Creating "The Boatman"

It was one of those mornings where I woke way before the alarm and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was nearly 5am and my mind was racing with thoughts and ideas so instead of getting lost on my phone and risk waking my wife. I got up and crossed the hall to my home studio – a small box room with just enough room for my desk and books.

I started playing with ideas. Making marks with whatever I found and soon got into the groove and put my headphones on. I was wide awake now. There was no stopping me.

Creativity has this ability to take over you – it’s like a fire inside that suddenly springs to flame with no warning.

As I was playing in my studio I made a mark on acetate using acrylic paint and my finger. Just a smear of paint but the wet paint caught the light and with it my attention.

It glistened and you could see closely my fingerprint smeared across the surface. It reminded me of being on holiday and looking down from a clifftop at the sea – seeing the waves in sets rolling in and the sun catching the surface like diamonds.

Music has always inspired my work – either directly or just being there zoning me into my tasks. This morning was no different.

Suddenly a random track started in my headphones and I was gone. The Boatman by Levellers. Levellers are a band I’ve loved since my teens and this song speaks about the desire of being free and in charge of ones destiny.

If I could choose the life I pleased
Then I would be a boatman
Along the canals and the rivers free
No hasty words are spoken
My only law the river breeze
Would take me to the open seas
If I could choose the life I pleased
Then I would be a boatman

I wish I could choose the life I please
But I am not a free man
Others choose my destiny
But my will is never broken
I know someday I will be
Everything that I dreamed I’d be
If I could choose the life I pleased
Then I would be a boatman

The Boatman lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

So whilst bopping along to this track I decided to create an image that used the fingerprint marks that when enlarged massively it looks like a river flowing or some kind of estuary. The trick was playing with scale. Blowing up the fingerprint so it was too big and then placing a tiny fishing boat illustration on it would throw the viewer off and give an illusion of a boat leaving foam in its wake.

The Final Image

Once I had all the components I scanned everything on my phone and created a digital collage in Adobe Photoshop. This allowed me to play with the scale and colour balance to bring in the blue. Due to not having a decent camera and the ink being too wet to scan I opted to show the image at an angle, cropping the image tight so the audience can only see the ripples and not really guess it was a finger-painting that started it all.

I spoke to my local printing firm Indigo Giclée who specialise in professional quality art prints. After pouring over some beautiful paper stocks we printed the final image on some beautiful Hahnemühle Bamboo art paper which is a mixture of 90% bamboo and 10% cotton rag, which is not only environmentally friendly it gives an immaculate matte finish allowing the detail to do the shining.

Creating "The Boatman" by The Rik Barwick Studio
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Art Prints

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