March 25, 2013


It's been my habit these days to take one day off from trumpet practice per week, and today was one of those respites. Before I knew the weather forecast, I'd fantasized about heading off to one of the metro parks, or even the Cuyahoga Valley for some long walking, but since we got a fresh heap of residual winter last night, I decided instead to make the best of things at home.

The latest addition to my astronomical drawing project had been lying dormant for a couple weeks. After finishing Accretion, I'd ridden the excitement and started another drawing right away...a smaller one that I hoped wouldn't take me nearly as long. A little ways into the work however, I ran into some creative road blocks and frustratedly set it aside. I'd walk past it every day...look at it for a while...maybe fill in a minor detail or two...and then, just as frustrated, walk away again. After a certain point it just didn't seem to flow. I'd lost the original vision somewhere, and was left scratching my head over what to do next.

So today...left with few options with which to occupy the hours...I loaded up some podcasts (Science Friday, This American Life, and Radio West) and set to work. I figured I'd just muscle through and hope it would start to make sense at some point. Not the most ideal creative frame of mind I suppose, but sometimes you just gotta do it.

With a little coaxing and last-minute improvisation, it seems the result isn't half expressive and abstract elaboration on the Pleiades star cluster...

As I may have said on previous occasions, The Pleiades has been a favorite object of mine since before I knew there were such things as open star clusters. I saw it first from the back seat car window during a childhood trip to visit my grandparents in North Dakota. While absent-mindedly gazing up into the dark sky, I was puzzled and intrigued by a little fuzzy patch that eventually resolved itself into what I thought looked like (and this is immediately what I labeled it in the back of my young mind) an "itsy-bitsy-teeny-weenie-yellow-polka-dot -bikini dipper". I smiled and adopted the little patch of stars as my own personal secret constellation...though, of course, I eventually came to find out that it is widely known and much beloved.

I want to reiterate that the drawings in this series are not meant to represent reality in any precise or scientific manner. Though I did use a detailed star map to place most of the "stars" you see in the work, and referenced many astro-photos while adding aspects of nebulosity, my motivation behind all of these works is only to express the sense of the rapture I've felt while viewing the night sky. The astronomical wonders that surround us (whether viewable to the unaided eye, through binoculars or telescopes, or invisible to all but technologies that gather data in wavelengths beyond human perception), and the true stories of creation and cosmic evolution that surround them, inspire my imagination.

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