Heavenly Bodies, Science and the Figure

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” The Rotation of Pluto”  • oil • 30hx24w © 2012

    August 24, 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet after scientists got together to determine just what makes a planet. One of the criteria for planet status is the orbit of the planet around the sun. What I understand is that Pluto and Charon orbit each other while going around the sun. Pluto has other factors that demoted him, but I chose to focus on his orbit with Charon.

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“The Rotation of Charon” • oil • 30hx24w © 2012

     I read “The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet”, by Neil deGrasse Tyson, which was the initial inspiration for the works. After laughing at the hate mail he got from 3rd graders, I just kept thinking about those two planets out there rotating around indifferent to the argument here on Earth. 

     I have done some oil paintings with the falling figure, but not a rotating figure. The initial idea for the falling figure came from a combination of a drawing assignment where we were told to draw multiple views of an object to create an abstract composition and walking into a figure painting class late. The class was full and I had a lousy set up with my easel. The instructor let me walk around the model and do various drawings and I combined it into one of my “falling man” paintings.

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“Falling Man I” • oil • 36hx24w © 1996

     Pluto and Charon were composed of figure studies from live models. Some drawings were warm-up 2-5 minute gesture studies, others were longer poses. I researched more about Pluto and Charon in my local library and on-line to give me inspiration. Never dismiss the Junior reading section as a source for imagery at your local library. I wanted to make Charon a female study, and through my research in the Junior section found out that the astronomer who discovered Charon tried very hard to name the moon closely after his wife. So I felt justified, since Greek mythology has Charon pegged for a man.

     The colors of the painting were kept to primary cool colors until I changed them to more fleshy tones. My choice being that I just wasn’t into these figures blending so much into their surroundings. I used a combination of line and paint strokes to create the abstractions you see as well as a sense of movement. 

     In thinking about Pluto and Charon, me being the romantic, thought it was interesting to have this orbital bond between the two bodies out there in space. A friend of mine thought, they might be stuck together and can’t pull away! I will leave the interpretation up to you.

     Currently, I am working on two more heavenly bodies. One is Venus the other Mars. Venus showed herself to us in front of the sun June 6, 2012.  Belly dancers preforming at a beach I went to this summer became my reference photos for Venus. What if the planet was saying, “Here I am! Check it out!” She certainly had a lot of people’s attention. As for Mars, the exploration of its surface by Curiosity is fascinating. My rendition of Venus will be another rotation. Mars will be more stoic in a sitting pose. Below is the drawing on canvas I have for Venus in my studio. When she’s done, she’ll need to be hung on a really big yellow wall! “Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the Sun, but Mama, that’s where the fun is…”, (from “Blinded by the LIght” preformed by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, written by Bruce Springsteen).

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