by Simon Kregar

"The Grander Scheme"

One of the fundamental reasons I have gravitated to science and astronomy in my work has been the desire to communicate my passion for the two subjects. From an early age I was fascinated by the night sky and manned space flight. Growing up in New York City didn't offer many chances to see the stars, but visits to the Haden Planetarium and nights out at our cottage on Long Island opened the universe to me. I don't think there was ever a time when I didn't realize that the stars were other suns, other places, a physical reality. To truly know my place in not only the Universe of size, but of scale and time was one of the fundamental spiritual moments of my life. There is no greater ecstasy to me than to begin to unravel and understand the mysteries of the universe.

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“Sulphur Volcanos on Io.”

Like most other space artists, I have a process approaching any work. Usually a fact or a random photograph will catch my eye. More often than not it is my emotional response to the material that I want to capture. I will settle on a photograph, and then crop it and manipulate it in Photoshop until I am happy. Then I will then sketch that preliminary picture out on the canvas and start working on basic colors and shapes, always refining my vision as I go along. I really get the feeling that I am carving with light, and it is at this point that the painting takes on a sculptural quality to me.

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“Walk Into Darkness”

Often times I will start with a clear vision of what I want to accomplish, yet the observer will read a totally different emotion into the work than I intended. Take my painting “Walk into Darkness” which depicts Expedition 35 Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy completing a spacewalk on May 11, 2013. I really wanted to convey the isolation and utter quiet one must feel in the vacuum of space. I have been very fortunate to become friends with several astronauts who have been on spacewalks and they all love this painting, but not for the reasons I would think. On a spacewalk, you are constantly bombarded by things demanding your attention, the noise of the suit, Mission Control, your partner, the job you came to do, the environment, the Earth below. They all expressed to me many times how they wished they could have just taken a moment and reflected on what they were doing. In a way, this painting allows them to do this.

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“Shore of the Cosmic Ocean”

Still, I'm often asked, why science? Neil Degrasse Tyson said it best in a Cosmos episode, “A lot of people want to live in a small world - and that's okay - but I want to live in a big world that encompasses all of this.” I want to look up and know my place in the grander scheme of the Universe and to be able to communicate the beauty and power of this incredible place, that's my life's mission.

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“Stephen Hawking”


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