Art Diaries: Animals In The Cosmos

It’s Space Day! For the cosmic geeks amongst us, that means the day glued to the stunning Cosmic  series from 1980 (or watching Neil deGrasse Tyson’s fantastic remake), reading a good book, fathoming just how many trillions Brian Cox was talking about or simply reflecting on the wonders of the universe. Our achievements in space are worth celebrating, and today I’ll be doing just that, no doubt through creating a new cosmic painting or reading Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth.

While planning the next paintings and reminiscing with my old favourites, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a little more behind the scenes on why I decided to paint animals out in the cosmos.

What inspired you to paint animals in space?

I’ve always painted animals, and always been drawn to painting them in beautiful places. So from painting starlings over the Colosseum and ravens in New York, it made sense to combine my favourite creatures with another one of my biggest inspiration sources: the night sky.

Do you think animals should be sent into space?

Without the animal astronauts that unwittingly left our planet, space exploration wouldn’t be where it is today. I believe that sending animals into space to understand the effects of gravity and cosmic radiation are a far worthier cause than using those same animals to test cosmetics, for example.

What is it about the cosmos that most interests you?

I guess it comes from knowing so little about it. It’s so vast, so unfathomable, yet it’s real, it’s amazing. There’s always a new fun fact are jaw-dropping moment. And how can you look at Hubble’s spectacular images and not be inspired?

What’s your favourite painting in the series?

It has to be Laysan Waltz which I talked about it another blog post. The mood, the stance, the colours: everything just works and it’s one of those few ideas that fell into place and evolved very little from the original idea! The albatross mating ritual was one that I’d wanted to capture for some time, and had failed several times.

Tell us about your use of colour in this series?

Just as many of the images we get from space are not true-colour images, this series is about being bright and bold, even though the night sky is typically very black. It’s about using colour and collections of colours to transmit a mood, a moment, perhaps even a season or a time of day.

Favourite moments from the history of space/travel?

That first image of the black hole. Wow.

Favourite fun space fact?

Lightning storms on Jupiter and Saturn turn carbon into soot, which hardens and falls as diamond rain.

Want to win a FREE watercolour? Comment on which painting is your favourite, and next week I’ll announce a winner! Plus, from May 1st to 7th you can get 25% off anything in my Etsy shop with code COSMIC25!

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