Monday, September 7, 2015

The Celestial Series

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” - Carl Sagan

 I painted this series of nine paintings over a period of 8 weeks this summer.   At the end of July, I received the news from a very dear friend of mine that her business partner and close friend had been in a boating accident and was lost at sea.   That night I went into my studio in a state of shock.   The painting "I'm Here" was the result of that painting session.   As with all paintings borne from the intuitive process, this one seem to paint itself.   I had no plan or sketch that I was working from - in fact my mind just shut off and my hand took over while I observed.   I have never painted anything like "I'm Here", or the subsequent eight paintings that came afterward.   They are not painted in my usual style.   I don't really know where they came from.

"I'm Here"  SOLD
“There are very few friends that will lie down with you on empty streets in the middle of the night, without a word. No questions, no asking why, just quietly lay there with you, observing the stars, until you're ready to get back up on your feet again and walk the last bit home, softly holding your hand as a quiet way of saying “I'm here.” It was a beautiful night.” - Charlotte Eriksson, Empty Roads & Broken Bottles; in search for The Great Perhaps

I find this fascinating and worthy of sharing, because I think the connection between the subconscious mind and creativity is huge, and that if we can "tap into" that connection by letting go of expectation and seeing what shows up we will continue to be surprised and amazed over and over again.

While the beginning of the painting "I'm Here" was prompted by feelings of loss and grief, as I continued to paint it was the feelings of calm and acceptance of the vast unknowability of life, and the beauty of that mystery, that came through to me.   I thought of friends of mine who are no longer here.   I thought of how small we are in this vast universe.   I thought of how incredibly beautiful the night sky is, and the lovely names of the constellations - Cassiopeia, Delphinus, Lyra, Orion, Corona Borealis, Carina, Andromeda.   I thought of all the people who have studied and mapped the stars, and those trail blazers and dreamers who created rocket ships, and the brave men and women who traveled in them.

"Little Nova"  SOLD

"We are loved, and we are known. We are one, and we're not alone." Quixotic - Every Kid in the House Tonight

Every time I went to my studio another "celestial" painting would present itself.   The paintings are heavily textured and finished with a gloss varnish, and each one seems to have an otherworldly glow from within.   I have never painted paintings that look like this!

"Metaphor for the Night Sky"  SOLD
"Metaphor for the night sky - a trillion asterisks and no explanations." - Robert Brault

 "It's Written In The Starlight"  SOLD
"It's written in the starlight, and every line in your palm" 
- Dire Straits

"Eight Hundred Light Years Away From Earth"

“If an object - a star, for instance, like our own sun - is eight hundred light years away from the Earth, it would take light leaving that object eight hundred years until it reached our eyes. So when you look at that object, you are seeing it as it appeared eight hundred light years ago, not as it looks today. It might not even exist anymore. Every time you look up at the stars, you are looking into the past.” - Wendy Mass, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

The last four paintings in the series celebrate the annual August Perseid meteor shower.   The shower, radiating from the constellation Perseus, contains particles ejected by the Swift-Tuttle comet as it travels on its 133 year orbit.   Most of the particles in the Perseid cloud are 1000 years old.

 "The Sea Maid's Music"  SOLD

"The rude sea grew civil at her song, and certain stars shot madly from their spheres to hear the sea maid's music"  
- William Shakespeare.

"100 Meteors"  SOLD

"100 meteors flew thither in the morning" - documented in Chinese annals in 36 AD

 "Make a Wish and Think of Me"  SOLD

"Please, don't worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you're ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day... make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular." - Robin Williams in Jack

 "Fireflies Tangled in a Silver Braid."
"Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade, Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid. - Alfred Lord Tennyson, Locksley Hall.
Thinking about the orbit of the comet - longer than any human lifetime - and those ancient particles above us, makes me feel that the truth of our existence is this - we are all tiny specks of humanity in a vast and unknowable universe, but we are also each magnificent and powerful, resilient and brave. And we are all, I believe, here for a reason.   To shine. 

Why in the world are we here?  
Surely not to live in pain and fear  
Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah, we all shine on
On and on and on, on and on
C'mon and on and on, on, on
John Lennon - Instant Karma

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