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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

Jupiter Continued! New Paintings and New Ideas: Tidal heating and aurora.

Jupiter continued! New paintings and new ideas galore! Hello again! I am back again for another blog post. This is my second post this month; I’m so proud of myself! Since I last checked in, I have started two new paintings and finished one of them. I have finally got a clear night to take my telescope out, and I have entered the Wraptious competition! This means, for a limited time, three of my artworks are available in cushion form! (Link below)

My newest completed painting is Io: Under Pressure. The next work in my Jupiter Series, it is all about Jupiter’s moon, Io. The painting speaks of the extreme stress the moon is put under due to Jupiter’s immense gravitational influence. Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system, and it is due to the monster of a planet that it orbits. Jupiter’s gravity is constantly stretching and crushing Io with the same forces that give the Earth it’s tides. Except instead of the moon and sun causing water tides, you have Jupiter causing the very rock that Io is made of, to bulge. This constant friction keeps to moon extremely hot, causing the interior to melt. This hot material then bursts out the surface as volcanoes. Io and the other Galilean moon orbits also contribute to Io being, and staying, so hot – this orbital influence is suggested at in the painting through the curved line running across it and the swirling of the bottom right.

This subject matter posed an interesting challenge for me. I wanted heat, radiation, the idea of stuff being expelled, while also creating a feeling of stifling temperatures, and a closeness, almost claustrophobia. Colour was an excellent place to start for the idea of stifling heat and closeness. The two colours that make up the majority of the work are close in tonal value and both warm colours (pink and orange) – this helps create the stifling, claustrophobic effect. But Io is a high energy system; orange and pink have a certain clashing quality to them, which helps them feel ‘loud’ next to each other despite them being nearby neighbours on the colour wheel. The addition of the classic black and white contrast of my work also adds to the energy, the white pulling away from the image like a burst of energy, and the black doing something a little different. With black as a background colour, it acts as a divider between colours, preventing them from interacting directly, but with black as an addition as it is in this painting, it acts quite differently. Instead of separating the pink and orange, it simultaneously highlights their similarities, while adding a new intensity and darkness to the painting. It pulls in the sides and makes the whole composition feel more compressed. In most my other works, the black is very much in the background. It is the abys that stretches far into the distance, but in Io: Under Pressure, it sits on the top. It is a heavy, weighty addition, like someone stomping over the surface with a large boot.

A dark pink painting with patterns of bright orange. A white streak radiates from the centre, and blocks of black impose and create a sense of claustrophobia.

The marks that make up the painting aim to give a feeling of movement, but movement that feels slightly confined (like trying to eat with a knife and fork while sitting a table that closely resembles a tin of sardines). The marks and shapes are supposed to create a sense of rigidity and compression, but with bits oozing out the sides. While I did finally manage to somewhat accurately capture the colours of the painting, I don’t think the photo really quite captures it. The work is somewhat large, but certainly not extravagantly so, and yet it has real presence to it that I do not feel comes across virtually. I don’t know if anyone else will see it at all, but this one really gives me Rothko vibes. It was unintentional, however his work did pop into my head at various points during the process, so it makes sense if the influence is somewhat visible. The colour scheme and somewhat imposing vibe of some of his paintings did inspire me as I was working on this one, so I find it really interesting that I can actually see that inspiration in the work; my artistic influences in other works I feel is usually much less obvious.

My current work in progress is inspired by Jupiter’s magnetic field and the extremely energetic aurora that are created as a consequence. These aurora glow in the ultraviolet and, unlike on Earth, are constant. This because they are not just caused by material ejected from the sun, but by material thrown up by Io as well. Just like on Earth however, these charged particles (whatever their origin) are funnelled by the magnetic field to create aurora on the poles. My initial idea for this work was: magnetic field, funnelling, and swirling patterns of aurora. As I have started work on the piece however, I find myself less visually drawn to the swirling patterns, and instead to the idea of particles slamming together and glowing in UV. I apparently just can’t resist a violent collision.

A bright blue, white an black painting sitting on a layer of protective fabric on the floor while it dries. An unfinished painting.

This new painting is also just three colours: Ultramarine Blue, Black and White. The blue is a nod to the short wavelength light of the aurora, but it is also a personal challenge. I think blue can be a really energetic and exciting colour, but in the past, I’ve always struggled to make it anything other than calm. To achieve the energy this piece requires, I will have to use all the techniques at my disposal for paint application and experiment as I go. It should be exciting!

A photo of an 82% waning gibbous moon with many visible craters on the bottom and along the shadow side.

I have also finally been blessed with a clear night to try using my dear old telescope once again. Being summer, it’s not the best time for stargazing, and on top of that there was an 82% moon, but oh my, the moon! The moon put on a wonderful show and I managed to snap this photo through the eyepiece of my telescope with my phone! I look forward to another clear night and round two!!

That is all the updates I have for this post. I hope you found the deep dive into my newest painting interesting. I shall hopefully be back again soon with more art and more space!

Until then, stay curious and creative!


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