Instead of a blue sky like ours on Earth, the thin, dusty Martian atmosphere scatters red wavelengths of sunlight in all directions, resulting in a faint mauve Martian sky as seen from the surface. But at sunset, as the light travels through thicker reaches of the atmosphere, the red light is scattered so much that robotic eyes on its surface capture a blue disk of light around the small distant sun.
It was that phenomena and the images taken by the Spirit rover at Gusev Crater, Mars in May 2005 that inspired me to create this piece. This was my first finished MarsScape (Martian Landscape) and one of my first paintings created mostly using palette knives, with lots of patience allowing layers to dry between application, some brushwork for blending and glazing, and repeated experimentation with color until I got the look I wanted. I struggled with color because it felt wrong. Not only were there no fluffy clouds to add drama and the sun was too small, it was surprisingly difficult to make a mauve-ish sky not look muddy or Earth-sunset-y. And to be honest, it was a challenge to not have green anywhere in the painting (almost, anyway - I did sneak it into a few spots). But I kept working at the color, and one day it all fell into place. Now I can sit back and enjoy the sunset. :-)