Friends of the Littlest Friend: Rebecca Hartness

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Friends! I am so very excited as I write up this interview. Rebecca is one of my dearest friends, and is such a huge encouragement in my life. When we were both living in Seattle, we would talk endlessly about how to incorporate art and creativity into our science-driven lives, trying to figure out that balance between passions. I dearly miss these talks, as well as our art nights where we would work on projects together, listen to good music, and stay up for too many hours talking and creating art.

I love Rebecca’s work– from my own perspective, she seems to weave such a beautiful line between realism and the abstract. She has a knack for taking a recognizable image, and add her own spin to the color composition, perspective, or pattern. Recently, I’ve gotten the chance to see more of her photography, and I so appreciate the chance to see the world through her lens.

What are your creative outlets? Do you have a favorite medium? While there are many different creative outlets that I enjoy, I would say that drawing, acrylic painting, and photography are my primary mediums. One of my favorite things to do is blend painting with drawing, specifically more of a loose, free-form style of painting with realistic, life-like drawings. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, but it wasn’t until college that I really got into photography while I was studying photojournalism. I also really enjoy doing pinhole photography. Several years ago, I bought a pinhole camera kit that you had to build yourself. I loved the process of building the camera itself and the fact that it requires film. It’s a very different process and mindset than with digital photography.

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How cool to actually build the pinhole camera! And what a different approach to photography in an age where phones allow us to take and edit photos within seconds. Tell me a little more about the different mindset between using a pinhole camera rather than digital. With pinhole photography, it’s just a completely different process. You have to manually expose the film by literally lifting the shutter to let light in through the “pinhole.” With the manual settings on a digital camera, you’re choosing the aperture and shutter speed, so there is an element of control there. But there is something about actually counting down the exposure time and physically moving the shutter that makes the process just feel more raw. Another important element is controlling for movement. If the subject moves, or if camera itself moves even in the slightest during the exposure, the result will be a blurry photo. I think I just like the fact that so many of my senses are involved. It makes me feel like I am one with my camera and subject.

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What do you see as the goal or purpose behind the work you do? This is something that has changed and evolved for me over time, but at the end of the day, I’ve found that the most important thing is the act of creating art at all, whether that be for monetary gains or just the joy of creating. Whenever the two can blend together, of course, that’s always a plus. But I’ve struggled over the years, especially as an adult working full-time in a science-based vocation, with trying to “justify” art-making. The devil on my shoulder likes to say, “What is the point of this?” or “Why would you create when you could be doing something more productive?” But the drive to create art fuels more than just a productivity requirement. Turns out it’s a soul issue, that influences and affects every other part of my life. I see art as exercise in a way. If I were to exercise every part of my body, but neglect my right arm, eventually it would atrophy. The rest of my body would be strong, but the atrophied arm would eventually impede the ability of the rest of my body to function at its fullest potential. Creating art is like exercising my right arm– I must exercise it no matter what, and utilize it for all it is capable of in order to live out my identity to the fullest.

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How did you get started? As a kid, I would go around my house and do still-life drawings of various objects, figurines, plants, photos, etc. I always loved drawing from life, and would try to make my drawings as detailed and realistic as possible. I remember really wanting to get better at drawing people and faces. There was this art book that I had seen at the Michael’s craft store called How to Draw Faces. I saved up my money for months so I could buy it. I must have been around 10 or 11, but I feel like that book changed my life! I studied and practiced every exercise in the book and really saw my drawing skills go to a new level. In fact, I still utilize many of the techniques I learned from that book today!

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I’m pretty sure I bought that same book back in the day! Do faces continue to be your favorite subject to draw, or are there other images you gravitate towards as well? These days, I gravitate more toward objects, animals, and other details. I haven’t done a human portrait in a while, but I do still enjoy it.

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What inspires your work? I’m inspired by things in life– people, nature, trees, mountains, plants, animals, bicycles, vegetables… I really enjoy blending realistic images with bright, messy paint. Perhaps it’s my brain’s attempt at balancing my inclinations toward both the left and the right. It’s just very satisfying to throw paint all over a canvas, and then put something really detailed and precise over the top of it. In terms of photography, I most enjoy capturing people with environmental portraiture and documentary-style photography. With pinhole photography, you can’t really do “action” shots, because of the nature of the process, so the (mostly) static shots of trees, buildings, etc. are my go-to with that.

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Are there other artists that you look up to, or who inspire you? I am inspired by a wide array of photographers, film makers, and creative types. I am often drawn to and inspired by documentary photography and films– from extreme sports to global and social issues. There isn’t one particular person or artist that I would say I look up to, but I am honestly inspired on a daily basis just by many of the other photographers and artists I have found through the Instagram community. I’m also inspired by music of all kinds.

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What projects are you working on right now? Anything you are particularly excited about? I recently finished creating a new website called Flying Trees, which I’m super excited about! On my site are samples of some of my art and photography, as well as my blog, where I’ll be interviewing and featuring other artists, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. I’ll also be sharing personal updates and other creative lifestyle tidbits. I feel like there are so many amazing people out there doing great work, and making cool products that the world needs to know about. I’m also working on a collective online space, to be used as a resource for consumers seeking alternatives to mainstream products and services. Stay tuned…!

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Do you have any advice or encouragement for people who want to pursue their own creative outlets? Just do it! I have tons of dreams and creative goals for the future that may or may not happened… But the only way to truly find out is to try! If you are a creative type, the most important thing is to never stop creating. You might not share everything you create with the world, and not everything you create will necessarily serve an obvious purpose for your life… But each piece of work you create will lead you to the next piece, which will lead you to the next piece… which may turn out to be your best work yet! If you have creativity in your blood, it is there for a reason. Live your creative life to the fullest and never stop pursuing your goals.

Where can people learn more about your work? Check out my website at www.flyingtrees.co. You can also follow along on Instagram at @flying_trees.

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Thank you so much for stopping by the blog to read my latest interview, and thanks to Rebecca for sharing her work and her heart.

Have a beautiful day! xo

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