Star Dust

Joy and I were just watching the first episode of the updated Cosmos, starring Neil deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson is really inspiring, as much so or even more that Carl Sagan, the author of the original Cosmos series. I never tire of the story about how all the elements arose from the furnace of the stars, how ‘we are stardust’ according to Crosby Stills and Nash & Young.

The reason this comes to mind is the fact that I have been experimenting with sparkly watercolors including silver and gold gouache, Duochrome Desert Bronze and Duo Autumn Mystery – iridescent colors in the Daniel Smith formulary.  Yesterday, my watercolor study was a test of the ‘bronze’ and the ‘mystery’ colors. I parlayed them into an alien sunset scene.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Actually, today’s experiment began yesterday. While I was preparing the foreground for the alien sunset,  I started another painting. I used the same iridescent colors. I was playing with swirls and comet-like shapes. The central swirl reminded me of the time my Dad tried to teach me about entropy. As he poured milk into his coffee, creating a mini galaxy, he asked why it didn’t unmix if he stirred it in the opposite direction. That was my Dad: using a cup of coffee as a teaching prop.

Thought process:

I set this painting aside.  Some of the shapes reminded me of facial features. However, as I did the other day, I thumbed through my book about Paul Klee, and decided to use the amorphous shapes as the background for a geometric study. First, I used a compass to draw concentric arcs, using the same center as that of the silver swirl. I drew pencil lines as rays emanating from the corners, connecting with different points on the arcs.

I realized that my abstract portrait had features reminiscent of sensory organs. I reinforced the taste sense by painting the tongue region with cadmium red. The colors of the columns directed toward the swirl/ear structure/side of the nose were not really planned. I used chromium green to surround the central blue, and a cadmium red streak for contrast. I used permanent mauve as a contrasting single column in the column of primarily yellow colors (Gamboge, Naples Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Pale); I used the opposite schema for the abutting columns. At the intersection of these columns, I painted an arrow to indicate the direction of flow of the sensory data.

To represent the flow of visual data, I ordered an array of small arrows at the flat surface on the right of the paper, with the colors of the spectrum. These arrows also represent the flow of sensory data.

Watercolor Sketch - Abstract: The Senses

The Senses
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Although my anatomy is off, I think this study works in a visual sense. That is to say, I like the way it looks, and I find it thought provoking.


2 thoughts on “Star Dust

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