International Space Art Network

Welcome to a place of vision and beauty. Welcome to the world of space art.

How do you come up with new subjects for space art projects?

I am greatly inspired by current news and events in astronomy and science but sometimes I get ideas from unexpected places. Watching a very bright meteor cross the sky last year inspired the thought process that ended in my latest piece depicting the Chixulub impact event. Thats the one that hepled take out the Dinosaurs.

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Hmmm... Interesting question...
Well, it can come from a bunch of different sources. Like you John, I gather ideas from various reputable sources in the news. Hubble has been a great source of inspiration as well. I'm also spurred on by my contemporaries and luminaries in the IAAA. Their works are incredible and accurate. They also show me how far I have to go to be up there with them and that's inspiration in itself. Having worked in a planetarium in the late 70's, inspiration is never at a loss. But the challenge for me is to present the universe in a different way than the traditional views one might see. (An example might be looking down into the reflections of an ordinary pond with lilies, flowers, and leaves in it, but after really inspecting it do you notice the ringed planet reflected in the ripples of the water. Only then does the picture go from being ordinary to ethereal, though I've done quite a lot of "rocks/ balls" and "swirly" stuff too! That is, I guess I'm trying to bring more "romanticism" into the works, as well as being accurate with the physics and details?)
Just my take on it.
I also like to challenge myself with new techniques. Done the airbrushed acrylics, drybrush, technical pens, and silk-screening routes already. Watercolor has been the medium I'm trying to master now. (Ever try to draw the universe with watercolors? it *IS* a challenge to get those "wispy" nebulas just right before the paper dries... I'll be posting some examples in a few days.

By the way, thanks for starting the site!

Walt Barrows
Yes. I agree completely about being inspired by other artists. At the Bryce Canyon workshop last year I had the pleasure of watching Mike Carol, Paul S. Hoffman and Betsy Smith do some field work and it was quite priceless to me. As you said something to strive for.
Like you I also love to dream of alien places and wonder about what it would be like to actually be out there witnessing some incredible physical event. To me it's all the more amazing when you know that it is based on scientific knowledge and could actually happen.
Sometimes it`s Science Fiction books that do it for me. The good discriptive ones: Dan Simmons, Ian Banks and lately it`s been a relatively new guy Charles Stross. All with great ideas. Or sometimes it`s something as innocuous as light falling through a light fitting and throwing a weird shadow on a restaurant wall. Sometimes I get the title first. With one of the paintings on the site it was the title, `Orphans`, which did it fot me. I had the nebula done first (The Horsehead is an old friend of mine) but nothing seemed to fit with it. I tried a variety of planets, both ringed and naked, with and without moons, rocky and gas giants, but nothing seemed to work. Then I was watching a documentery on the TV about orphaned children in some Godforsaken place, and that`s where I got the title from. And I think in this case it is the title which makes the painting. Name it something else and it doesn`t work.

Another point, if I may, How come when you`re working on a painting and you figure out some great effect, and you know exactly how to to get that effect, until you try it again on another painting, and you just can`t get it to work?

I love when weird connections like that happen and I think your right! 'Orphans' is a perfect name for that piece.
I do hate when I can't reproduce an effect that I like. I have so many brushes now I can't always remember which ones I used for what.
I often get inspired by less known bits of space hardware - the von Braun station is a recent example. Also when I bumped into some good images of the Soviet N-1 moon rocket, and it occurred to me that I had never seen a 3d model of wine. (Some research dug up a couple, but it was certainly under represented considering it's place in history...

I tend to be very put off by things that are done too often in 3d, (so don't expect a starship Enterprise from me any time soon!)
My ideas come from everything around me, pretty much. Many of my pieces are inspired by books, either directly or indirectly. Sometimes they just drop into my head. I usually have, at any given time, at least three or four ideas buzzing around in my head. Good sci-fi is always a great source for ideas, be it books, games or movies/shows. (Currently working on an idea inspired by Battlestar Galactica, which I have been watching on my computer over the last couple of weeks). Sometimes I will get inspired by a simple thing like the light we get here sometimes. A few of my images are entries for contests (I've yet to win one!) Other times I can just sit quietly thinking, and an idea for an image will start forming itself in my mind. I've even had ideas drop into my head while deeply engrossed in work. I guess, in short, that I get my ideas from whatever is at hand, by living and observing and thinking...

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