The Great Blue Heron

Harriet!
The Great Blue Heron is very close to my heart. She is the watch-bird of the river. She knows everything that goes on. When we’re running the river, she laughs when we point and call out “GBH!” because she has been quietly watching us for at least 20 minutes before we even saw her. She leads us down the river, scrutinizing our lines through rapids, and takes flight just before we get too close. I couldn’t count the times I’ve spotted a heron just before dropping into a big rapid. Somehow it always calms my nerves, just knowing that they are there watching as I descend into churning whitewater. As if they could help if something went wrong!? …Confidence is everything!

The Great Blue Heron, as it’s name suggests, emits a stoic presence; in its beautiful, confident pose it radiates greatness. Perched high above the river, or right on the water’s edge gazing out along the glassy water, you can just tell that it is an intelligent bird. I like to think that it is such a smart bird because it spends so much time observing. If we could only communicate, what could this bird teach us about the river?

Harriet the Great Blue is the first of my upcoming bird series. She’ll be watching as I dive into ink, screens, feathers. Stay tuned!

Watch the heron get her wings!

Spaghetti Sauce

I usually have a really hard time starting a new piece of art. Something about making that first mark on a clean white sheet of paper or a completely blank screen is so daunting. Once a piece is finished you probably won’t even be able to see that first mark or distinguish it from the rest, and more importantly, I could certainly start over if I wanted to. Laying down the first line always seems like the most important step in the process, but really it is so insignificant compared to the rest of the formation of the piece. It’s almost comical that I spend so much time deliberating over the start of the action, because once I finally dive into a project, it’s all I can think about, all I can see when I close my eyes, and all I want to do is keep working on it. I would probably get prints done even quicker if I didn’t have to wait for screens & ink to dry!

A little while ago I had an interesting discussion with Dan about procrastination. His viewpoint was that people that usually procrastinate often produce a higher level of work than those that do not. He said that perhaps this was because, whether consciously or sub-consciously, procrastinators have time to mull over the task at hand for a longer period of time before beginning. I had never thought of it that way before, but it sure makes sense to me and is a great excuse to keep procrastinating! I think this theory is reflected in the way I work. Many times I don’t have a solid plan for a project, but my brain seems to. I’ve noticed that the harder it is to start a new art piece, the more it seems to make sense once I start in on it. I need that extra time to get into the right frame of mind. As soon as I start, things seem make more sense, and though I still may not have a clear vision for the end product, it always emerges through the process, layer by layer.

This theory conceivably explains why it is so hard to draw the first line, to create the initial blemish on an otherwise clean slate. I’m sure it undoubtedly has something to do with the fact that on a perfectly clean swatch of paper, the human eye will be aesthetically drawn toward any blemishes, especially if the human is also the creator of the mark. Noticing a single smudge on a pristine blank canvas would make the bit of perfectionist in me experience a pretty high level of anxiety and frustration. That first mark can feel like you’re about to put a splot of spaghetti sauce on a new clean white shirt. But I think the hesitancy is also an important instinct to listen to. It’s the brain telling us to take our time, to think about the project as a whole and not to jump into something without really considering what the end goal is, however abstract that consideration may be.

This premeditative process intrigues me because in other aspects of my life I often don’t employ the same method for thinking about things. It makes me wonder if I did, what would happen… where I could end up!?

I have a few posts up on my new Instagram… please follow me: @noreenprints!

 

#Fishprints

I’ve decided to create a blog! I’ll try to update regularly with new content about my process as an artist, media, and other musings. Thanks for reading! Here’s a little about what I’m working on now.

My most recent project is a series of fish prints. This series started as a set of four endangered fish of the Colorado River, and as the ears and eyes perked of a few fly-fishing friends, has evolved into an ongoing production of many different species of local and introduced Colorado fish. As of now, I’ve made prints of eight different species (see Prints for my latest!) and am currently working on a brown trout to add to the collection. I’m so grateful to friends and family who have bought prints from me, enabling me to continue buying new materials and making more. I intend to continue this series until I run out of fishy ideas, adding more and more variations and species… so stay tuned!

I’ve been reflecting on the fact that around the same time I began this fish series, I also started learning how to fly fish (thanks Dan!). I caught my first fish in 2013 in New Zealand, and it was one of my most exciting moments of the year. Looking back on this unintentional coincidence, I think that the parallel has given me an even deeper connection to these fish. Fishing inspires my work, and my work inspires my continued growth as a fisher-lady. Just as I grow more confident fly fishing, I can see a change in my screen prints over time that shows a subtle and steady growth with the medium. The more time I spend fishing and printing fish, the more intrigued I become with the patterns, shapes and life of each species as well. I think this way of learning and making connections is an often over-looked benefit of creating art, especially with making a series of work, and it deserves more recognition!