The painting is finished!
When last we saw our astronaut, she was painted in full color with the exception of her flight suit. I took two different approaches for the shirt and pants. I painted the shirt first, and decided to go with a dark blue-black glaze layer with the highlights blended in with opaque paint. This ended up being a more difficult job than I had anticipated, partly because of the transparent quality and relatively weak tinting strength (compared to titanium white) of both ultramarine blue and ivory black, and partly because of the subtlety needed to get the wrinkles in the fabric to read correctly while still rendering the underlying anatomy. So, when I got to work on the pants, I decided to skip the glaze layer and just paint over the under-painting with opaque color. It was much easier.
Once the outfit was finished, I spent some time making final adjustments and touch-ups to the rest of the painting…softening some areas of the face, brightening some of the stars, adding some texture to the clouds on the Earth, that sort of thing. Then I let the painting dry. Finally I was able to able a light coat of varnish to bring back the color depth give the painting an even sheen. Then I had the painting professionally photographed.
Photographing artwork is tricky business, and more complex than simply having a good camera. The lighting setup is critical, typically consisting of two light sources, one on each side and at 45 degrees to the painting, polarized filters on the lights and a perpendicular polarized filter on the camera to eliminate glare off of the brush strokes. The color temperature of the lights is also matched to the color profile the camera is expecting to get as close to true color representation as possible. With large paintings that I envision eventually making their way into a print run, it’s definitely worth the expense to have the job done by a pro.
And here is the result:
I present ‘Ad Astra’ (To the Stars). 32×40 inches, oil on aluminum composite. The first in what will be a series of paintings on the theme of ‘How Far We Can Go’…the natural evolution of the theme from my 2003 painting ‘How Far We’ve Come’ It’s interesting, to me at least, to compare the two paintings, created 15 years apart.
I am extremely happy with how this painting turned out. While there are always little things I think I could do better ‘next time’, this one really came together, and has just the feel I was hoping for when I started. I really like the dark key and the strong contrast between the black of space, the station interior and the flight suit and the whites and blues of the earth, moon, background station and the face and hands. I’m also really pleased with how the Milky Way turned out.
Thank you for following along with this painting’s progress. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!