So I actually finished Stars are the Diamonds of the Poor sometime last week but waited until this weekend to arrange them in their proper order. I was thinking about doing another universe painting/drawing for quite a while and had even experimented with doing it in gouache but decided that it was going to be a lot of work and I didn’t really like the look. I put the idea aside but eventually stumbled upon the idea of using blackboard paint for another piece that I began working on of the sun. I thought the effect of white chalk on blackboard paint would be a good one and decided that it would be good to use for this project as well. I had originally thought that I would use one large panel for the piece and then settled on 3 smaller panels (18″x18″. I eventually made 6) for my initial start. I bought the panels and wood filled and sanded them twice, making sure that all of the edges of the surfaces where smooth and weren’t splintering. I vacuumed them and then wiped them down with a damp sponge. I primed them with grey acrylic primer, sanded them and then painted them. I used the white chalk pencils to make stars with. Sometimes after I sharpened the pencil, dust would explode onto the panel creating a seemingly massive cluster of debris. Each panel took about 6 hours to fill completely. About 2 weeks ago I worked on a test panel to try and figure out what kind of flat finish I could use in order to fix the white charcoal and protect the surface. It turns out that Matte fixative actually has a glossy sheen to it and I’m really interested in preserving the flatness of the original surface. Luckily, through testing, I found that Matte Varnish will preserve the flatness of the original surface. It’s about as clear of a coating as I could hope to find.
I thought a lot while making Stars are the Diamonds of the Poor of how the piece exists somewhere between abstraction and “representational” work, walking the line between the two. This is a theoretical and aesthetic position that I enjoy exploring the most I think. This piece reminds me a little of Vija Celmins’s Night Sky work and I thought about enhancing some of the star clusters with further detail but decided that I’d rather keep it abstract and allow the viewer to complete the illusion for themselves. I like the simplicity of the idea of creating a drawing of the universe, and in 6 parts makes it a little humorous. I also like the idea that the universe is so vast that there’s no possibility for fact checking on the accuracy of my star making; it certainly isn’t anywhere near our galaxy.