It all started with Steve the cat.
One day while scrolling Instagram, I came across a photo of Steve sprawled across a lint-covered yoga mat. There was nothing particularly special about the photo. There wasn't even a message, just some cat hashtags, but I was entranced. To my mind, it was as if Steve was dancing across a sky strewn with stars. I couldn't get the image out of my head. When that happens, the only thing I can do is paint it out. And so I began to paint, but the image still wouldn't leave my mind. This was no simple cat painting; this was a cat amongst the stars... like a constellation!
I've studied the stars a little bit, but couldn't ever recall seeing a cat constellation. This prompted me to do some research. It turns out that there is a cat constellation--or rather there was. Steve had led me, in typical cat-style, down a convoluted path to stumble upon the lost constellations.
According to the Physics Dept at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University, the earliest description of constellations is in the Greek poem Phaenomena, written around 270 BC, though the poem indicates that they were created long before then. In 150 AD, Ptolemy documented 48 constellations in his book The Almagest, becoming the foundation for the constellations we know today. With the advent of trading, navigation, and cartography in the late 1500s and early 1600s, more constellations were created, and the Scientific Revolution of the 1600-1700s saw the creation of even more. In 1919 the International Astronomical Union was founded. At their general assembly meeting in 1922, a formal list of 88 constellations was adopted. This left many well deserving constellations out in the cold.
Those figments, the constellations, were created because they existed powerfully in someone's mind, much like Steve the cat dancing in the stars in my mind. I've created The Lost Constellations to commemorate them and have tried to depict them as accurately as possible based on ancient books and maps. I dedicate this series of paintings not only to the constellations and their creators but also to the amazing power of the creative spirit.
A portion of the sale of each constellation will go to a related cause.
Next week I'll begin to go into the constellations in more detail. Sign up for my newsletter so you don't miss any of it!
Have any thoughts you'd like to share? Post your questions and comments below. You can go here to see and buy the paintings I've created for this series so far or take a look at my other collections here.