While Passing the Magellanic Cloud

TM8315 While Passing the Magellanic Cloud 20x36 oil on panel

TM8315 While Passing the Magellanic Cloud 20×36 oil on panel

The Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy neighboring our own Milky Way, is both mysterious and beautiful. With its luminous glowing gases, stars, and bands of dark dust it just begs to be painted. I like to imagine circling through and around it, taking in the views from different perspectives. Thanks to pictures from the Hubble Telescope, I have a starting point. Thank you NASA. On with the journey!

TM8315 While Passing the Magellanic Cloud - detail from center right

TM8315 While Passing the Magellanic Cloud – detail from center right

Technical painting notesWhile Passing the Magellanic Cloud is a somewhat complicated painting. It was developed using monoprint techniques and many glazes, all techniques described in some of my other cosmos posts. The band of dark dust passing across the entire lower portion of the painting was primarily achieved using a palette knife and a very soft wash brush. A mixture of dark blue-violet oil paint was mixed with Liquin Impasto medium, then applied loosely with a palette knife. While it was wet, I dragged the color with additional standard Liquin medium using a soft wash brush and a light touch.

Reflection Nebula #1

TM8314 Reflection Nebula #1 24x18 oil on panel

TM8314 Reflection Nebula #1 24×18 oil on panel

Ok, maybe it’s not the first nebula ever, and it definitely won’t be the last, but it is my first 24×18″ reflection nebula, and you are invited to float on by for a visit. Bands of dust and gas are partially obscuring some of the stars, and reflecting light from others, much like the clouds we see in our own atmosphere. Below is an enlarged detail from the top of the painting. Enjoy!

TM8314 Reflection Nebula #1 – detail from upper left center

Orchid Nebula

TM8313 Orchid Nebula 24x18 oil on panel

TM8313 Orchid Nebula 24×18 oil on panel

Is it a reflection nebula? or an orchid? Forms follow the laws of physics, whether on earth or beyond our atmosphere.  Looking at some of the Hubble photographs, a familiar subject can suddenly appear . In this case, the gases thrown off by a new white dwarf star seem to describe the form and color of an orchid.  Enjoy!

TM8313 Orchid Nebula - detail from center left

TM8313 Orchid Nebula – detail from center left

TM8313 Orchid Nebula - detail from upper right

TM8313 Orchid Nebula – detail from upper right

Birth of a White Dwarf

TM8312 Birth of a White Dwarf 30x36 oil on panel

TM8312 Birth of a White Dwarf 30×36 oil on panel

The nativity is a classic European Renaissance subject for paintings, but easily as dramatic is the nativity brought to us by the Hubble Telescope images. The planetary nebula designated NGC 2440 is home to one of the hottest white dwarf stars. In this painting, I show the dwarf star (at center) as it ejects its shell of gas. Looking at the photos from Hubble, I couldn’t help thinking that this is our new nativity, including the “halo” framing the intense star, hence Birth of a White Dwarf.

TM8312 Birth of a White Dwarf - detail from center left

TM8312 Birth of a White Dwarf – detail from center left

TM8312 Birth of a White Dwarf - detail from center right

TM8312 Birth of a White Dwarf – detail from center right

Technical painting notes: I began the painting using techniques from monoprint – rolling on a layer of blue/green/black paint then wiping away lights and adding textures by pressing and blotting into the wet paint with crumpled plastic. When this layer was dry, I used thinly washed transparent and semi-transparent layers of oil glaze to develop the color. One compositional problem was how to avoid too much emphasis on the center. I manipulated the halo and introduced off-center bands of luminous gas to draw the viewer’s eye into and around the painting. I also introduced some bright stars showing through the gas to increase the sense of depth in the painting.

Among the Lessor Gods

TM8311 Among the Lessor Gods 36x36 oil on panel

TM8311 Among the Lessor Gods 36×36 oil on panel

So many of the early constellations were named for, or inspired thoughts of, the deities. Mulling over that idea, I couldn’t help but wonder which gods were missed? or forgotten? and where were they? I considered that they might be hidden behind a reflection nebula, and that if I could look around the edge I might just find them. It worked! An entire arc of lessor gods twinkling their little hearts out. Enjoy!

TM8311 Among the Lessor Gods (detail form right side)

TM8311 Among the Lessor Gods (detail form right side)

Origins

TM8310 Origins 36x36 oil on panel

TM8310 Origins 36×36 oil on panel

Origins, it might mean where we come from, or refer to our brain formulating an idea, or maybe the way our imagination can enable both fact and fantasy – that glimpse of the possible that so excites us. With this painting, I am exploring all of the above. We are part of the cosmos, our universal home, and we are looking at stars, organizing them in a very human way. On the left side of the painting, I’ve included a graphic representation of synapse connections – the origin of imaginative thought (and an interesting visual parallel to the constellations).

TM8310 Origins (detail from top center)

TM8310 Origins (detail from top center)

TM8310 Origins (detail from middle left showing synapse chart)

TM8310 Origins (detail from middle left showing synapse chart)

TM8310 Origins (detail from lower right showing constellations)

TM8310 Origins (detail from lower right showing constellations)

In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula

TM8309 In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula 36x36 oil on panel

TM8309 In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula 36×36 oil on panel

The oil painting In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula is both real and imaginary. The painting is inspired by photographs from the Hubble telescope, but with a strong element of artistic license.  The Rosette Nebula was the direct inspiration, with its opening flower form and red tones. But I started the painting with dark blue greens, and because I rely on chance-filled monoprint techniques for the initial gestures, my rose became a lotus – appropriate since my last painting was dedicated to Ravi Shankar, the great Indian musician of the sitar, and master of musical meditation.  So here we are again, with Ravi in this light-filled corner of  the cosmos, meditating, and perhaps entertaining the idea of naming the constellations we just happened to find here. Enjoy!

Below are enlargements of parts of the painting.

TM8309 In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula -detail from lower right

TM8309 In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula -detail from lower right

TM8309 In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula - detail from lower left

TM8309 In the Vicinity of the Lotus Nebula – detail from lower left

Technical painting notes – While the painting’s final tones are middle to light in value, the initial layer of paint was a dark blue/black, which was manipulated with mineral spirits, rags, and paper towels to create the basic composition. When this stage was dry, many layers of glaze (both transparent and semi-transparent) were brushed on, and the details of the stars and constellation either highlighted or painted in. The decorative spirals along the left and right sides (symbols of energy and of spiral galaxies) were achieved by removing layers of glaze.