In the Studio #54

I’ve been working hard to finish a series of planet paintings for an upcoming exhibition in October and they’re coming along fairly well. Its surprising how hard it is to make a round object convincingly turn in a void. Making spheres is one of the basic lessons we are taught in art school, but when it comes to planets, they each have there own character which means some of those old rules we are taught have to be thrown out the window.

I’m learning that in painting planets, especially the gas giants, that they are not exactly spherical. They all bulge pretty noticeable in the middle, like a man with a beer belly. I’ve been fighting with myself to either ignore the oblong real nature of these planets or paint what I see, and I have sort of split the difference with the Saturn painting leaning more towards the oblong shape and with the Jupiter I went little more spherical. The rings of the Saturn piece seemed to demand that the planet itself be painted with a fat bulge.

I’ve found painting the atmosphere of these works easier than anticipated which has been a lot of fun. Since gas giants are swirling balls of gas translating that effect to paint is pretty simple and satisfying, not that much paint mixing is necessary. The backgrounds are a bit of an issue though. Do you go with a straight black background showing rich deep black space, or do you paint something more animated with nebulae and stars radiating in the background? Here again I split the difference. With the Jupiter painting I’m working on currently I’ve painted a rich starry nebula filled space background and in the Saturn piece I finished a few weeks ago I went with a deep black void.

Painting these works come at a trying time for me this summer. It’s been a struggle to maintain the studio and keep the heady clip of paintings I have in production going all while maintaining a full-time job and other responsibilities at the same time. I must confess to some seriously fraying nerves. I’m somewhat remiss even mentioning it in a blog since its really the life of an artist. Financial and work life anxieties are always present with artists it seems. Around the community I live in I think this is the case with most people nowadays. Nevertheless, it is important I think every once in a while to actively mention the struggle, and toll life takes on oneself lest people out there think you’re somehow magically just dealing with everything super-well all the time. Life a bitch for me right now, I thank the heavens I have my art to help me make it through.

Here are some progress shots of my Jupiter piece “Elder Like Evans, Obdurate as Jove”  along with the final iteration of “With Timely Pearls Sown Darrell Like Saturn Reaps” . 


I’ve been listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder lately as well as this new group – at least new to me – out of Australia called Hiatus Kaiyote. The “Songs in the Key of Life” song “Saturn” seemed an appropriate song to leave folks with today along with the Hiatus Kaiyote song “Borderline With My Atoms”  Here are the Youtube videos of each:


I’ve been avoiding painting my last crop of landscape and flower paintings for my October show, I think because I was a little exhausted with doing so many of those types of paintings in the spring. But, the hour is late, and now as the Jupiter painting is coming to a close I have to turn my attention to the 4 or 5 works left to paint. With a month and a half left to paint them all its going to be a photo finish. In the end I think I’ll have plenty of works for the gallerist for this show to choose from when the exhibit finally takes place. I’ll next blog about these next botanical and landscape pieces during the dog days of August, until then do be well.

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