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Earth, Islands, Moon, and Music Calendars for 2017

Friday, November 18th, 2016

2017 Calendars - Earth, Islands, Moon and Music Calendars

Last month I added four calendars to my Redbubble portfolio. Three of the four calendars involve space in that the source photography for the calendars is from space-based cameras. With respect to the images from space, image processing was performed on all the images in order to:

  • improve contrast
  • enhance color and detail
  • remove imperfections and noise

Islands of the World Calendar

Islands of the World Calendar

The first of the calendars is the Islands of the World Calendar featuring images of islands taken from my Planet Earth Satellite Imagery Collection on Redbubble. The islands in the calendar are

  • January – Andros Island, Bahamas
  • February – Maui and Kahoolawe Islands, Hawaii
  • March – Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
  • April – Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
  • May – Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands
  • June – The Island of Hawaii
  • July – Isabela, Galapagos Islands
  • August – Tortuga
  • September – Faroe Islands, Denmark
  • October – Socotra Island, Yemen
  • November – Catalina and San Clemente Islands, California
  • December – Bermuda

 

Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar

Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar

Next up is the Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar which consists of images of Earth taken by a variety of manned space missions, primarily from the Apollo program.

 

Moon Views – Photographs of Our Moon Calendar

Moon Views - Photographs of Our Moon Calendar

The Moon Views – Photographs of Our Moon Calendar consists of lunar orbit photography taken by several of the Apollo missions to the Moon.

 

Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar

Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar

Lastly there is the Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar which consists of photographs I took at a synthesizer convention with some of the images having been subject to a strong dose of image processing.

 

I hope you find these calendars attractive. If you’re in need of a present (Christmas or otherwise) for someone, I hope that you consider one of these calendars as being the perfect gift.

Strangely I haven’t assembled any calendars based on my digital art. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I will have time to create any art-based calendars between now and Christmas. But then again … maybe I will find the time.

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Space Settlement Student Art Contest

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Earth and Moon Digital Art Wallpaper
Earth and Moon Digital Artwork

Once again I’ve been asked to be an art judge for the National Space Society’s Roadmap to Space Settlement International Student Art Contest with this year’s theme being People Living and Working in Space Settlements. The objective for the student artists is the creation of realistic illustrations of some aspect of what life would be like in a space settlement – whether it be on the Moon, Mars, an asteroid, or in free space. The artwork must include at least one person and a view or perspective that clearly establishes the setting for the space settlement. This means interior-only views are out – unless it includes a grand window view of the world outside. The "realistic" includes not only scientific and engineering realism, but also representational realism, aka photorealistic.

I find judging these art contests to be a rewarding, yet challenging, adventure. What is particularly challenging is the back and forth between individual judges over the pros and cons of the individual artworks submitted. Picking winners can be difficult in a crowded field of submissions. FYI, the grand prize winner of last year’s contest was an artwork titled Lunar Outpost Construction by Hidayat Saad of Malaysia.

In order to enter the contest, the artist must be a full-time student between the ages of 13 and 25. Artists not yet 18 years old must have parental permission to participate in the art contest. And it goes without saying that the artwork must be the original work of the artist (yes the contest has received a few entries over the years that were plagiarized works).

The contest will have one Grand Prize winner and up to twelve First Prize winners based on student grade level. There may also be Honorable Mention prizes award. I must point out that if no entries are judged to be suitable, then no prizes will be awarded.

Two of the prizes that will be awarded to the Grand Prize winner are having their art published on the cover of Ad Astra magazine, the official magazine of the National Space Society, and complimentary registration to the 2016 International Space Development Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico (does not include trip expenses) The deadline for submitting art to the contest is March 16, 2016. For complete details, visit Roadmap to Space Settlement 2016 International Student Art Contest.

The Earth and Moon Illustration

The art I used to illustrate this post is The Earth and Moon, which is a generative artwork I recently completed. I cropped out most of the Earth in order to use this art as a masthead for the post so I’ve included the uncropped version below. I have also made this artwork available for purchase at Redbubble and CRATED.

Earth and Moon Generative Space Art on Redbubble
Earth and Moon Generative Space Art on CRATED

Earth and Moon Generative Digital Painting by Jim Plaxco
Earth and Moon Generative Digital Painting

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Pluto, New Horizons Pluto-Palooza: Art and Talk

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Art version of the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon Charon
Artistic representation of the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon Charon

Next month I’ll be doing some talks on the dwarf planet Pluto, its moons, and the NASA New Horizons mission which will make its closest approach to Pluto on Tuesday, July 14 at 11:49:57 UTC. At that time it will pass Pluto at a distance of some 12,500 kilometers. In fact, New Horizons became the mission of closest approach to Pluto on December 2, 2011 – some three and a half years ago. The previous record holder was Voyager I, which got to within 1.58 billion kilometers of Pluto.

As a part of working on my presentation, I decided to create some original artwork. The result is the art used to illustrate this story. Titled Pluto and Charon, I tried to present a reasonably accurate depiction of the pair in terms of relative size in the artwork with respect to Charon’s orbital distance from Pluto. I took some small latitude with the overall coloring and albedos but as to surface features, well at this point that is anybody’s guess.

New Horizons Lorri Image of Pluto Taken June 11, 2015
New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (Lorri) Image of Pluto Taken May 28, 2015

With respect to the surface features of Pluto, the image above is probably the best image to date of the dwarf planet. It was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (Lorri) on May 28, 2015 when New Horizons was about 56 million kilometers from Pluto.

My artist’s print version of Pluto and Charon is 18 by 14 inches. By comparison, the version shown here would be about 2.8 by 1.9 inches if printed. I do plan on adding this digital painting to my web site but I’m not sure when exactly that will be as I have a number of other projects consuming my time. However, I have made this artwork available for purchase on Redbubble both as a print and as product artwork:

Dwarf Planet Pluto and its moon Charon on Redbubble

As to my Pluto/New Horizons presentation, I am currently slated to give my talk at the following venues:

When: Sunday, July 19, 2015 at 1:00pm
Where: Schaumburg Township District Library Adult Classroom
for the meeting of the Chicago Society for Space Studies
Address:130 South Roselle Road, Schaumburg, IL 60193
 
When: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Where: Roden Branch, Chicago Public Library
Address: 6083 N. Northwest Highway, Chicago, IL 60631

I will also be appearing in Streator IL on July 5th with time and venue to be determined. The city is including Pluto in its Fourth of July celebration as Streator is the birthplace of Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer at Lowell Observatory who discovered Pluto in 1930. I am fortunate in that I had the opportunity to attend a lecture about Pluto by Mr. Tombaugh and to briefly meet him afterwards. Mr. Tombaugh passed away in 1997.

New Horizons References

The following New Horizons articles contain additional information about the Lorri image of Pluto used in this story:

The main web site for the mission is the New Horizons web site at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

In closing I offer the following quotation:

Most great discoveries in science are preceded by intuitions and followed by simple or crude methods, procedures, and use of inferior equipment. Often a succession of attempts take place in a progressive sequence, just barely missing the discovery. This was especially so in the case of the discovery of the ninth planet, Pluto.

Clyde Tombaugh in Out of the Darkness: The Planet Pluto

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The 2010 NASA Moon Art Contest

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

NASA Art Contest

Last night I finished casting my votes as a judge in the NASA Life and Work on the Moon Art & Design Contest. The art contest is open to all high school and college students. This is the third year NASA has run this contest and this is my third year as a judge for the contest. The contest has really grown in terms of the number of submissions received. NASA has Elizabeth Ward, the art contest’s coordinator, to thank for that. Judging the first year was pretty easy in that it didn’t take much time. This year was another matter entirely. The number of submissions has grown dramatically.

The judging criteria has changed somewhat from the previous contests. In the contest’s first year, judges were expected to evaluate submissions based on the Artist Statement (worth 20 points), Artistic Elements (worth 30 points), Creativity (30 points), and Validity (20 points). Dropped from the criteria after the first year was the artistic elements component. This year the judging criteria are Artist Statement (20 points), Creativity and Artistic Expression (50 points), and Validity (20 points).

For the Artist Statement, students are to explain what inspired them, what artistic media they chose and why, and anything else they want to say about their artwork. Not surprisingly the quality of the artist statements was as varied as the quality of the submission.

The Creativity and Artistic Expression was more subjective as there are no really definable standards to guide a judge – other than their own experience. For example there was one artwork that was pretty good artistically but the imagination that went into creating the piece led me to give it more points than I would have on purely artistic grounds. Another judge may have responded quite differently.

In many cases, judging Validity was the most difficult. Validity refers to the scientific accuracy and degree of understanding of the space environment. For example in the case of a painting that consists only of a space suited astronaut walking on the surface of the Moon – does the person really understand that environment? Some artists did not reveal a lack of understanding in their art but did so in their artist statement. Others made their degree of understanding, or lack thereof, apparent in their art. For example, people without spacesuits on the Moon is kind of a dead give away.

In spite of the large number of submissions I felt compelled to vote for all submissions in the visual categories. My rationale was that voting for some but not other works would skew the final results in that the way in which I award points is likely to be different than the way in which other judges award points. The visual categories for the contest are 2D art, 3D sculpture/dioramas, Digital art, and Video. The two categories in which I did not vote were Literature and Music.

The Biggest Pleasure
What I found most rewarding about the experience was having the opportunity to review the art, think about its meaning, admire its quality, and read the artist’s words about their intent and inspiration.

The Biggest Disappointment
What I found most disheartening was that overwhelmingly the art depicted NASA facilities on the Moon. I know it is a NASA art contest but if we are going to have a large scale human presence on the Moon, then realistically it is going to take more than a government agency to make a go of it. When I go to the Moon, I want to hit Starbucks for my latte, stay at the Lunar Hilton, and dine at the local Uno’s. So while many of the students participating in the art contest showed a solid grasp of the lunar environment and what we could do on the Moon, I don’t recall any of them really featuring the role of private enterprise.

Conclusion
Given the recent decision of the Obama administration to cancel NASA’s plans for a return to the Moon, I will be most interested to see what happens with respect to the future of this art contest.

Links

To get details on the 2010 contest, visit the NASA Life and Work on the Moon Art & Design Contest site. You may also want to take a look at the Winners of the 2009 art contest

I previously wrote about the NASA art contest in the following blog posts:

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Space Artist Alan Bean Radio Interview

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Astronaut Glory II digital painting
Cropped version of Astronaut Glory II digital painting

Last night an interview with space artist and Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean aired on WBEZ here in Chicago. The interview, conducted on the PRI program The World opened with Alan Bean discussing one of his favorite paintings – a self portrait titled That’s How It Felt To Walk On The Moon and the emotions he felt walking on the Moon: "It’s an incredible moment. It’s a moment where you feel like you’re the luckiest guy on Earth. It’s a moment where your life is at stake and the people that got you there had better have built that suit right…"

Bean went on to discuss how he went about incorporating moon dust into each of his paintings. The key is a realization that Bean had regarding emblems that had been cut from his Apollo and Skylab spacesuits and presented to him by NASA upon his retirement from NASA.

"One day I was sitting down … and looking up at these emblems from Apollo 12… You know those things are dirty with moon dust. I had wanted moon dust to put in my paintings but didn’t have them and never thought of it being in those patches… If I would be willing to cut them up I could put them in the paintings. And then I would have pieces of my spacesuit in there and dirt from the Ocean of Storms… I hated to cut them up… but I’m using the rest of my life to make these paintings. I think it would be appropriate to cut them up and include them in the paintings."

Responding to a question about moon dust and posterity: "I believe in doing what you can because I’ll be gone in 10 or 15 years but your listeners need to think about this: they’re only going to be here once. Sometimes we think there’s other people around that will make up for what we don’t do. Sure they can, they can mow a lawn, they can drive a car, they can take a job and write an article or something but they can not do what’s in the heart of each of your listeners. And if they don’t do it, it will never be done again until time ends."

The radio interview lasted 8 minutes and audio of the interview is available at Moon Artist – PRI’s The World.

The interview was apparently timed to coincide with the July 16 2009 opening of an Alan Bean art exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum titled Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World.

To learn more about Alan Bean and his brand of space art, you can read an interview I had with Alan Bean many years ago and visit Alan Bean’s web site. There is also a brand new book of Alan’s space art: Alan Bean: Painting Apollo by Alan Bean I have not yet seen the book but am looking forward to getting a copy.

Check out this new youtube video of Alan Bean talking about his space art.

The Illustration: Astronaut Glory II

The picture used to illustrate this post is a cropped version of a digital painting I created a few months ago as my way of commemorating the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. A small quantity of signed limited edition versions are available on my web site at Astronaut Glory II Space Art Print.

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