- Artist Interview
- 09/14/2023 @ 8:15 AM
Rachael, I absolutely love your work and I'm so glad I came across it. To begin, can you introduce yourself to our community? Your name, where you are from and the mediums you work in?
Thank u Dave! I completely dig your work too! Yeah, so hello I’m Rachael, a landscape artist. My work documents real trees and locations, yet is woven with strings of fantasy and memory. I make drawings in pen and ink that have microscopic detail but oftentimes a monumental feel.
My Current work is based upon the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in CA. Some trees here are as old or older than the pyramids. Each pillar of time grows slowly, battered and twisted by its extreme conditions. I envision myself in the future walking amongst their ruins looking for what life is left behind.
I feel pretty new to the digital art/ NFT scene but have been a professional artist for about 25 years, and drawing since I was 8 yrs old. I grew up in Indiana but have lived and exhibited coast to coast- NYC to LA. I am currently based in a new studio in the UK. With all those years of experience in the traditional art world, I’ve never experienced a truly supportive community filled with such vivacity as I see here in NFT world.
As for mediums…. I use an iPhone camera for my prep work, and Faber-Castelle and Micron marker pens, acrylic ink on frosted mylar (polyester film) for my drawings. I start by photographing the locations I’m inspired by from many different angles. Then, I make photo collages in photoshop and by hand as “sketch” references. This gives me a rich source for details in the drawings.
Once I’m working with ink pens, I think in layers (worked many years as a printmaker) and draw both on the frontside and backside of the semi- transparent mylar. These drawings serve as the base for my NFTs which have been digitally manipulated in photoshop or animated via tv paint. I love to collaborate with friends, so have also worked with other animators or musicians.
The level of detail you are able to achieve is truly astounding. What sort of time do you put into each individual piece?
☺️ thank u! It varies by size. smaller works, 1-2 weeks, medium, 1-2 months, and the largest (4-6 ft) drawings take 2-3 months. I usually average 12-15 works per year. My turnover is quite small and slow.
I’m at home working quite large. This is my favorite scale.
I'm curious about the influences that have inspired you over the years. What other artists, both from the past and present, do you look to for inspiration?
The Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and The Never-ending Story are three of my favorite Jim Henson childhood films. He worked with conceptual designer and artist Brian Froud. The sets and characters that came from that partnership have a life of their own. Remember the Swamp of Sadness in The Never-ending Story? He created an imaginative landscape so realistically- dead tangled trees in the mud, marshy and barren wasteland. I fell in love with those intricate, dark and epic scenes. Ul de Rico, another artist that worked on those movies, blends the vivid and romantic to create such unique scenes.
James Turrell’s work with light and space looms large in my mind. I went on a field trip to the Indianapolis museum of art when I was 15. At some point I stumbled across a big room with one grey painting in it. I approached it and it wasn’t until you were practically touching the thing that one realizes it isn’t a painting at all. It was a rectangular hole with an entire other space beyond the wall. I think that was the first time I really thought about the transformative nature of art and materials.
Ahh and there are too many contemporary influences to list, so I’ll just mention my studio mate, Tadashi Moriyama. He is my husband, who makes detailed, colorful, and surreal scifi-esque works. He was making insanely detailed bird’s-eye cityscapes using Koh-i-Noor pens when we lived in Brooklyn back in late 00s. I stole some of his pens from his table and started making detailed drawings on my own. Prior to that I was making minimal figurative work on fabric. So a big shift. We are very different stylistically. Our work, unconsciously, started seeping into each others.
I’m currently creating landscapes that are loosely based upon the ending of Urashima Taro, a Japanese folktale. In this story, Urashima returns to his homeland after traveling thru a watery underworld for just 3 days. As his footsteps fall upon the shore, he realizes that he does not recognize the landscape and cannot find anyone he knows. Three hundred years have passed; in his grief he opens a box he was given during his journey. Within a cloud of white smoke, he is instantly aged (and in some versions dies.)
I think about the ending of this story when I travel from my current home back to my childhood forests of Franklin, IN. The forests I knew are not the same and many times already unrecognizable. Many large trees have been logged, are dead or dying, or have been cleared away for various reasons. Others have thrived, surviving many destructive elements.
When I imagine what my home forests could look like in some distant future my mind travels to the places I’ve hiked and journeyed that seem both ancient and surreal. I think about the cracked baked earth and the Great Basin Bristlecone Pines (and Douglas firs) I’ve encountered in Utah. These pines thrive in severe environments and are some of the most ancient living organisms on the earth.
I would like to tell the rest of the journey of Urushima Taro, thru the American landscape (without characters). I hope to expand my travels to all the little corners of the States documenting trees and creating fantastic places.
I recently moved to the UK, Chipping Norton. It is a market town in the Cotswolds Hills. It feels ancient compared to Los Angeles. There are stone buildings and forests covered in moss, lichens and tangled in ivy. It is so green and lush. Yesterday, I walked through a field of flaxseed in bloom with never-ending purple flowers with my family. In the middle of it was a dying tree. It was such a strong image. I’m sure this space will trickle into the work somehow.
What is some advice that you'd give to someone who is earlier on their creative path?
I feel like the expectation in my answer might be that I will provide some nuggets that would help lead to financial and professional success. Disclaimer: I’ve never made a living from my artwork and have worked a variety of jobs to piece things together. I also have young kids so it is a juggle. For me, balancing time by keeping a schedule is really important for maintaining my studio practice.
When I was a younger artist I remember a time when I had a lot of outside pressure on me to change the way I worked and to pursue a more conceptual path. The more I pursued this way of working the more I seemed to struggle.
Then one night, I had a dream in which I met the sweetest old lady and she invited me to her home. When I arrived, I wasn’t sure if I should stay. I noticed, 2 figures hanging upon the wall. One had a head atop a perfectly formed torso all glowing in a blue- white light. The memory of how beautiful it was still takes my breath away. It reassured me everything was ok. The other figure was a ribcage that was opening and closing like a butterfly revealing its bloody interior. A head thrashed amongst its guts. This figure told me to run, it was unsafe and the old woman planned to kill me. I knew the second figure was telling me the the truth.
When I woke I thought about this struggle in myself to trust my mind or my gut. In the end, I followed the advice of the dream. I trust my gut and at times when I draw am in quite a trance. I think my art has grown in ways I wouldn’t have expected and for the better. We all have different filters but it helps to be in tune with what your filter is. I find that experimentation has always helped me relocate what resonates with my inner self.
So beautifully said. Some of my favorite advice we've published thus far. Rachael, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. I love your work and I'm eager to continue to see it grow. To the reader, connect with Rachael Pease at her Linktree, and share this far and wide.