Thursday, January 14

Behind, with a story...

Pejnolan Designs

Today I want bring you a very talented artist by the name of Erin Nolan.
I met Erin in a promotional room on Etsy. Immediately I was struck by her work. Perhaps because it was linoleum and wood block carvings she eloquently carves. This is a very difficult process with which I am familiar with. When I was young, maybe 12 I won my first award at a juried show after submitting my first relieve cut woodblock. Whatever the draw, I am so happy to have found Erin. Her words as you read on will inspire and her work will draw you in. The colors sublime and subtle and the textures are almost palpable. When I see the prints I am invoked to run my fingers across them and experience them even deeper.

The subjects are simple, unassuming and yet in Erin’s hands they transform into something much deeper. Deeper, just like Erin herself. Our first encounter was simply a disaster, but has since transformed. I have spent much time writing and rewriting trying to capture the essence that is Erin and yet nothing I type can really give the true sense of the woman behind this work. So I will instead let you hear words from Erin herself, you too will feel and hear the passion that makes her work go from art to true artwork. “I moved often when I was a child. As a result I was shy. Artwork was something I could do that didn't require other people. It was also an ice-breaker when I had to find friends at a new school. I didn't receive formal education in art until I attended college. There I blossomed and knew that having a career in art was my goal. It took awhile to achieve that dream.”

Currently Erin is working as graphic designer/creative consultant, and is an active seller on Etsy, her shop is Pejnolan Designs. Erin is longer alone she’s been married for 19 years , and has a teen age son- both of her “boys” the loves of her life.. They are a happy family with a dog, Gracie and a kitty, Crystal. It appears to, a neighborhood stray has taken up temporary residence, and whether than handed eviction papers , he has been donned, Mr. Robert, Robert, Bob, Bobby, Roberto del Feline. My guess his is temporary residence will soon change to a permanent one and that no eviction notices will be given.

Based in the heart of farmland, of Northern Illinois, the scenery could play a very huge part in the inspiration behind the work. Traveling through the Midwest myself I found it to be breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring. Listening to Erin speak of her home area, a picture can easily form in one’s mind. Here is her photo and description.
"In the summer you can see lush green fields of corn and beans all the way to the horizon. In the autumn, those fields turn golden and crisp. The crops are harvested leaving a vast emptiness that is filled with snow that sparkles like diamonds when the sun falls on it.”

Her tidy studio is located a few blocks from her house in the basement of her brother’s home. This is fitting. It seems her brother was an integral part of heading her in the direction she is going with her chosen channel of creativity. When asked how she learned her current medium the reply was beautiful to again we travel to Erin’s own words. “He kept talking to me about it. As she spoke his eyes would shine because he was excited to share his experience with me. Eventually I wanted to try it. Just to see if I could. He has mentored me as I grow within the medium.” While I cannot see her eyes shine when we “talk” through email I can feel the excitement. Please read on as she talks more about the print process “Lifting that very first proof after carving! There is hopeful anticipation that wells up inside. It is the surprise and excitement of what might be - as if I were a child again opening gifts on Christmas morning…So much of myself goes into each piece that I found it difficult to part with it after a sale. I love the idea of being able to share my artwork without giving it away entirely. I guess I'm a bit selfish that way."

As an artist myself I know this feeling. When you put so much of your heart into something it is often hard to give it away. But then there is that moment when you know you have done the right thing , a comment of a picture from the buyer of where the work is placed, a thank you note for Erin. Knowing the “moment” came was when a customer and mother sent a picture of the Robbins nest print hanging in her young daughter’s room. How cool is that? This little girl is going to look at the picture everyday and somehow Erin’s work will weave its way into this new and little life. And so often work we had has children becomes part of our children’s lives, and then their children’s lives. It isn’t one person you‘ve touched , it goes on- a circle spiraling outward drawing more and more closer from one small print. Just another wonderful facet of art!

Ug, the creative slump. I think every artist or crafter is familiar with this time. It seems we are either are spinning 90 miles an hour towards creativity, or in a slump. Erin views the slumps as something that is necessary like sleep. A time for the body to refresh, renew and repair itself. Then suddenly BAM she is back on track. Finding inspiration I am told by seeing the beauty that is everywhere. Finding it in the natural, organic forms found all around us. She uses personal life experiences, memories, and stories as her inspiration. I believe it is her ability to slow down and really have a look around her world that has helped to shape who this artist is becoming. We talked and touched on how the world is becoming so digital, face paced and superficial. I too have felt this in my own art, and think that is why my own paintings reflect back to simpler times and life styles. Sometimes art stretches us, it bends us. It lends itself a portal from where we are to where we would rather be.

Her advice for other artists? “Do what you love. Do it for yourself. Begin where you’re at. When I started printing, I didn’t have carving tools, so I used and X-acto blade. I didn’t have inks so I used the silk screen I had on-hand. Don’t wait until the perfect scenario comes to you do your artwork today and everyday!”

I hope you will find time in your busy day to browse through some of her artwork on Etsy. It truly is amazing work. I went diggin' and definitly came up with GOLD!
Happy Thursday All,
The Bumpkin

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