Out of the Zone: Screenprinting

comfort zone and growth

Out of the zone…the comfort zone that is.

One of my retirement goals is to challenge myself and to step out of my well worn rut. Growth…I want to learn more and to expand my possibilities.

There are many places to learn new things. I began at the Art Student’s League of Denver. The catalog of classes makes me drool. So many options. My first choice would have been drawing or painting classes, but the ones that fit my schedule were full. So, what the heck. I took a class I had never considered before, Screenprinting taught by Mark Friday.

Here’s my inspiration photo from my 2013 trip to Churchill, Manitoba:

Polar Bear

 

Supplies purchased- Check
Deciding on layers- Check
Drawing each layer seperately- Check
Burning the image onto the screen- Check

A little yellow added to the white created a creamy polar bear color and blue added to black was perfect for the nose and eyes. I selected a variety of papers. If you know me, you know how much I love paper and always have plenty available for special projects. Time to take a deep breath and leap forward.

Screenprinting

When several of my fellow artists pointed out the ink on my shirt and in my hair, I knew I had found an art form perfect for me. When I’m in, I’m all in.

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It doesn’t really look like a polar bear and the different papers, especially those with texture, created a bit of a challenge. Still, it was really fun. Well, washing the screen between colors wasn’t the most fun and I was drenched every time, but I couldn’t wait to move on to the next layer.

screenprinting layer 2

Okay, maybe it’s starting to look a little like a bear. (This one had a light blue background. I wanted to experiment.)

screenprintin polar bear layer 4

There he is!!

screenprinting polar bear

I was so relieved and really excited to see how well he turned out.

Okay, that was fun. I enjoyed the class and seeing all the different choices made by my fellow artists. Is this something I could do at home? There is that spare bedroom. A collection of wildlife prints representing each of the trips I’ve taken would look great on my wall.

Now the difficult part is to decide what’s next…so many possibilities.

Have you leapt out of your comfort zone lately?

Polar Bear Porn

Keep editing…keep editing…keep editing

It’s been almost four weeks since I returned from Churchill. I can’t believe time has flown so quickly. I’m still in polar bear mode and enjoying almost every minute. I check in to the polar bear cam a couple times a week to see what’s going on. I’m following Natural Habitat on Facebook to catch the latests posts. And, of course, I’m working on editing my photos.

In previous posts, I talked about a polar bear we called Flash. Would you like to know why?

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Hmmm…first exposing himself to the tourists and then taking a sexy pose. Looks like polar bear porn to me. 🙂

Tundra Symphony

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One of my posts from last week talked about a session we had with our guide, Annie, that was focused on seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling the the tundra and environment around us. Seven or eight people participated, so this came from a group effort, with lots of wonderful word play on Annie’s part. Here it is:

Tundra Symphony

 Bass tenor with an occasional gust of soprano

Symphony in the wind

Metal tin lodge becomes percussion

Each movement different

 

Symphony in the wind

Waves play while water waits

Each movement different

How fragile the human body is within this sphere.

 

Waves play while water waits

Wind the all powerful thing!

How fragile we are in this world of constant motion.

I can’t hear, I can’t smell, but I feel the cold.

 

Is wind the all powerful thing or is

There a king of this tundra?

I can’t hear, I can’t smell, I feel the cold and

Learn the art of patience

 

There is a king of this tundra

Majestic being

Teaches me the art of patience

I hear no cell phones and see a landscape fairly free of us

 

Ahh, Majestic being that

Humans live here is almost beyond comprehension!

So –I am left with this.

Our symphony –stillness and constant motion.

 

Bass tenor with an occasional gust of soprano

 In the wind

Metal tin lodge becomes percussion

Each movement different

 

 

 

Day Seven- Tundra Lodge

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This is the view of the Hudson bay from the shore. Ice is beginning to form along the shoreline.

This post was written on October 29th on the Tundra Lodge.

One more sleepover and we’re done. This was our last day out on the Polar Rover. Everyone went for the longer ride today except 5-6 people. They stayed behind hoping for some action at the lodge. I think they were concerned about having so many people on the rover. It was a bit more crowded, but everyone was very accommodating as far as getting photos.

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We saw a number of bears. The first one walked toward us. I managed to get out the back on the deck early and had a great photo.

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This was an early morning photo with the bear walking toward the Tundra Lodge where we stayed.

The next bear actually walked under the grate of the back deck area. He looked up and smelled our boots. He was so close, I had to use the little camera to get a photo. I couldn’t see what I was getting, but I kept taking pictures. It’s amazing how big he was. I don’t think I’ll ever be closer to a live polar bear then at that moment. I could hear him breathe. Unbelievable!!

We saw a couple bears sparring, then laying down together and eating kelp, then the cycle would begin again. I think it was a quiet day for bears so more rovers pulled up and the bears finally walked away. I’d seen a couple at a location at a time, but this was a little frustrating. There’s quite a bit of ice now, a lot more than when we came. You’d think with all the snow we’ve had over the last few days that we’d be knee deep. But, the snow keeps blowing. There was little wind today and that was really nice.

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I had an error show on my camera while I was taking photos of the sparring. I thought the battery had gotten cold, so I replaced it. Luckily the camera continued working. A bit later, it just quit. I tried everything I knew to do. It appears it has to go in for professional service per the error code 40. At least it waited until the trip was about over. The only thing left where I would have loved to have the big camera was the helicopter ride. At least I have the little one. I’m so glad I brought it.

As we sat at dinner, two bears sparred outside the window. Then, the kitchen bear that sleeps out back woke up and we had a chance to wish him goodbye. He’s scarred and, according to Annie, about 14-15 years old. He still will chase off the other bears, but he likes to conserve his energy. He’s beautiful!!

It was a good day. I had a chance to really talk to Bonnie about photography and her experience with the professionals coming through. She’s met some of the really famous photographers who have published photo books. It was an interesting conversation. She’s also a wonderful person. I think we lucked out. All the people, staff and travelers alike, have been fantastic.

We are up very early tomorrow. Luggage has to be out by 6:15am and breakfast is served at 6:30. Our helicopter flight is at 8:45 for an hour and then we have to be to lunch by 12:30. So, we have limited time to shop. Probably a good thing. So, off to bed.

 

Day Six- Tundra Lodge

This post was written Monday, October 28th.

This morning I got up early and headed to the lounge car to gather my thoughts for the journal. There were only a few people out and it was nice and quiet. The wind was still blowing outside and the cars sway as the gusts come through.

Then as more people came in, someone asked Linda, one of our Sex in the City gals, how she slept and her answer was, “the pill ran out after four hours.” I laughed. She is just so funny. After a couple days her hair isn’t perfect, almost perfect but she is still fashionable in her warm gear.

It was our morning to remain at the lodge while the other half headed out in the tundra rover. Annie taught yoga and then a class on Interpreting the Environment. I grabbed my shower while the yoga class was going on and then participated in the interpretation class. It was about focusing on listening, smelling, seeing and your feelings to fully appreciate the environment you are in. It was very powerful and I found myself tearing up when it was time to just stand on the platform and look out across the tundra.

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What was I feeling? Very humble; very blessed and grateful to be part of this incredible experience; small in the midst of such a vast and unforgiving environment, only protected by the lodge and vehicles that are heated and closed off to the cold; very weak and fragile against the strength of the animals and plants strong enough to survive.

What did I hear? A symphony of wind from a constant hum in the background, bass, tenor and even an occasional gust of soprano. Metal from the lodge banging added percussion to the sounds. Not only did it provide the music, but pushed against me in the beat of the song.

What did I smell? I couldn’t really smell much of anything. I guess it was fresh, clean air free of the exhaust of the city. It made me appreciate the fact I was breathing the same air as the polar bears, breathing in and out, cleansing myself.

What did I see? Ice, snow, water, waves, drifts, bushes, clouds, trees, texture, pattern, clouds, movement, stillness, animal tracks, rocks, the lodge.

Only about seven or eight people participated and Annie asked for people’s thoughts and created a poem she read at dinner. We’ll each get a copy of it that I’ll share later.

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We headed out on the rover in the afternoon. We saw several bears and then headed inland to see if we could see a bear with cubs. The females tend to stay away from the shore because the large males frequent the area and will kill her cubs. They only come this way after the ice freezes. Polar bears eat the vast majority of their diet when the ice is frozen, because they hunt seals. They store lots of fat and live on their fat reserves the rest of the year, with the addition of some berries and other minor snacks. In essence, they are in a walking hibernation. It’s fascinating.

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We saw a hare. The only things that stood out were the black eyes and the black tips on his ears. Otherwise, he blended almost perfectly into the show. He was very still for the time we observed him.

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The rules here are strict. The saying goes, “a fed bear is a dead bear”. Once the bear gets used to getting food, they will begin breaking into cabins and frequenting areas where humans live. If that occurs more than a couple of times, the bears can be euthanized. The guides assured us that we had signed the agreement that said we wouldn’t feed the bears. They removed a tourist immediately from a trip early on and had her sent home for violating this rule.

The tundra rovers are required to stay on specific tracks. That allows bears and other wildlife that are afraid to move away and saves the plants that are tough enough to survive. The trees, which are few and far between, grow very slowly here and tend to have more branches at the bottom where they are protected by snow. Bonnie pointed out a tree that might have been 6-8 feet tall (it’s hard to judge the height when we are so far up) was probably 400 years old. It’s interesting how everything has adapted.

The educational session tonight was about the loss of the sea ice. Annie did a great job helping me understand more about global warming. I’m a bit leery of the “sky is falling” mentality that has become part of the global warming argument. I worked the Democratic National Convention and remember Al Gore’s people demanding a motorcade to escort him to the event. Really? Mr. Global Warming Guru?

Annie compared the polar ice to the rainforest and the destruction of ecosystems that support specific food chains and species. It was very compelling and it challenges me to become more aware of both sides of the science, or at least the parts I can understand. I get the rain forest comparison. I clearly have a lot of thinking to do.

It was another great day. I can’t believe we only have tonight and tomorrow night and then we head back to Winnipeg. Tomorrow is Tuesday and I’m home on Thursday. This trip is flying by and I want to grasp every precious moment.

Day Four- Churchill (Tundra Lodge)

I wrote my posts on the Tundra Lodge and we are back in Winnipeg,
so it’s time to catch up.

Wow! That kind of sums things up. We left for the airport where we took a chartered jet on Calm Airlines. So, no security, camera equipment safe, climb into and out of the airplane on the tarmac. I kind of like this bypass plan. Certainly was quicker.

Once we flew into the Churchill Airport, we loaded up to a bus that took us to the Churchill Wildlife Management sign for our “tourist” photo and then on to the polar rover. Within about twenty minutes, we saw our first polar bear. It was a long way off, but still an amazing experience. Another bear started walking across the tundra towards the second, who was sleeping on the shoreline. They never met up, but it was great to see. Then we saw a bear that was sleeping in the willows (bushes) along side the road. And this was just on the way from the airport to the lodge.

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This is the first bear we saw. It was a moment that took my breath away. He was clearly at a distance, but truly magnificent.

Then, once getting to the Tundra Lodge, we spotted a bear sleeping right next to the dining room/kitchen car. It would occasionally look up. It was incredible to be twenty feet from a large polar bear. I could have watched him all night. Beautiful.

The landscape is vast, remote, and incredibly beautiful. It is snowing hard and the wind is blowing the flakes sideways. One woman asked me about taking pictures of the snow. It was only the second time in her life to see it.

As I’m writing, I’m lying in my bed which is a lower bunk in a very small room. It isn’t what I would call luxurious, but it is comfortable and meets my sleeping needs. It’s actually kind of nice to have my own room. The bathrooms are much larger than I expected and have functional toilets and hot running water. Water is at a premium here so it will be short showers.

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There is a chef on the lodge and dinner was very good. We had chicken, couscous, broccoli and a tiramasu kind of dessert.

I put out my “Do Disturb” sign so that the guides would wake me up if there is any polar bear activity or northern lights, although it is a blizzard outside so the northern lights are a bit of a stretch. The lodge is swaying in the wind. Kind of like sleeping in a cradle.

There are twenty nine tourists on the lodge from mostly the USA, but also Australia and Brazil. Our guides, Bonnie and Annie, are amazing. They already know everyone’s name and go out of their way to make each of us feel welcome.

I had that incredible moment of watching the polar bear who was watching me. This is an amazing world with miraculous things. It’s part of the reason I travel. I just don’t want to miss anything.

Never too Late

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Elsa, you go girl!!

I’m definitely one who loves a new adventure. Adventure is a relative term. I don’t climb mountains or jump out of planes. I don’t even hike or bike for days at a time. I do love to travel to unusual places. I’m not a beach and umbrella drink kind of girl, at least for more than a day or two. When I go on vacation, I want to go where “no man” has gone before. Or at least where most people aren’t interested in going.

Why? For several reasons…first of all, I don’t like crowds. I like to be able to see, contemplate and really take in a new experience. I met a friend a few weeks ago that I only have known on social media. She cracked me up when she told me she didn’t really like people in general. I have those times, so I can definitely relate. I’m an introvert and I like to be alone sometimes, or almost alone, so I can recharge my batteries, so to speak.

The second reason I travel to places like Antarctica and Africa is because I’m fascinated by nature and wildlife. One of my favorite channels to watch is the National Geographic channel. A beach is a beach is a beach. I can be served drinks on a beach in Florida or Mexico or Tel Aviv. There are only a few places in the world where I can see three cheetah hunt zebra and where I can take a photograph that has cheetah in the foreground with wildebeest and zebra watching them. Oh, did I forget to mention that there is an elephant grazing (do elephants graze?) in the far background. And…there are only a few places where you can see polar bears in the wild.

Which brings me back to Elsa. Elsa, at 100, is headed to Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears. If my timing is right, she is flying with a group from Winnipeg today to board the Tundra Lodge in Churchill for several days worth of “once in a lifetime” polar bear viewing. A Natural Habitat Adventure staff member heard about her desire to go and the company made it happen. I love it when people help others make their dreams come true.

Elsa, you inspire me. I hope I am experiencing new things my whole life, too. Just wish I was there to see your face when you see the first of many polar bears. I’ll be there in a few weeks sharing your delight. We are both lucky girls.