- This year, I was invited to join Tokyo's "Sakura Exhibition," an art show revolving around the theme of sakura (cherry blossoms.) Sakura are a very ephemeral flower, and in Japan they are symbolic of mortality. Since this piece was created just after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami (and the organizers of the event, HYACCA, have been trying to raise aid money for the victims,) I wanted to express a hopeful image for the people of Japan -- the beauty and warmth of a returning spring season.
- The preliminary sketch. The character featured is my Japanese-American girl, Shifuu Sakurai. Since it's the year of the rabbit -- and, well, I just really like rabbits -- I decided to incorporate a rabbit companion into the piece that helps represent Japan's love for nature, while her rabbit-ear headphones and modern hair accessories tie her to the present.
- Adding some detail. I shifted her away from the dead center to make the composition a little more interesting.
- Inked lineart. It was easiest for me to keep each major element on its own layer, even if that meant filling in details that would be covered up once the image was assembled and finished (like her cute bunny-tail obi...)
- Trying out palettes.
- The finished piece. I chose to paint butterflies on her kimono, partly because they are an appropriate spring pattern, and partly for their symbolization of rebirth and the soul. Spring is coming, and I know the people of Japan will persevere!