The Hydrogen Alpha Sun in a solar telescope…

Medium: fluorescent acrylic with PVA applied pink cotton wool on A4 acrylic paper, Diameter of floating “telescope aperture” mount-board cut out: approximately 14 cm, Dimensions of black outer frame: 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. My father and I jointly purchased a second-hand hydrogen-alpha solar telescope around a decade ago; the first time I saw the Sun in this way, it was the first time that it truly looked like a star, reminiscent of images from famous space-based observatories. I have relied on memory alone to produce this interpretation inspired by the experience, allowing over embellishments to creep in, probably influenced by such images. I also feel that I have overdone the sunspots and activity generally but the attempt to capture something of the colour remains a part of my (limited) observing experience, as well as the intensity of the colour, which is inspired by the memory of the piercing brightness. Also, during one observing session, I was inspired to experiment with tiny strands of pink cotton wool, applied with PVA glue for the prominences; initially I thought this was quite effective but over time there has been some sort of reaction with the dye of the cotton wool, turning it yellow; that’s what you get with experimentation… If I can get sketching the Sun at some point, with some guidance tips to help with that, I think I can develop this a lot more; I need not remind anyone that I intend to approach this as safely as possible and take all the proper precautions when observing the Sun. However, for the time being, the solar scope is in my dad’s safe keeping and we are both practicing social distancing until conditions improve. But there is nothing to stop me from starting another version inspired by the fairly recent solar transit of Mercury we were both very lucky to glimpse on a mixed cloudy day. My dad took some good smartphone shots I was able to clean up, which I can use as a very rough guide. I also clearly recall that there were no prominences or sunspots that day while we were looking, so the only effect I need to try and think about for this next solar transit painting, is how to get the granulation texture with acrylics… Note: This painting also came third place in a “photography competition” at my local astronomy club (The Cotswold Astronomical Society) a few years ago because they were keen to feature one of my works…

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.