Thursday, January 28, 2010

Phoenix Nebula

Here's another picture from a series I did in July 1988. It's airbrush work as the others were, again with enhanced colors. With nebula pictures I usually go with bright primary colors (red and blue mainly) because they are easy to pick out in a dim exhibition hall, and they are somehow "heroic" (Superman's costume is red and blue, because it was easy to print and easily recognizable). I call this "Phoenix Nebula" because the central red area looks kind of like a bird in a flaming nest.

Looking closely at these airbrushed works through the electron lens of Photoshop, I am bemused at how grainy they look. The airbrush sprays particles, not pixels, and the resolution of the painted picture, ironically, is much less than it would be if I used modern digital "painting" techniques. I also used primitive means to get the "cloudy" banks of nebula gas surrounding the central red area. I tore heavy paper in cloudlike patterns and then sprayed over it using the paper bits as a mask. Nowadays Photoshop is equipped with fractal texture generators to do this work. It is possible that paper tears in a kind of fractal edge, depending on what it is made of. Photoshop rules these days but airbrushing is not a dead art, I plan to use the old-fashioned sprayer on my next major work.

"Phoenix Nebula" is acrylic on illustration board, 7" x 10", July 1988.


Tristan Alexander said...

I like the over all feel but it seems to be missing something, and I can't quite figure out what.

Pyracantha said...

Tristan, you're right, it could have used some gas filament or cloudy details in the center area.