Planetary Suite Oil on 9 Canvas Panels 6′ x 13′ 3″ 1992 Collection of Merrimack College Painted in 1992 when Pluto was still classified as a planet but before being visited by a space craft.
I remember two particular events in my pre-space-age youth that excited me. I was in elementary school, around 1954, when, one evening my mother spread out a picnic blanket in our backyard in northern Oklahoma. Light pollution was pretty minimal in those days and the night sky was full of stars. They were beautiful and fascinating and I wanted to understand what they were. The other event, about the same time, was when my teacher told the class that if we were to quiet down she would read us the book she was waving in front of us. I don’t remember the title but it was something like Johnny’s Trip to the Moon. I really wanted to hear that story and found myself shushing the rest of the class so that we could get to it. That early interest in space led to me to eventually major in aerospace engineering. I even had the good fortune to work as a student intern on the Viking project (bucking rivets, cleaning stuff), but I was not a very good student at that time, too romantic to be a good engineer. After two-and-a-half years I changed my major to psychology, didn’t like it, but managed to graduate. About that same time, I discovered art, specifically the work of Van Gogh. Now that, I liked. I eventually went on to get my BFA and MFA degrees in painting. And though my work has always involved a variety of subjects, it was my artwork that explored astronomy, space, aviation and the sky that seemed most to move me and others. My early work in engineering turned out to be an asset to me as an artist. Because I understood technical drawing and 3D geometry I was given the job of teaching a class in perspective while in graduate school. After receiving my MFA, I was hired to teach perspective at the New England School of Art & Design. Computer graphics was a brand new field at that time and I had experience as an engineering student with computers. So I put together the computer graphics program for that school. I spent the rest of my academic career teaching digital media, finally at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. It was a lot of work keeping up with the field of computer graphics and, unfortunately, I did not have time to do much painting. Instead, I produced work in digital photography, digital video, and 3D. Now that I am retired, I have been able to return to my early loves, oil painting, and the sky. Being a romantic is an asset now. Although the route here was rather full of detours, I probably made the right choices all along. Go to the artist's portfolio
This artwork is copyright © Steve Gildea. All rights reserved.