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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

25th October 2022

Hello friends. Things feel like they may just be coming together finally. I’m very tired and still feel a bit behind on everything, but the weight does seem to be very slightly lifting off my shoulders so I am feeling cautiously optimistic. This blog was supposed to written at the weekend, but I felt like it wasn’t a priority. Now though, after a few stressful deadlines have passed, I feel like I may actually benefit from taking the time to sit down and write. So here I am, sitting and writing.


A quick catchup on what’s been going on since my last post: I had a complete meltdown, had two really positive meetings with people from the physics department, played with glass and ceramics, got into the studio to start the ball rolling and gave a presentation about my practice to strangers. The past weeks have had their ups and downs, but like I said, I feel cautiously optimistic.


In the studio, in terms of paint, I’ve been mostly dipping my toes back in the water with some colour mixing. I’ve been making squares of colour and labelling them with their respective paint components for future reference for testing colour combinations together. It’s not the most exciting work, but it gets me back into the practice of using and mixing my paints. I’ve also started some experiments with phosphorescent gel – as my current area of interest is centred around the sun, I like the idea of the paintings becoming one with the light from the sun. The one issue I’ve uncovered with this is the paint seems to need pretty bright sunlight to glow best and my studio isn’t that bright which makes it hard to test, but I’ve done some ‘swatches’ on both a black and white surfaces to see if one is better than the other for producing results. (I also want to judge for myself how colourless this 'colourless gel' really is.)


I’ve also been brainstorming ideas for themes and paintings, helped along by a meeting with a member of the physics department recently. I’ve decided that the sun will be my focus, that can stretch from the nuclear fusion in the centre of the sun, to its complex magnetic field, to the way the sun interacts with and effects things on/around the earth.


I’m excited to be looking a little closer to home for a while. I’m often off looking at black holes and distant galaxies, but our own little neighbourhood is just as exciting. Also, being close by, it is easier to study; we can learn all the processes happening in our backyard and then apply that knowledge to the wider universe. Not only do we get to discover what is on our doorstep, but the extension of that knowledge can help us understand things further afield too!


Some of the things I’m currently sketching ideas for, for paintings are: Proton-proton chains, twisting magnetic fields, sunspots, the solar wind and the distortion of Earth’s magnetic field and how it effects things on earth. But other things have also crossed my mind too, like the journey of light from the centre of then sun to earth. I hope further discussions with people will inspire further ideas and angles. I’ve also thought very briefly about how a collection of works could be presented. I thought about chronology and presenting almost a story, but then again, why must we always think linearly? Perhaps not thinking about stages could inspire more thought – like the constant pull of the paint and the visuals of the painting as I’m thinking on the facts behind the concept as I paint. Thinking chronologically may sometimes be a good starting point, but sometimes the best ideas may come when we allow ourselves to be pulled off track...


There is a lot to think about, but I think once I’ve started putting paint on canvas, I will be able to think more clearly. Fingers crossed that by the end of tomorrow, I will have at least one canvas in the studio that is ready for painting.


On a separate note, I hope some of you managed to get a look at today’s partial solar eclipse! I had a last-minute spur of the moment attempt to view it using the pinhole method, and I’m so glad I did! I’ve never tried it before so didn’t know if it would work, but it did and it was so exciting to see that bite out of the disk!


I think I’m going to re-read The Universe in Your Hands by Christophe Galfard (partly inspired by a pre-seminar task for this week) because I think that the method of describing astrophysical concepts through a means other than complicated science terms and equations could nicely complement what I’m trying to do through my own work. He might be using words whereas I’m using paint, but the principle is similar. Also I want to reread it because I just really like the book; would highly recommend!


That’s all I’m going to say for now. I hope the past few weeks have treated you nicely and that the next few do also. I’m sleepy and hungry though, so I must bid you all farewell for now.


Stay curious and creative, and I’ll see you in the next one!


Anna.

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