Since last fall I’ve been making cyanotypes from my drawings, which I’ve written about here a few times over the past year. It’s a work in progress, which I am continuing to develop, but I wanted to share some of what I have finished so far, and some of my thoughts behind it. This collection of images, Encounters with the Spirit World, is a series of cyanotype prints of animals and plants that are spiritually significant to me. In creating the drawings that I print from, and the handling of the printing process, I try to connect with the soul and essence of my subjects.
I select subjects – mostly animals, but also plants and inanimate objects – that have a story to tell. I use my training as a naturalist and science illustrator to make accurate observations, but I am mostly interested in the spiritual connection between humans and nature. I spend intense time observing and distilling shapes and textures onto the page. The process is meditative and allows me to connect with my subjects- in some sense they come alive and we communicate, projecting ourselves onto each other. My goal is to capture the feeling I get when I see a lynx before it disappears into the forest, or when I startle an owl off the road with a kill. It is a feeling that is beautiful, fleeting, mysterious, complex, and also I believe universal.
I create cyanotypes outside using sunlight and wash them in my local mineral-rich water, so the physical environment has a hand in the final artwork, making each print slightly different. I am trying to capture an ephemeral and soulful quality of my subjects with variation in line quality, from sharp to blurry, and with the absence of a definitive background. For example in the Jackrabbit prints, the animal gets blurry as it moves away from the viewer. In the pair of wolves, one animal seems to be a spirit or ghost while his reflection is more solid and defined.
In developing these images I hope to create my own personal mythology based on my encounters with natural history as well as cultural stories and traditions. In the modern world I believe there is a growing disconnect between how we live and our understanding of nature. As the natural world continues to change, I feel a sense of solastalgia, or nostalgia for my surroundings.
All images (c) Kristin Link 2017.