Rebekah Farrell

I make art with ink, watercolor, and ancient magic

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Star-Picking

I really enjoyed this project. Focusing on two words and bringing them together to form an image and tell a story really simplified the creative process for me, and I was able to move quickly from idea to action.

First of all, I'm a sucker for trees and they occur a lot in my artwork. They're so organic, so full of character, and so easy to make distinct that I never tire of creating them. So I knew, right away, that I would most likely incorporate the word tree. Then, I just went down the list. I played with the words dream and tree at first, but the image I was composing seemed too complex and I wanted something I could finish in a few weeks.

So, after rethinking it, I chose the words universe and tree. I could clearly see a tree as a galaxy, connecting the various parts, with stars and planets emerging from its branches like fruit or flowers. But I didn't just want it to be a lonely universe, so I brought in a subject, a girl, who picks stars as easily as you or I pick apples. When I brought her into the image I knew there was a story there; there was somewhere for the viewer's mind to wander as she wonders about this mysterious girl and her basket full of stars.

Here are my brainstorming exercises.

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I finally settled on the last sketch. I wanted to include the roots as well as the branches, since space really has no above or below, no up or down, no over or under. Nothing's hidden in space. Everything's out in the open. So the roots, I thought, should be just as full as the branches so that the tree could be flipped and still seem upright.

Here's my initial drawing. Once I was finished I took it into photoshop, revved up the contrast, and reprinted another with darker lines. Even with my lightpad I find it helpful to reprint my art so the lines are darker.

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I was actually very excited to use a calligraphy pen on this project. It's something I've never done before. In the past I've used micron pens (I do a lot of stipple) and watercolors paints, but I really enjoyed how fluidly the calligraphy pen moved and how easy it was to control the length and thickness of my lines. I will definitely use it again.

Here's the piece with the inking done.

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For the coloring, I brought the inked piece into photoshop. I knew I wanted the stars to glow so I downloaded several light brushes until I found the perfect one. I experimented a lot with the colors and the background. Finally, I settled on an actually NASA photo of a globular cluster called M72. I set the layer oppacity to screen and put a lighter black beneath so the piece wouldn't look too dark. I used water color and light brushes to paint the tree bark and the girl. I left her a bit translucent so you could see the stars through her skin. I also added a bark texture to break up the flatness of the purple on the tree. I then added a border around the edge of the tree and decided I wanted to extend the edge of the picture beyond where I had it intially so it all appears framed within the sky.

And, well, that's pretty much it. Hope you all like it.

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