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BookSmithStudio.com | Nikki Smith Book & Visual Artist

Handmade books and various art explorations

Posts Tagged ‘space’

Ground Control to Major Tom – Out of this world artwork!

January 26th, 2014 by Nikki Smith
Ground Control to Major Tom; artwork copyright Nikki Smith 2013; All Rights Reserved
Ground Control to Major Tom, Copyright by Nikki Smith, All Rights Reserved. (Fine art prints here.)
Responsible pinning and social sharing with credit and a link appreciated.

“Ground Control to Major Tom” is a digital painting created stroke by stroke by Nikki Smith. This piece was inspired by the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, recently recorded *in space* by astronaut Chris Hadfield on the International Space Station in a captivating video:

(Thanks, NASA, for the reference photos!)

I love the lyrics of the song, too:

“Ground control to major Tom
Ground control to major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
(Ten) Ground control (Nine) to major Tom (Eight)
(Seven, six) Commencing countdown (Five), engines on (Four)
(Three, two) Check ignition (One) and may gods (Blastoff) love be with you

This is ground control to major Tom, you’ve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare

This is major Tom to ground control, I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
Here am I sitting in a tin can far above the world
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do

Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles, I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
Ground control to major Tom, your circuits dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you…
Here am I sitting in my tin can far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do”

(Lyrics by David Bowie)

After a recent trip to NASA with the kiddos I discovered that I hadn’t yet shared this artwork on my blog. Shame on me! NASA was a great experience for our kids, who especially loved the “Angry Birds In Space” area. Way to make learning fun, NASA! Here is one of my little astronauts now:

One of my little astronauts at NASA

Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars…

May 31st, 2013 by Nikki Smith

I love music.  I love how it can sweep me away, create a mood, give me energy and lift my spirits.  More and more, I’m seeing my artwork reflect the music that inspires me to create.  This piece is no exception:

Copyright Nikki Smith, 2013; All Rights Reserved.
Model: Jenna Kellen as photographed by: Marcus Ranum

Can you hear the music?  That’s Frank Sinatra singing:

“Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, darling, kiss me

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

(Lyrics written by Bart Howard in 1954)

In the interest of introducing you to a new musical artist you can’t live without, here is a beautiful cover of this song by musician Daniela Andrade:

And here is a classic performance by Frank Sinatra in 1969, dedicated to the astronauts who had just landed on the moon:

Now, can you hear the music?  Life is full of song and beauty, everywhere you turn.  You just need to listen…

Photo Collage Portrait – Beta

May 25th, 2009 by Nikki Smith

Photo Collage, Beta

After a long abscence from art, I’m finally making the time to create once more.  Recently I stumbled across the mixed media illustrations of Annette Mangseth and she inspired me to create this portrait of my niece Beta.  While I love the whimsical and captivating style of Annette’s work, I wanted to make this portrait more personal and give it my own sense of style.  I knew that it needed to incorporate music in some way, to represent Beta’s talents and interests.  I began with a nice childhood photograph of my niece and a head full of ideas.  Then the fun began!

Step 1: Find a great photo

Steps in the making of a portrait collage:

My husband Joseph was a great help on this project, providing the musical score and several variations of Beta’s photo using PhotoShop filters as a starting point for the portrait as well as valuable feedback throughout the process.

Variations with Photoshop Filters

I chose a watercolor filter effect on the face for it’s soft colors and simplicity.  Then, I masked out the background of the photo and created a shape for Beta’s new wind-blown hair to replace her up-do on the photo.  This area would later be collaged to compliment the portrait.

photocollage_beta_step3At first, I envisioned collaging white musical notes on black for her hair, like so:


I loved this concept, but it didn’t feel complete.  After moving things around to incorporate a new musical score a “happy accident” occurred.  Instead of covering her hair, the music overlaid her face.  Lovely!

photocollage_beta_step5My next step was to clean-up the rough outline of the hair, smoothing curves and adding a few extra locks on her forehead.  Then I erased her original bangs from the photo.

Next I experimented with several ideas for collage elements to represent her hair.  I was drawn to photos of nature, both my own and ones from my extensive collection of free images.

A thick black outline around her hair and figure helped to define the image.

I had two favorite elements for the hair (trees on a crisp winter day, and a whirlpool galaxy) and just couldn’t choose.  I decided to use both, playing on her name “Beta.”  I flipped one image right-to-left and positioned the girls with their hair overlapping.

photocollage_beta_step6The final step was choosing a background for the collage.  I made a small-scale copy of my collaged Beta’s to experiment with and swapped in dozens of potential backgrounds, from textured papers, fabrics and “found textures” to solid colors and nature scenes.  My favorite was a simple image of clouds and blue sky.  I then switched back to work at full-scale.  I aligned the clouds with Beta’s eyes to draw the viewer’s eyes and as a final touch I added a few stars in the sky.

I am looking forward to creating more custom collage portraits in the near future.  Stay tuned!