Saturn and Titan in a telescope (without circular frame)

This 25.5 x 17.7 cm acrylic on paper pad painting was photographed some time before I figured out a better way to photograph it in its frame, presented in its finished form without getting unwanted reflections from the glass; consequently, there is a huge area of starless black I did not want to show here, since this was done to give the painting plenty of “play space” for my framer and I to play around with the positioning of the planet in its floating narrow circular frame, inspired by the idea of a “telescope aperture.” Before I could remedy this photography issue, I sold this painting to an unknown buyer in a local group artist show at the Miners gastro pub, in the village of Sling, Forest of Dean UK, just the other year… Someone I know down in London felt that this painting evoked his own experience of Saturn in an amateur telescope: I was curious that he commented on a feeling of “emptiness” between and around the rings and how whenever he observed Saturn, he never tended to notice the stars, or at least not so much as with the naked eye. So, the reason I am showing this unfinished presentation, is that it almost feels like I captured something of my own observation of Saturn, especially when I use my peripheral vision to look at this painting and reminisce the experience; it is all about the feeling inside. In other versions I have added imaginary stars, but it does not evoke quite the same, perhaps adding too many. I also need to practice observing much more, as this painting is based on a “napkin doodle” scribbled impatiently in the cold, that only recorded the very rough position of Titan and, I had to improvise by studying amateur photos to aid memory. The stars were left out because I did not record them, and I was tentatively (trying to) remain as “true” as possible, at the time, to what I actually recorded; learning to draw at the telescope is new and very challenging… The key thing about this experience, which the painting reflects, is the thought arresting awareness that what is now entering into consciousness, is one of the closest ways it seems possible for me to experience a (more) direct, less mediated contact with the reality to which the theories and concepts point. Without this experience, that my friends can sometimes sense, (sometimes a little mystified when seeking to understand why), my interest in space and astronomy would be based (almost) entirely on abstract words and the grasping of emphatic statements, mistaking them for the same thing. This experience of looking however, is a moment of contact with the reality to which the theories and concepts are pointing. Mainly due to this, the theories contain ineffable meaning: it is no longer an abstract concept, any more than a distant land on the horizon, seen in a telescope, can be felt to be intuitively separate from the world that I am part of… A world truly vast but not separate from this tiny speck, so called “the whole world”; this being no mere myth of ages…

Published by

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.