completed, dried and packaged by 11:30! Then I was off to the gallery to help set up at noon.

At first there wasn't much for me to do since I wasn't as familiar with the gallery's set up. So, I stayed out of the way and out-of-doors. It was so quiet and peaceful, contrasting with the flurry of activity inside. I sat and watched a ruby-throated hummingbird daintily sip from the pastel bloom of a hosta in the stone gardens.

Bright yellow finches, blue jays, and even a red-headed woodpecker took turns sipping from the ceramic waterfall. Periodically I could hear the calls of a cardinal or a hawk or the "cuh-cuh" of a crow in the distance. Meanwhile the waterfall bubbled a melody all its own.

"Hive Mind" was featured in the Peninsula Pulse Art Section
Eventually I set up my demonstration table beside the waterfall on a stone path. New work was given to Chad for the evening's display. He chose to coordinate color schemes between the 3-D and 2-D art. Ochres blended with umbers. Cobalt and celadon. Ultramarine violets and blues.

Cobalt and celadon are reminiscent of the colors of Lake Michigan.
I was gratefully put to work cleaning and  food presentation. During this part of set up, I learned that my print entitled 'Hive Mind" was featured on the cover of the art section of the Peninsula Pulse Newspaper! What an honor! I quietly beamed with pride over this. How cool!

Woven wire jewelry by Angela Lench. Open House print by Erin K. Nolan.
My self confidence was also boosted when Angela Lench allowed me to wear some her jewelry pieces. She weaves sterling or gold wire mixed with semi-precious stone beadwork.  (Click on her name above to read more about her!)

Ceramics by Chad Luberger. Flowers by Mother Nature.
As people began to arrive, I accepted a glass of red wine and started my demonstration. It is so much easier for me to speak with people when the focus is on the artwork. Even as an adult I am incredibly shy when speaking with people. Some people were very interested and had many questions, other people were not as interested, but listened politely as I spoke. I love showing everyone how I create my prints. I feel that education is half of an artist's work. Education leads to appreciation. It is interesting to showcase the "behind the scenes" of the artwork. In the end, though, people respond to the work on an emotional level.

As night-time fell the party moved indoors. I met so many wonderful people like fellow Plum Bottom artist Davide Toffolon. His work looks, at first glance, like an etching; but is actually pen and ink with salt processed watercolor. His work has a very distinct style. It is extremely precise and planned in areas and yet very loose in others. Stop by Plum Bottom if you get a chance to view them in person. It is worth the drive.

Artwork by Davide Toffolon. Ceramics by Chad Luberger.
After many years, I FINALLY was able to meet Nik Garvoille face to face. Nik is an artist and the creator of KNOCK: Door County's Literary Art Magazine. I came across the publication and periodically submitted artwork. Last year, he placed my print, "Blue Heron" on the cover. For his poetry reading and open house, I delivered a framed piece. The open house was a Plum Bottom Pottery. The piece sold and I arrived to accept the payment in person. Chad asked if I was interested in having work shown in his gallery. So, you could say that I owe Nik just about everything. It was wonderful to meet him. One thing about Nik: his deep eyes spark and shine like he is thinking a mile a minute - filled with creativity.

Mary and Lu-Lu's enthusiasm was contagious!
As the evening drew to a close–at least for me, as I am old and had a glass of wine and was up past my bedtime–I went to as many people as I could and thanked them for such a wonderful evening. It really was grand. Back at the cabin, my mind was racing: with visual overload. Colors were swirling in my mind from the art, conversations were played over, and I reminisced the taste of the delicious Cuban-inspired dishes. I fell asleep dazed and happy.

Tarts adorned with fresh raspberries & blueberries.
I was invited to breakfast the following morning at The Town Hall Bakery in Jacksonport. . It was the absolute best breakfast I've even had and the presentation was beautiful: edible nasturtium flowers, berries, melons, fruits and vegetables all artistically arranged, self-serve coffee, welcoming music and friendly, hometown service. Just awesome! Please, don't drive past this gem. I wish I had my camera with me in the restaurant, just so I could share with you how beautiful the plate was. I'll get a photo next time I'm in the area - oh, yeah - I'll be back!

Wild lily at The Ridges Sanctuary
Afterward… ugh…the long drive home. Milwaukee, as per usual, was my nemesis. *Shakes fist at Milwaukee interstates* I'll get the hang of it someday. Unfortunately "someday" was not today. I was brought to tears, yet again. Ah, well. As in life, it takes going through trials in order to appreciate the good times. I was so glad to arrive home, relive my plesant experiences from the past few days, and be able to share it with you.

Edge of the bog at The Ridges


Finally! Cave Point Park - Moku Hanga Version from Class

Finally, I have the finished version of the moku hanga Cave Point Park 4-block woodblock relief print from the class at Spudnik Press.

I don't think it has the flow of my previous work, but that is because I used the knife tool instead of the U-gouge to make the cuts. I was just getting used to the abilities of the new tool.

The best part about it is the gradient from sky blue to light green in the water. I also like the texture in the trees - that area is the closest to my previous work.

I go up to Door County tomorrow to attend the Plum Bottom Pottery Open House on Thursday, July 14th. It would be fantastic to meet you there!

Title: Cave Point Park
Edition Size: 10
Print Dimensions: 6" w x 8" h
Paper Dimensions: 8" w x 10" h
Ink: watercolor
Woodblock: Shina
Paper: Kozoshi
Artist: Erin K. Nolan
Dated: 07.2011


"Koi Climbing The Waterfall"

Koi Climbing Up The Waterfall, originally uploaded by pejnolan.
So much has happened. It is hard to keep up! First, this is the finished product for the "Inspired by Japan" Reliefs for Relief project. This project has been set up by the printmakers of the Baren Forum. The prints will travel to galleries all around the globe and their portfolios will be sold to raise funds for Peace Winds to the people of Japan affected by the tsunami and earthquake.
Original sketch and color idea.
key block
I read a Chinese legend known in Japan as Koi-no-Takinobori. In this story carp swim, against all odds, up a waterfall known as the "Dragon Gate" at the headwaters of China's Yellow River. The gods are very impressed by the feat, and rewarded the carp by turning them into powerful dragons.

The story symbolizes the virtues of courage, effort and perseverance. These herculean virtues are being found today in the hearts of the affected people of Japan in the face of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of 2011.

I am very proud of this piece since it is my very first true moku hanga print using watercolor as ink.

At Spudnik Press, I learned this technique from Matthew Messer. Although I am still working on the Cave Point Park print from the class, I went ahead and used the technique on my own.

Moku Hanga class in progress at Spudnik Press, Chicago, IL.
Speaking of Spudnik, I just applied for their fall residency program. I'm excited about this opportunity and really hope that I am chosen. The resident will be announced sometime in July and it begins august 1st. I'm so excited because this feels like a good next step to push myself and explore my artwork for fully. There is a stipend for materials, studio space at their facilities and a gallery show with reception upon completion of the residency. So, keep your fingers crossed for me!

This past weekend was the Ellwood House Art Show. There were far fewer booths this year. One reason for this is because of the economy - no one has extra cash for the nice-ities of life. Another reason was that many people were juried out of the show. There is a new director and he wants it to be a fine art and fine craft show. Thank goodness!! Someone with the balls to say no to flea market items. He is going to keep a high standard.
These are my tools on the table with Al Stark's prints in the background. We shared a booth.

Because of the fewer booths, Al and I had more people with time to stop by and talk about the process of printmaking. I loved it! My brother and I shared a booth this year to cut down on costs.  It was a wonderful show with perfect weather! The following day, the Fourth of July, I was so exhausted that I went to bed before dark and missed the fireworks. 

For everyone who read the previous post about my mom, her arms are healing nicely and she no longer needs a brace. She is driving and living at her own place now. Thank you for all your well-wishes for her speedy recovery!

A "naked" frog ready to paint!
I'm painting a fiberglass frog for the "Frogs for a Cause" to benefit the Kishwaukee Community Hospital Wellness Program. You might remember from 2008 when I took part in the "Huskies on Parade" project. The frog is for the same client and they want the look and feel of the frog to be similar to the existing huskie. It is kind of a craftsman / steam punk look.

Lavendar from my garden. Umm... what a relaxing scent!
PS: I think this is my favorite photo all year. 
I haven't had much time outdoors, I've been so busy! I'm wasting my summer months working! I am looking forward to going up to Door County next week for Plum Bottom Pottery's Open House on Thursday, July 14th. I have some new work to show Chad and am thrilled to be demonstrating my printmaking techniques. When I'm not helping to set up for the party, I'll be ambling through the backwoods and preserves of Door County taking some awesome reference photos.