“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Have you had one of those moments where you are witness to a scene of such beauty, a moment of such striking clarity and significance, that you want to capture it to revisit for a lifetime?
Once I was on a ranch in Colorado miles from the nearest town in early winter for cross country skiing. The sky at night was so star studded, I couldn't tell where one star ended and the next began. It was a glittering, shimmering mass of brilliance. I was struck both by my insignificance as a small speck in a great cosmos but also alternately by my importance as a part of such a wonder. A look at the night sky has always served as an important reminder to me and enables me to put worries and concerns into perspective against an endless vista.
Shortly after my Colorado trip, I read an article explaining that we are all made of the same materials as stars. Essentially we are stardust. To capture the wonder I felt, I painted "We are Stardust". I added the silhouette of a couple on a dock, because beautiful sights are best enjoyed with someone you love. I simply had to add glitter to create the brilliance I remembered.
When I posted the painting on Facebook to gauge the response for it as a potential painting subject for upcoming events. the reaction was lukewarm, so I never taught it. A month later, I received an email from Tanya who explained that it sturck a chord with her, and she really had hoped to paint it.
It was quite a surprise to hear from her. For years, I had morning Sociable Art events at a coffeehouse in Apex. Coincidentally, Tanya and her newborn son came to the coffee shop on the same day each month to meet with her friend. my class would paint for two hours while she and her friend sat on the nearby couches chatting. I saw her each month and made small talk.
January passed into February and into summer and Fall. I watched her precious son grow from from a baby to a toddler. His happy little face and gleeful smiles highlighted our mornings while his baby babble sweetened the air and wove its way between our brushstrokes. After a while, they stopped coming to the coffee shop. Time passed. Then one afternoon I was facilitating an event at a town fair, and Tonya walked up holding the hand of a little boy. She had to remind me of who she was. I was shocked to see how much her son had grown and how much time had passed so quickly.
A few months later, she sent the email asking to paint "We are Stardust", because it reminded her of special times spent with her son on a dock in Missouri gazing at the sky. It's moments like these which make me thankful to be doing what I do. If my artwork can touch something inside of someone, then I am doing something worthwhile.
If this particular painting brings back a happy memory for you, I hope you can paint it with me. I neglected to take a video while I painted mine, but I did find a video which shows a night sky painted by artist, Joan Pons, using a similar technique to mine. It might be helpful to watch this prior to trying the painting yourself. You might also want to practice your paint "flicking" technique.
If you have an idea for a striking painting, a photo of beautiful memory, or a dream you want me to paint, reach out to me. It may become the subject of an upcoming Sociable Art event Your vision may become an inspiration for others. Or at the least, maybe I can paint it for you to keep in your home as a reminder of a special time.