Monday, February 9, 2015

Study for the Constellation Canis Major

“Study for the Constellation Canis Major” 8” x 11” casein.
Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2015

Let me start by saying that Canis Major is a tough shape. The poor dog has to sit up to fit all the star positions correctly. And this shape is just plain awkward! In the old star maps Canis Major is shown as a greyhound, a coursing hound. (All the better to chase Lepus, I suppose.)  I decided to change him to another rabbit-hunting breed, the Maltese Pharaoh Hound. I thought the Pharaoh Hound's erect ears and reddish color might add interest to the constellation's otherwise static shape.

In order to show the dog’s color in harmony with the star field, I shifted my previous yellow/purple color palette to orange/blue. I also changed the look of the stars within the dog, making them bright points of light.

So how did the study work out? 


I like the way the colors turned out, in both the star field and the dog. That said, I prefer the warmer yellow/purple palette to the cooler, orange/blue scheme. I also like the way I painted the stars in Lepus better, they’re more subtle and allow better appreciation of the animal as a whole.
"Study for the Constellation Lepus"
Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2015
What's next?

I may do some sketches of Canis Minor and see how he can work in the composition for my final painting. Because the little dog has less stars in his constellation I may be able to put him into a more dynamic running position without compromising the look of the old star maps. More to come on this soon...

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