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Archive for October, 2009

Space Art for Mensa

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Digital Painting of a Stellar Atmosphere
Digital Painting Study of a Stellar Atmosphere

This Friday October 30 I’ll be speaking at the Chicago regional Mensa gathering known as HalloweeM. My topic for the evening will be Art And The Exploration of Space. I start off by providing a history of space art and how space art has evolved over time. Perhaps more than any other art form space art has truly been influenced by technology beginning with the invention of the telescope.

The bulk of my presentation deals with the different ways in which art can be used to convey information and emotion. A fair portion of the art I use is art that was created as a part of the NASA Art Program. Last year an excellent book on the subject was released. You may want to read my book review NASA/ART: 50 Years of Exploration.

This four day gathering of mensans is being held at the Sheraton Chicago Northwest in Arlington Heights. To learn more about the Mensa HalloweeM, visit HalloweeM 34: Chicago-area Mensa legendary gathering. You can also read a news release I placed on my web site: Digital Artist Jim Plaxco and Space Art Featured at Regional Mensa Gathering

The Illustration

To illustrate this post I’ve used a small digital painting I recently did of a stellar atmosphere. This was a study of a technique that I’ve been working on. The software I used was Adobe Photoshop. My focus was on painting the star’s limb. My next step will be to focus on the star’s main surface. If I am satisfied with the results, I will proceed to do a full size version.

Ad Astra, Jim

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Art Quotes and Artists & Art Materials USA 2009

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Not A Flying Saucer
Not A Flying Saucer

Last night I added two new pages to my Artsnova web site. The first is A Small Collection of Art Quotes which consists of both some funny and serious quotes about art. I’ve been collecting quotes for some time and figured it was time to share some of my favorites.

The second addition – Reflections on Artists & Art Materials USA 2009 – is an overview of the Executive Summary of the Artists & Art Materials USA 2009 industry survey. As an artist, the most interesting aspect of the summary is the information about the categorization of artists and the amount of artwork created last year.

The Illustration

The illustration I used for this post is not a flying saucer. It’s not even a flying sausage. In fact it only flies if flung. This is the result of some Photoshop manipulation of a … well I’ll let you use your imagination.

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Social Networking and Robotic Space Exploration

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

JPL Saturn Twitter Wallpaper
NASA JPL Saturn Twitter Wallpaper detail

For those of you who like to follow NASA’s robotic exploration of space, here is a list of links to NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) related missions and projects social networking web pages.

Billed as being wallpapers for Twitter, there is a nice collection of images that you can use as wallpaper for your desktop or web site at the NASA JPL Free Twitter Wallpaper Page. The only caveat is that each image is tagged with a little blue bird in a space suit. This post’s illustration is a full sized reproduction of the section of a Cassini image of Saturn that contains the blue bird astronaut.

A full list of all NASA-related social networking Web sites can be found at

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Art And The Exploration of Space Lecture

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Apollo LEM from Astronaut Glory digital painting
Apollo Lunar Module from Astronaut Glory digital painting

Tomorrow night, Friday October 9, I’ll be giving my presentation Art And The Exploration of Space at a meeting of the Skokie Valley Astronomers. Space art is definitely a subject I enjoy talking about as it was space art that got me interested in art and in part space exploration. With respect to space exploration, it was the combination of space art, science fiction, and space exploration itself that got me interested in space exploration to the extent that I became actively involved in promoting both robotic and human space exploration.

For details about the Art And The Exploration of Space program, see the news release Space Art at the Ryerson Conservation Area

The Illustration

To illustrate this post I used a section of one of my digital painting tributes to the Apollo missions. The section shows the Apollo Lunar Module. For details about this digital painting see
Astronaut Glory I Space Art Print

Ad Astra, Jim

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There Once Was A Limerick

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Forest Guardian
Forest Guardian

I always had a fondness for limericks. I recall reading that Isaac Asimov, one of my favorite science fiction authors, was quite fond of composing limericks on demand. A few months ago I was looking at a photograph of some installation art that seemed to involve hanging an automobile from some ceiling. That image inspired me to write the following limerick which I titled An Artist’s Fate.

An Artist’s Fate

There once was an artist named Roe Tate
with a serious itch to be great
He created some art
using old auto parts
But his art ran him over – that’s fate

Earlier today I rediscovered this limerick in one of my to-do files and wondered if it was short enough to post on my Twitter account. Alas, no – nine characters too long. But the thought of posting a limerick to Twitter was now implanted in my brain and I resolved to write a limerick short enough to post.

After some head scratching, I came up with the following limerick:

Twitter One Four Zero

Twitter’s limit is one four zero
In which to post I am a hero
This brevity with words
Is strictly for the birds
No time to fiddle like Nero

Unfortunately Twitter strips out the carriage returns so my four line limerick becomes a one liner and I didn’t have the characters to spare to insert any sort of separator between lines. If you head over to my Twitter account you can see the limerick in all its glory. End of story.

The Illustration
To illustrate my limerick post I pulled a photograph of a bush that I had taken atop a small mountain in Arizona. Using Photoshop, a variety of filters and adjustment layers, I converted that photograph into the pictured titled Forest Guardian.

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