Vija Celmins – Images of Space

I’ve been looking round for artists who look at space differently from the majority of space/astro art. A lot of space art is heavily inspired by the film industry or by more scientific illustration and this is reflected in the sort ofย  images that they produce.

This is where I saw stumbled across a series of picutres by Vija Celmins. She has deliberately made these images almost abstract with no major landmarks to allow the viewer to orientate themsleves.

To really appreciate these images requires more than a passing glance. They need to be carefully studied over a period of time for all the details to be fully taken in.

It’s interesting to see a more contemplative approach to space.

Multitasking Toothbrushes

I’ve finally managed to get at the Uni’s A3 scanner. I’ve done a couple of larger pieces with the graphite in order to solve my problem with the backgrounds. In order to produce a convincing looking star field I used a toothbrush to splatter masking fluid on to the paper first. It produces very small and regular shaped dots but randomly spaced, so ideal to give the sense of distant stars.

This is the scan of the original drawing that I did as a try-out for the splattering effect, with this I was thinking Triffid nebula. Because the graphite I’ve been using is quite hard it has come out on the grey side. I’ve got my hand on some 6b graphite so I should be able to fix this.

I’ve tried to make the original more contrasty to bring out the stars, suing the GIMP

And this is my attempt at adding colour.

And then I did this one ๐Ÿ™‚

More Fun With Graphite

So I’ve had a lovely weekend involving a nasty headache and throwing up repeatedly. I know how to have fun :-D. I’ve still managed to do some drawing and stuff though.

After getting my hands on some more graphite dust I’ve done some more experimenting with it. I’ve even been looking at possible ways of combining it with colour from pastels.

So not an imaginative startย  and I don’t think the resist stars worked on the second one. I’m going to try a toothbrush to apply it as a splatter next time.

These are the ones where I’ve mixed in a little colour. I think I’m on to something with these ones.

These came out a little dark ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . The problem with graphite is it’s highly reflective so very difficult to photograph accurately especially with a flash.

I Survived :-)

So the work check went ok and the tutor didn’t tell me my dissertation proposal wasn’t clear enough so I can breath a bit more easily now ๐Ÿ™‚

So have a David Malin pic…

This was the first really wow space image I ever saw back in 1980 something…ages ago. It was the front cover of my first astronomy book (which I still have). I don’t just like it because of the nostalgia, I love the intense contrast and the huge numbers of stars, some of which look as if they’re peeking out of the gas cloud. It’s a very carefully composed image.

Dissertation Blues :-(

I’m just writing the proposal for it now and I swear this thing has got me in cold sweats. Ive never really had to write my own essay question/title before so this has been a very interesting challenge.The really difficult challenge I think has being making sure that it related to my negotiated project in some way while not being about exactly the same thing.

So this is the sort of thing that I’ve got in mind…

I’ve decided on the title “Visualising the Unseen”…

and the break down goes something like this…

Introduction โ€“ Most scientific research produces non-visual information which artists then have to work with in order to produce a believable image of the desired astronomical object.

Chapter 1 โ€“ What sort of images does the science produce? Many of the images are taken at different wavelengths from the visible due to the increased information that they can give the scientist about an otherwise invisible or apparently mundane object.

Chapter 2 โ€“ Teasing out the potentially useful visual information from the science. This is important to enable the artist to produce which are believable and as realistic as the available information allows.

Chapter 3 โ€“ Turning the art on the science. Making the science aesthetically pleasing. It is very nice making accurate (as we can get them) depictions of objects such as brown dwarfs but it is also important that they are pleasing to the eye so that they are enjoyable to look at. The nature of the subject matter, objects suspended in infinite space great distances from one another, produces unique compositional challenges.

Chapter 4 โ€“ Rising visual conventions. The more they are depicted the more a particular object will be depicted in the same manner.

Conclusion – The importance of keeping a balance between the visual aesthetics and the scientific information imbedded in the image.


I’m just hoping my tutor is alright about it or I don’t know what I’ll do ๐Ÿ˜ฆ





Drawing From Photos

What I tried to do with these was to copy an actual photo ofย  Jupiter in another media to see how well I could get the effect of the clouds.

So this was effort number 1, (compressed charcoal strategically rubbed out)…

from this photo…

And this was effort number 2, (just straight pastels)…

From this photo…

And then I ran out of fixative ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Gas Giants and Their Weather

I’ve been looking at ways in which I can make my depiction of brown dwarfs more interesting so I’ve taken a look at the sort of weather that our gas giants experience. Things like aurora and lightning storms for instance.

Aurora first, here are ones on Saturn

And Jupiter…

While here’s some lightning…

…on Saturn.

…and Jupiter.