Jupiter and Galilean moons in a telescope (with frame)

Medium: acrylic on A4 acrylic paper, Diameter of floating “telescope aperture” mount-board circle: approximately 14 cm, Dimensions of black outer frame with protective glass panel added later: approximately 31cm x 40cm. Note: A descriptive text box below the circle was included in response to frequent suggestions from various people that a description would be beneficial for understanding what they were looking at, increasing the size of the frame… This painting, inspired by observations of Jupiter, began much like my Saturn painting in another post, in that being an early attempt, I chose not to focus on the stars but concentrate on the planet and relative positions of its Galilean moons; this was just a quick napkin doodle at the eyepiece, not a proper sketch I might add, but a useful positioning of dots at the time of observing! However, after putting it away for a long time and taking it out again, the empty space felt a bit too “empty”, so I took the choice to stop being quite so pedantic about remaining absolutely true to my recording – and put in some imaginary stars to break up the black. Immediately I encountered my original concern in doing so, which was that the moons, being tiny points of light themselves, might get confused with background “stars.” This is partly why the moons are represented using larger dots to make them stand out more and the background dots are in grey rather than white to knock them back slightly; in future I am considering abandoning the use of larger dots to convey brighter objects because if I can try to keep everything point size, it will look more realistic (I could make the stars really dark so that point size moons can stand out more). I would add that the stars were added much more recently, and the year shown is according to completion… Admittedly, as with any painting – and as I have previously seen commented on the IAAA discussion list, there has to be a compromise between painting what I “see” and producing something that looks aesthetically interesting, aside from the unconscious tendency to over embellish the details and colours. And on top of all of that, I cannot help being a bit of an impasto, textural, swirly; these things are rather ingrained from quite some way back. Even so, I have tried to exercise self-restraint in the size of the disk, (not in any technical way) and in the colours and level of detail I have shown to produce an interpretation that I can at least say is derived from an experience. Although, the mediation of the imagination is virtually impossible to escape completely; in the end this painting is an invitation to those who might be tempted to seek some form of answer in this image, to go out and look for themselves, for “the finger that points to the Moon, is not the Moon itself”, to borrow from a Zen saying. Apart from this, I can only try to keep practicing where I can and develop observation more…

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Roger Jarvis

I am an emerging artist based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, in the United Kingdom. I produce landscape paintings from a home studio, primarily in acrylics but also occasionally in oils and watercolours as well. My interest to begin producing paintings on the subject of astronomy in the last several years has partially arisen from a father-son interest going back to my early years; as a teenager, my father would treat me to views of the planets, such as Mars, Jupiter and Saturn through his telescope, as well as the Ring Nebula and Andromeda galaxy. However, once I left college to study in Fine Art at Southampton Solent University, student life soon took over and my adolescent enthusiasm for astronomy took a back seat. For at least three years, longer in fact, I all but forgot that the night sky existed and seldom ever looked up; my entire universe shrank down to university life and even the Moon became a stale and distant concept lurking somewhere in the back of my head. The stars and celestial bodies of our Solar System arced across the great firmament above, rolling around the dark dome of the night sky for more than a thousand daily cycles, just out of sight and mind… A few years after I graduated in 2006 and during my five year artist residency at the Arches Studios in Southampton, a friend contacted me one day with great enthusiasm, to tell me all about an exciting new BBC television series called “Wonders of the Solar System” with Professor Brian Cox. Many things I forgot I learned about as a boy came bubbling back to the surface. As my interest was rekindled, it crept into my artwork and paved the way for everything that would follow and everything yet to come; in the space of a few years, robotic space exploration seemed to be exploding in a way that I had not really experienced when I was younger. Never before in my life has this sense of wonder and fascination been elevated to such heights as it is right now; I am convinced that I could not have chosen a better time to begin to engage in this subject. To coincide with this feeling, I have now discovered a whole movement in space and astronomical art that I previously had no awareness of and which is perfectly appropriate to my new direction in landscape painting; this is all thanks to an announcement made at my local astronomy club about an exhibition of space art at the Wells & Mendip Museum in Somerset in 2017, which I attended. It answers my calling and shows me an avenue through which I can begin to creatively channel my interest in the exploration of the universe. I now join the IAAA to seek guidance on how I can learn more about astronomical art in general and to seek feedback on my work to explore ways in which I can develop ideas and visual concepts, for which the IAAA is uniquely suited. Finding out about this association, the only one of its kind, is an extremely fortuitous turn of fate I could never have hoped for or anticipated in a billion years. The universe has opened a valuable opportunity, for which I cannot be grateful enough. My aim is to use the ideas I develop through my paintings, with the support of the IAAA, to invigorate my objective, which is to share the wonder and fascination of the cosmos with other like minded people and to help breathe the presence of astronomy into local art exhibitions in the Forest of Dean, where there is usually none to be seen. In this way my goal is to help inspire more people in my locality to take a greater interest in the exploration and wonder of the universe in which we live and, in art inspired by our final frontier…

This artwork is copyright © Roger Jarvis. All rights reserved.