When I first saw this image I thought it looked like petrified trees dotting the surface of Mars. Likewise the image could be microscopic hairs on strange skin:-) However this amazing image is, in fact, a photograph which shows dark sand emerging on the surface of the red planet. This is as a consequence of some of the ice-covered dunes melting in the warmth of spring sunshine.
This classic view of Mars was taken by HiRISE one of the most incredible cameras working in space. The camera rides onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It subsequently produces feasts of data and true beauty to share with all of us.
A little Mars chat
Earlier this week I found a lovely NASA poster in my outreach box. It compares Mars to Earth in their similarities and differences. My grandson was fascinated by both planets even though he is only 3 and a half. We had a great chat about it all. As a result the session brought some memories of painting Mars blended with hints of the Earth.
As an artist, I am totally fascinated by the surfaces of other worlds. Images taken by the solar system explorers are very inspiring. Many of my canvases emerge directly from my observations of a tiny fraction of an image or are influenced by an entire object.
Mars Earth Merge
My painting Mars Earth Merge is directly influenced by space images in tandum with my observations of surfaces on Earth. Keel Beach in Achill Island, Mayo, is one of my favourite places to walk. It is six kilometres long, with a constant roar from the Atlantic waves. In addition to walking there I enjoy taking macro images of the sand. Observing how the rough sea makes channels in the sands delicate softness also captures my attention. Generally the markings are delta-shaped, water etched, well defined, but fine. On Keel sometimes the wind whips up dry sand and sends it at great speed to wrap itself around rocks on the wet sand.
This painting started as a depiction of those sand deltas on Keel. As it developed I had the idea to use Martian colours often associated with MRO HiRise Images. I used pallet knives to merge Earth-style water erosion on a beach scale with long-gone water erosion on Mars which is on a larger scale.
Furthermore, I developed the link by adding a beach stone and lots of sand in layers on each side of the Mars / Earth delta. The sand I used was too perfect therefore I had to enhance it by introducing particles of pastel in yellow, and orange to give it some depth. The addition of a little seaweed gave a 3 D kick to the work.
Here are a few images from those walks that led to my painting.
28 inches X 22 inches Acrylics, Pastel, Rock, Sand and Seaweed on canvas.