You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘specimens’ tag.

I’m in the process of packing up to move home and studio to a new city (albeit a nearby one) and it’s proving, not surprisingly, to be a time-and-energy-consuming process. Luckily I have a very attentive project manager keeping me on my toes…

gira - packing project manager

project manager gira oversees the packing process from atop a pile of boxes

In between house-hunting (& finding :), renovation work (& countless trips back and forth between Amsterdam and Haarlem), packing, and all the other stuff of life I’ve spent some enjoyable time finally completing my ‘noir’ specimen collection with this moth print

lepidoptera (noir) - limited edition screenprint

It’s printed in a limited edition of 13 (plus 1 AP) and completes this collection, made a couple of years ago…

specimen collection - limited edition screenprints

At that time I printed the moths as a four-colour screenprint, but I experienced some technical ‘snap-off’ problems when printing them, and also wasn’t fantastically happy with my colour choices – I felt the crisp, graphic lines of the original Indian ink drawing would be more satisfying as a one colour print (I’m a sucker for the graphic simplicity and velvety tactility of dense black screenprinting ink). Not wanting to waste those dud four-colour prints, I stained them with tea and set them free…

tea-stained moths

moth-bombing in the ardennes

in the hills above la roche-en-ardenne (ardennes, belgium)

moth-bombing in berlin

in st. elisabeth cemetery (berlin, germany)

moth-bombing in cape town

in tokai arboretum (cape town, south africa)

(and in several other places I no longer recall)

If you would like a single specimen or collection of your own, all of the (still available) prints from the ‘noir’ and colour series can be found in my Etsy shop. (I’ll temporarily close the shop from 19 September until ±1 October ± mid-October while I move etc.)

And now I must dash as I think I can hear my project manager calling…

gira - catnap

False alarm! He’s having a well-deserved catnap.

Soon after I had started work on the drawings for my ‘amateur naturalist’s specimen collection’ print series I was approached by Chômu Press about creating a book cover illustration for one of their new releases (Nick Jackson’s ‘The Secret Life of the Panda’). The brief I received from Chômu contained phrases like “There’s a scholar studying tiny creatures under a microscope in sixteenth century Holland” and “There are repeated animal references… (birds of various kinds, an ermine, a cockroach, a water flea, vipers, rabbits, fish, river dolphins and so on). Often these have a scientific quality – like the study of biology and anatomy, or the collecting of specimens” – Um… yes please! I’d like to work on that!

concept sketch & drawings for the book cover illustration

I presented several different concept sketches to Chômu, but it was the rough sketch of a collection of specimens laid out in a grid (intended to simply represent a specimen display cabinet as though viewed from above) that they wished to pursue… and so the early work I had done on my ‘specimen collection’ project inspired and informed the creation of the book cover illustration, and work on the book cover illustration fed back into my growing series of specimens. A very happy bit of synchronicity!

some of the drawings made for ‘The Secret Life of the Panda’ book cover

The author and the publisher made the bold (and exciting!) decision to leave the cover entirely, mysteriously free of text (apart from the ISBN on the back and the Chômu Press logo on the spine).

‘The Secret Life of the Panda’ book cover

I had the opportunity to read the book in its entirety earlier this year… it’s a hauntingly memorable “fusion of realism and dream-like fantasy”, an always intriguing, at times disturbing, collection of finely-crafted stories. But I am no skilled literary reviewer – you can read reviews and find out more about ‘The Secret Life of the Panda’ on the Chomu Press website >

* apparently not a valid Scrabble word… but I like it!

With the drawing, printing and hand-colouring finally complete, these little (each one is ±9x9cm), colourful specimen screenprints are now available in my shop >

I was glad to use this project as an opportunity to play with lots of colour, but while I was at it I couldn’t resist pulling a few clean, black-only prints. I do love the clarity and simplicity of a velvety black screenprint! These are also now available in my shop >

And I love the cobweb-on-a-frosty-morning quality that white ink on a darker background has, so I made a few variations in white on coloured pastel paper. These aren’t currently available in my shop, but if you’re in Amsterdam you can pick ’em up at the always awesome Otherist store [Leliegracht 6, 1015DE, Amsterdam]

If you’ve just arrived at this ‘Process, part III’ post but would like to start at the beginning you can find ‘Process, part I (drawing)’ here and ‘Process, part II (screenprinting)’ here

watercolour ‘testing’ strips

After printing was complete I hand-coloured additional details on some of the specimens – a wonderful opportunity to get my gouache and watercolour paints out and play some more with colour (which is not so scary after all ;). One of the great things about the screenprinting medium is the ability it gives you to print multiples relatively easily and quickly (once all the elements of the process are in place the difference between pulling one print or ten is negligible). I made more prints than I intended for the final editions so I would have lots of ‘blanks’ to play with while making hand-colouring decisions…

experimenting with different placements of the hand-coloured elements… and intrigued by how this radically (or subtly) affects the look & feel of an image.

testudines / tortoise shell specimen
hand-coloured details added in bronze and copper gouache

countless candy-coloured coleoptera legs

The hand-colouring part of the process was time-consuming but a lot of fun – it gave me plenty of opportunity to experiment with colour. And I love getting lost in a drawing’s details, to the point where everything else seems to fade away. I find there’s a lucidity that comes from repetition (albeit slightly different each time) – this is no doubt part of the appeal pattern has for us. Hand-colouring piles ‘n piles of prints was therefore a kind of moving meditation for me… very relaxing :)

echinoida / sea urchin

Well, that’s it for these ‘process’ posts – thanks for looking/reading! Next post – the completed print series…

If you’ve just arrived at this ‘Process, part II’ post but would like to start with ‘Process, part I (drawing)‘ you can find it here

Working in colour doesn’t come naturally to me – I always feel I’m entering uncharted (and thus, slightly scary) territory when I work with colour rather than my preferred black and white. But I was determined to step out of my monochromatic comfort-zone with this project and experiment with colour… plenty of it!

[1] thinking about colour, and [2] my inks mixed (I may be a little afraid of working with colour… but I love me a bit of gloopy ink mixing!)

a simple one-colour print – gorgonacea/sea fan coral
[1] screen prepared with image ‘stencil’ [2] printing (doesn’t that ink look utterly delicious!) [3] completed prints on drying rack

a four-colour print – lepidoptera/moths
[1] screen prepared with image ‘stencil’ for first colour (teal wings) [2] two colours printed [3] three colours printed [4] completed four-colour print

[1] the well-used, but trusty, “red table” @ the AGA, and [2] multi-colour prints in various stages of completion

Once the printing was complete I added hand-coloured details to some of the specimens… pictures of that third and final stage of the process coming up in my next post.

An aside:

The sharp-eyed amongst you might feel you’ve seen those moths before. If you saw my Berlin grafica Part I or Part II posts you’d be right! Unfortunately I had a few ‘snap-off’ problems when printing the fourth and final (black) colour – I stubbornly ignored these problems (hoping they’d go away!) rather than taking the extra time required to correct them. The result was a set of slightly sub-standard prints not up to scratch to be editioned… but perfectly acceptable for a bit of street art action (which I’ve dubbed ‘moth-bombing’ ;)

Hunnerpark, Nijmegen

Ackerstraße, Berlin

With a handful of prints and a box of pushpins permanently in my bag, more moths will no doubt be alighting in the parks and on the streets of various cities in the future…

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation


All images and words on this site are © suzanne norris / sakurasnow unless otherwise specified.


A gift from a friend @jessebreytenbach a couple of years ago, this tiny, beautiful artwork has taken on a deeper poignancy and significance… [Artist: Stephanie Simpson @me_and_norman] - #stayhome #isolation #art #hope #collage #foundtext #goldleaf #gold #crescent #moon #spring #blue #sky #birds #seagulls #soar -
There’s a cat among the pigeons... A very good reason to #stayhome Be safe, be well. - #idiom #pigeons #cat #grayson #grey #greeneyes #ThinGreyDuke #onelungedwonder #MegaLung #GraysonTheGreat #socks #catsofinstagram #catsofholland -
Venetian grafica, part II - #venice #winter #urbanenvironment #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #vermeer #scubamask #architecturalsculpture #stonework #pinecone #water #reflections #canals #seaweed #shrine #jesus #lion #planetearth #strongman #flare #emergency #climatechange #pattern #texture #colour #art - Credits: The ‘woman in scuba mask’ street art is by Blub, based on Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ c.1665. Other artist’s unknown (to me). - [Photos taken in November 2019, shortly before this vulnerable, fascinating city was once again flooded, and long before Italy went into the current lockdown state]
Venetian grafica, part I (part II to follow, because Venice is an incredibly visually rich place – what textures! what colours! what magnificent, ancient urban decay! – and I was incapable of culling my photos down to just the ten permitted by IG in a single post!) - #venice #urbanenvironment #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #architecturalsculpture #stonework #medieval #embellishment #grotesque #chimera #water #reflections #canals #damp #edvardmunch #scream #selfie #baroque #vivaldi #scubamask #violin #owl #tourist #raven #plaguemask #pattern #colour #art #climatechange - Credits: The ‘man with violin’ street art is by Blub, based on an anonymous portrait of (probably) Antonio Vivaldi c.1723. Other artists unknown (to me). - [Photos taken in November 2019, shortly before this vulnerable, fascinating city was once again flooded, and long before Italy went into the current lockdown state]
The only thing crazier than one one-lunged-wonder is two one-lunged-wonders! - #grayson #onelungedwonder #MegaLung #ThinGreyDuke #GraysonTheGreat #doppelgänger #doublevision #tightsqueeze #thecrazies #grey #cat #greeneyes #darkroom #blackoutcurtain #window #reflection #russianblue #catsofinstagram #catsofholland
Glasgow grafica… - #glasgow #scotland #winter #urbanenvironment #streetart #graffiti #urbanart #mural #mushrooms #amanitamuscaria #highrise #highway #creatures #animals #cat #entangled #yarn #birds #beak #steeple #sandstone #gardenshed #hedgehog #treeskeleton #silhouette #concretejungle #pattern #colour #art - (December 2019)

site archive

%d bloggers like this: