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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

Colour Mixing and Exploring the Planet Jupiter - 17th April 2024

Hello! When I left you last, I was preparing a colour palette for a new painting. As we meet again, it is finished! It took me a while and went through many stages that made we want to throw it out the window and give up, but it is complete.

Before the Horizon - Acrylic Paint on Board - 13/04/2024

It looks nothing like I was expecting, both the colour proportions and the composition changed quite dramatically between the start and end point, but I feel like it taught me a lot. (It also reminded me that I’m really not a fan of painting small, it feels so restrictive. It’s like trying to eat with a knife and fork with your arms strapped to your sides!)

The biggest changes to the work came at the point where I was seriously considering abandoning it for a while and doing something else. I sat and I stared at the mess of colour and shapes in front of me and I just starting drawing out boxes in my sketchbook and filling them with the largest shapes that seemed to pop out from the painting… and I just kept coming back to this one central shape and what it reminded me of. The central shape of the painting looked remarkably like the shadow of the event horizon in the image of Sagittarius A* by the Event Horizon Telescope.

This little spark of recognition fuelled a new effort into resolving the image. It was purely the shape of the EHT image that was guiding the work now, but it finally felt like I had tangible idea to work with: I was no longer lost. The final image is an abstracted version of the EHT image. It does not have any deeper meanings or ideas behind it, it was simply the final guide for the composition that help everything fall (or be pushed, pulled, and squashed determinedly) into place.

The challenging colours have also helped me feel more confident with using colour to its fullest potential in future works. If I can get colours to sit harmoniously together without the use of black as a crutch, then as and when I chose to introduce it back in, I can hopefully use it to enhance the colours, not try and save them!

With that in mind, I have now begun work on a new (and lager than two) series! After finishing the pastel-coloured painting, I felt the pull to return to space. The previous two, while not intentionally (at least initially) space themed, both still speak to me of the topic. I didn’t know how long or short my hiatus from space-driven artwork would be, I didn’t plan it; I wanted it be organic. But I think I am ready to mould the two together again and in a healthier way this time.

I am moving forwards by starting a set of paintings exploring the planet Jupiter! I have started by doing some general brainstorming for any and all possible painting ideas, and now I am focusing in one specific idea: Galileo’s view. Due to a change in circumstance, I am starting to feel hopeful that I may get to be reunited with my telescope soon(ish)… This made me start thinking about looking at Jupiter and his moons again, and that made me think of Galileo and those first views he got of the planet and what he later realised were its moons.

An open sketchbook with sketches of Jupiter and colour swatches.
Colour mixing and planning for new Jupiter Painting

I have a starting composition all planned out, so the next thing to do was: colour mixing. As part of creating the composition and the initial research that goes along with that, I came up with a small list of thematic words to guide the first stages of the painting. From these words, I figured out what sort of colour palette I wanted to work with. I want colours that speak of excitement, awe, prettiness and the idea of movement. I want a painting that reflects the calm and beauty of observing, with a sprinkle of that electric energy discovering something new.

I feel happy that because I’m doing multiple works on Jupiter, I don’t feel the pressure of trying to make the painting say everything I know or discover about the planet. I can focus of smaller ideas and thus ultimately say more and, hopefully, say it more clearly and coherently.

Since we last spoke, there was also a total solar eclipse! Sadly this was not visible in Europe, but I have good news if you also missed it, the next opportunity will be in Spain: 12th August 2026! A tad closer to home! (And one after than in 2027 also in Spain - if you wish to see one in the UK you will unfortunately have to wait around 70ish years though...)

That’s all for this post, but I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead as I work on the new painting(s).

Stay curious and creative!


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