Natasha Zahn Pristas: Water colorist, block printer

Arts Profile

Posted: Thursday, March 08, 2001

D Street designer: Natasha Zahn Pristas is the artist and proprietor of D Street Designs. Her block prints and watercolors have decorated wedding announcements, stationery and note cards, and she's designed stamps and logos for musicians and businesses.

Each of her cards is hand-painted. She's found a balance between production and originality. She has the line elements printed or copied onto the cards, and then she watercolors the cards individually.

She also has been experimenting with photocopying her black and white photographs on to high-quality watercolor paper, and then painting them.

Her work features flowers, landscape, and scenes from her garden.

"I have the most luck working with a live plant in front of me," she said.

Egg-sucking leech and Skykomish sunrise: Her husband, Brent, is an avid fly fisherman, and she's done a series of stationery cards that sport colorful watercolors of curiously-named steelhead and salmon flies and streamers. Her cards and originals are available at fly fishing shops in Juneau and Sitka, at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and Caribou Crossings.

Linguist turned artist: Zahn Pristas grew up in Juneau and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1987. She studied art and printmaking at the University of Oregon, but earned her degree in linguistics. She taught and tutored at the University of Alaska Southeast after her return to Juneau in 1991, and quit to work on art full time in 1999.

"I didn't have the drive to put all those things on paper like other students, I wasn't driven to produce," she said of her university days. "But now the time is right."

She prefers the fluidity of watercolor to acrylic, and said she's learning to paint quickly for best results.

"You can really torture things if you try to work on them too much," she said.



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