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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

6th September 2022

It’s been a tad longer than two weeks since my last post, so sorry about that, but I have been doing some much-needed resting and thus the writing of a post just kept getting pushed back. Since we last spoke, I’ve seen some lovely art at Kew Gardens, finished my painting of Stephan’s Quintet, I’ve started (and nearly finished) the induction task for my course, I’ve seen my parents again and turned 23!

First lets talk about Stephan’s Quintet. I experimented with using canvas rather than board for the surface of this painting; I can happily say that it was a successful experiment. I managed to achieve a smoothness of surface that allowed my tape technique to work. This means I can continue to explore working on canvas and hopefully cause myself a lot less back pain in the studio!

While I used both Webb’s NIRCam and MIRI composite image, and the MIRI image as references for this painting, it was MIRI that inspired the focus of the painting. Peering through the gas that surrounded the black hole at the heart of the topmost galaxy (NGC 7319), MIRI uncovered a strikingly bright, active galactic nucleus (shining with the energy of 40 billion suns). (An active galactic nucleus is a supermassive black hole that is actively accreting material –accelerating the material orbiting around it to immense speeds and pulling it spiralling inwards. This disk of material glows incredibly brightly and is the reason that despite black holes being prisons of light, they are some of the brightest objects in the universe.) If you want to find out more about Stephan’s Quintet then I recommend having a look at what NASA and ESA have to say on it, they will explain things much better than me.

Something I noticed after completing my painting of Stephan's Quintet (the first multi coloured piece I’ve done since January) was that I have somehow, once again, returned to the same rough colour palette that I’d used in most of my previous full colour images. Why? This led me to ponder two thoughts: should I go back to the ‘single colour’ colour palettes I’d been exploring more recently? I seemed more inventive and thoughtful about my colour choices with such a limited pallet. Or, should I continue with the full colour palettes? Maybe they just need some work....

Perhaps both thoughts are a little silly; the single colour images aren’t really single colour at all anyway… Other colours were used to complement and highlight the chosen ‘main’ colour, they just gave the illusion of being single coloured. Well, I will continue to think about this, and maybe I will find my answer once term has started.

If there is one thing that the induction task for my course has reminded me of, it is the value in researching the what, how and why behind other artist’s work. It can help inspire your art, of course, but it can also help trigger a deeper contemplation into your own what, how and why. To any fellow artists reading this, I encourage you to do this from time to time. Your reasoning behind your work doesn’t have to be complicated or deep, although it might be, it is simply yours and it is helpful to know it and think about it from time to time. Understanding your own motivations can really help you find direction and purpose in your work, as well as helping you realise when things have changed and when it’s okay to let them go and move on to something new. Looking at other artists can help you understand your own work better.

Term officially starts in 6 days and I am completely terrified. It is the start of me fully committing to pursuing art as a career. I expect the next 2 years will be intense; I can’t wait. There is much to do, much to learn and much to overcome, but this is it.

I think I’ve rambled enough for this post, so I will leave it here. Next time I can update you on how I’m finding life as a new MASTERS STUDENT!!!

Stay curious and creative, and I’ll see you next time!


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