At my university I signed on to be involved in a independent study and design and build an exhibit. The subject matter was dark matter. Dark matter is a type of theoretical matter that most of the universe of comprised of. While most physicists will dispute this – dark matter is similar in concept to luminiferous aether – its an invisible “something”. Dark matter is believed to exist due to 2 primary visible evidences – gravitational lensing and galaxy clusters.
In some cases, observed via the Hubble telescope for example, it is observed that the light of stars and galaxies will bend and warp around “something.” This phenomenon is attributed to dark matter. The second indication something is out there is the fact that outer stretches of galaxies are held in by something…like a glue. If you think of a carousel or the spinning ride at playgrounds, if you spin it around fast and the children aren’t holding on to anything, they’ll go flying off. Likewise, the outermost planets, solar systems and objects of a galaxy are holding on to their spiraling galaxies by “something.”
So from this point for a while, I became immersed in outer space. Heading out late into the night with my telescope, just generally in awe at the vastness and abstract beauties we are only able to now see with the space program.
I wanted to do a painting of space, but I wasn’t sure what I could do without coming across as being a bit cheesy. This was before I started using oil paints, so acrylic paint was a given. We had just moved and I had a leftover sheet of plywood from building a skateboard box. When I started this painting, I had really only done a handful before it in a pointillist style. I knew a 3ft x 4ft painting – one dot at a time – was going to take a very long time, but painting a nebula or just outer space in general, I felt the painting needed to be large just on that merit alone.
The painting has two distinct techniques – the first being the blackness of space. I began painting from the top left corner in a style similar to the cats and the woman with the drink – a side brush mark in which the marks have a deliberate direction and organization. This technique, when done the entirety of the piece, produces a very nice mosaic look about it and everything looks to be just in its right place. However, I decided to do something different with this piece and when the composition moves towards the nebula, I switch to a tip-point marking. This was done both for contrast, as well as a time-reduction method.
With the side brush stroke, the markings must be packed together firmly and flow in a deliberate and highly organized manner, where as tip-point marking does not. But this isn’t the only reason. When considering a nebula…gigantic stretches of gas through space – this gas is like gas on earth…constantly dissipating, constantly moving…think of a cloud here on earth – you may look up and see a cloud that looks like a dog (why do so many clouds look like dogs anyway??) but after a minute or so, the cloud has moved from your perception of it or dissipated to the point it no longer resembles it…in fact, the cloud may have totally evaporated and isn’t even there any more.
This is the fleeting existence I also wanted to convey, like you could just blow the picture away, like powder.
Within the nebula are the famous Pillars of Creation – which I envision as the eagle’s talons. It was this section of the painting I tried to brighten and convey the most focus on. Initially the painting was only going to be this section, but I opted to make it a part of the whole nebula, which stretches 5,700 light years across.
I like the painting. I have it for sale through my Etsy shop and I have not shown it anywhere else…perhaps in large part because everywhere has been closed this past year…though I would prefer to sell it locally as I am apprehensive to ship it. All in all it took around 60 hours to produce.