This spring there is a frenzy of action, movement, and change in all directions….
1. I had an awesome time as artist in residence at the Portland Childrens Museum, and got to watch the spring blossom on long bike commutes and afternoon sketching sessions. There is an exhibit pulled from my time there which will be showing in their gallery space though July.
2. My new book Arrow to Alaska hit the shelves… Find it at your local bookstore, or on my etsy site when i’m back from #4 and #5
3. Last weekend I celebrated summer weather during a Nature Journaling class put on by Cedar Root Folk School. We sketched and rambled and wrote and enjoyed Marrowstone Island. Above is a fish-head collected during my drift exercise.
4&5 Not one but two trips up the Inside Passage to Alaska! Tomorrow I steam off on the mighty salmon tender Chichagof, for some kids on boats fun and a week of pouring over charts and current tables in preparation for trip two. The “R2AK” or race to Alaska is a wild idea dreamed up by the head of the NW Maritime Center in Port Townsend, WA. For its first year in existence, 40 teams will sail or row or paddle (no motors allowed) from PT to Ketchikan. The first team gets 10,000$, the rest just aches and glory. Its a crazy field of boats and competitors. Check out www.r2ak.com for full hilarious details. I’m team GRIN. Ill also be posting a bit on instagram when service allows (@hannahviano). Look for field sketches done along the way, and hopefully a show of artwork inspired by the journey in the months to follow.
Art is adventurous work these days, and i hope to keep it that way. Wish me luck.
Three months on the road, and in the sea…. a huge expanse of freedom. The desert had been wet and was in bloom. The winds were strong and sent us back to the beach to explore many a day, but we covered 6,000 miles by oars and wind and chevy van. And none of it was black and white.
These images are notebook sketches made with watercolor and ink along the way.
At home now the color sneaking into my life continues despite the grey weather. “S is for Salmon” comes out next week in full color! Signed copies can be pre-ordered now HERE.
Bands get to go on tour, usually stay-at home moms, sadly, do not. Usually…
But how can one refill that well of inspiration, look at the dilemmas of life from an objective distance, and reconnect with beau and babe in a not-so-9-5 kind of way?
Just pack up and go. Anyway. In spite of all excuses, and fussing about not enough time… (thats really the crux, we never know how much time we will have, right).
Not that there wasnt a year of planning and angling and giant piles of anchors and spare tires and expired safety flares growing in the garage. But now there is a tiny green boat hitched up behind an unpredictable old van and piles have been pummeled into drybags and an artkit has been made for the road. So work can continue as inspiration flows with the miles, land and sea-miles. They say there is no sky like a mexican sky, so perhaps I will use colors, like prickly pear skin and the burnt orange of desert rocks. Cortez blue and Saguaro green to fill up the well.
*The images in this post are a set that is packed in the depths of the van to be dropped off in Truckee, CA at Riverside Studios, a wonderful shop/gallery that carries my work. Both are 16″x20″.
Last year I bought a 1969 chevy van. It is so great, it has its own corny, sexy, song.
It was bought to haul around the region my large pieces of framed artwork. 6 feet of glass, times many such pieces, quickly overwhelms even a stationwagon. Not to mention installation projects and 50 gallon drums to fill with message bottles.
This year, big art pieces….not so much. As my path with this art-work thing goes on its winding way, all roads lead to books, and illustrations,and less 6 foot sheets of glass (for the moment). Luckily the van has another purpose and is gearing up to haul my small family and our tiny boat to Baja for an expedition in the Sea of Cortez this winter.
Currently on the docket are illustrations for a collection of sailing stories and thoughts from the smiling guru on simple living Teresa Carey. I am also working on the mock-ups for a Northwest childrens’ adventure story. Already on their way to print are “S is for Salmon”, made from the Salmon and Salal Alphabet project images, and a cameo illustration in an upcoming book from Ivars.
Perfect work to be done with nothing but a pencilcase and travel-size drawing board as the summer unfolds and we trundle around in that van full of food, bikes, running shoes and playing gear instead of frames.
Sometimes life fits into the space it has. Like Goldfish.
Setting up to brainstorm for the Whalefall exhibit… sand + water + fish + ocean environment + waves, surface + all the feeders + depth + tiny shrunken cups from the deep ocean + waves + currents + barnacles + whaleships + research boats + bahamian banks babies + sounds + other whales + beach belly rubs + alaska spy hops + in the distance far offshore + blow + orcas from jakes boat + finbacks in the wake coming home on Halcyon + up through the Westwards steel hull, then in the water as we swam + and then the thought of oceans depth and falling……. to the sea floor, and a soul that fell and we tried to raise it, but never really did , stayed there in that deep blue sea. Probably sheparded off by whalesong to a different strange place that I dont know how to tell my son about. The thought that maybe this is part of my connection to the idea of a whalefall, this story in my heart— it sat so heavy on my chest that a giant sigh came out and the tears ran and throat choked up in a way that doesnt happen when i just tell the story. We are looking so hard for connections these days, social network, webs and share buttons, and they are in everything we do and say and feel. Already our own web of history and sights and sounds. Im thankful to be in a life where i get to play these thoughts out to new realizations, to take a simple word and work with what it does to me and make it tell my story for me. Let that story and its pictures out. More sighs are here, Ely is waiting for stories to be read. All this in an empty shop window. Wow.”
So one night I was sitting in the mountain cabin ( this is not the sad story) and listening to a podcast from Radiolab about loops and one segment, one word really, caught my attention. Whalefall- when a whale dies in the water and falls to the sea-floor, (along the way providing food and nutrients for a whole world of creatures for a very long time after its death). I had never heard this or even thought about the possibility and was drawn like a moth to the ipod and listened to the segment with notebook in hand oddly captured by it. Months go by and I keep thinking about it and why it struck me so. Then an opportunity for an art installation in an empty storefront comes up and I decide i will try and work with this idea somehow. From there it becomes a rather Butoh-esque thing as product is set a side and making art for process sake takes over. The notebook entry quoted above comes in here. Now a year later the installation is up at One Main Street in downtown Auburn, and it is a pile of ideas and things and images that have come along and connected the dots from here to there, most will walk by and say “huh”. One group of boys said “is that supposed to be art” to themselves outside as i was finishing up the install. Its not really pretty, has its moments, but it is the traces of me figuring out how a piece of my mind works and seeing the ripples of one day 15 years ago in so many things that i am doing now. I should say thanks to the Auburn Empty Storefronts people for giving me space and resources to do this thing. It does remind me a lot of my work as a Butoh dancer, pretty naked and pretty out there, mind wide and running, with an audience who are wondering what it is they are supposed to be seeing. I guess thats the real question, what will all thats come befor help them to see?The exhibit will be up in downtown Auburn till Christmas, and if anyone knows a sciencey, or whaley, or conservationy, or marine biologisty friend who might want to use the “whalefall” image at the top of the post, let me know. I would love it to live on.
Due to a storm off the Azores, I nearly forgot to pick my son up from preschool.
Ann Davison was the one sailing, the first crossing of the Atlantic by a lone woman sailor. I was the one reading her book “My Ship is So Small” in the back yard grass and musing too long over the rigging of a passing catamaran while waiting to cross the locks.
A series of inspiring projects have been causing me to loose myself in sea-fever after a good few years of being content to play at the very edges. Ann Davisons’ tiny boat, the Felicity Ann has just landed in Port Townsend and a group of amazing ladies have taken up the charge and plan to work with the NW school of wooden boatbuilding to create a series of empowering opportunities for women and girls starting with the restoration. Felicity Ann Boat Project.
“Go North, Go Simply”
Also in the works is a sweet little documentary being made by an old Outward Bound friend of mine, Teresa Carey, who has her own small fame these days for blogging about her experiences as a singlehander and striving for simplicity. The movie is called One Simple Question and documents an expedition she made with her partner on their own tiny boat in search of icebergs and answers. Watch the trailer, I love how she can ask big questions with the winning charm of a rosy cheeked girl from the great lakes.
Maybe not so much of the Sea but at the heart of Seattle, the Center for Wooden boats just opened their North Lake workshop and warehouse, next to Gas Works park in what used to be the mysterious and wonderful land of sea squatters and schooners called Metrodock. I made a piece that fits in panels between the old wooden studs and looks toward the buildings long and happy future as a community anchor for the North end of the lake.
Lucky me lucky me if only i could go to sea.
For the moment it is well enough to be involved with some wonderfully seaworthy endeavours. My own current show called “Hydrodynamics” is up at CLICK in West Seattle. In this series of papercuts I have been playing with the many qualities of water and the different types of linework and form I can use to tell the seas’ stories.
Current Line 25″x35″
Ill be on hand Thursday June 14th for West Seattle Artwalk.
Looking north from Saddlebag island, the high ridge of Lummi island looms in the distance. The current lines wind their way, following underwater bathymetry and their own fickle whims. In eddies at dusk we found porpoise and sea lions, salmon and seabirds. (12″x18″)
I have a family that still fits in a 15′ sailboat.
In the rest of life we have, what feels to me, like way too much stuff. Boat trailers, bikes and bikes, a weedwacker, a motorcycle, and even what constitutes a second home (its off the grid on a mountain and has no hot water but we have and do sometimes live there).
Some days it bogs me down, all those things.
When I was my sons age we lived on a 30′ sailboat with no standing headroom, and depending on my dads temperament, no motor.
So it is blissful freedom to pack food and the fewest things in our tiny boat and head out into the islands for a few days adventuring. To be out all day long and sleep under stars and be lulled by the waves, to have almost nothing and need even less.
To be reminded that if that was all i had, my family, their love, and a wild bit of space, it would be plenty.