If These Hills Could Talk
Gale Crater, Mars: What was once a Martian lake is now a rover's playground
Sunset at Gusev Crater, Mars
Cratered Limb in Sunlight
If These Hills Could TalkThe Curiosity rover observed Mt Sharp in Gale Crater on Mars in 2015, from which this painting is inspired. Within these ridges (red, lower right), rolling hills (orange-yellow), rounded buttes (blue-ish purple), windblown cliffs (distant pink), and mysterious mountain (yellow) is a story about a ancient Martian land, exposed to water and wind in varying ways that both resemble processes on Earth and present something entirely new. I created this painting primarily with a palette knife, applying thick, textured layers, with some minor brushwork to add thinner glazes of paint. Each layer was allowed to dry between applications, which for me is a lovely representation of how a planetary surface is modified over time: gradually added to, changed, covered, removed. The colors are exaggerated and altered from the actual colors imaged on the Martian surface to provide visual interest. I took this artist liberty with the idea that, while my efforts are far greater in intensity, it is symbolically similar to the color adjustments scientists use to show subtle differences in mineralogy, elevation, etc. Ultimately, my goal was to create a landscape that uniquely represents our celestial neighbor, not replicates it. Therefore there are inconsistencies with the actual landscape that exists just next door, and I’m okay with that.If These Hills Could Talk by Monica Hokeilen, oil on canvas, 24”x48” To learn more about the actual image of Mars and the Curiosity mission, as well as other missions to Mars, visit mars.nasa.gov.
Gale Crater, Mars: What was once a Martian lake is now a rover's playgroundThis painting is inspired by a 2015 image from the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater on Mars. Mount Sharp (a mysterious mountain that sits in the middle of Gale Crater) rises in the distance (upper left, yellow) while layered rocks (foreground) formed as sediment settled to the bottom of an ancient lake, 3.3 to 3.8 billion years ago, and slope down into the crater under the weight of the water. I created this painting using palette knife, brush, and a scraping tool that allowed me to apply, remove, and change the color of the layers of paint. As this was my first MarsScape, I struggled to find a color scheme that was both true to the current arid, dusty conditions on Mars, while not painting a muddy, dull landscape. Therefore, I took artistic liberties, stretching the Martian palette to richer, brighter and more varied hues. My experimental attempts at finding the right color scheme can be seen in the layers of paint. I chose to create a triptych (set of three paintings to show one scene) to symbolize the process that scientists use of stitching together multiple separate images into one before it is released to the public. Together, the images tell more about the scene than they would individually.Gale Crater, Mars: What was once a Martian lake is now a rover’s playground by Monica Hokeilen, oil on canvas, framed to 22” x 50”
Sunset at Gusev Crater, MarsThe thin, dusty, Martian atmosphere scatters the red wavelengths of sunlight in all directions, resulting in a mauve Martian sky at 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 aureole around the small distant sun. This painting is based on an image taken by the Spirit rover at Gusev Crater in May 2005.Sunset at Gusev Crater, Mars by Monica Hokeilen, oil on canvas, 24”x36”
Cratered Limb in SunlightThis rocky planetary body, cratered and geologically inactive and devoid of life, orbits a star, possibly the same star that shines on our own Earthly surface. We see both the dark, shadowed side of this planetary body, and the bright sunlit limb. Palette knives, brushes, and a scraping tool were used to apply the paint in layers, creating glowing overlapping color and texture.Cratered Limb in Sunlight by Monica Hokeilen, oil on canvas 18"x20"
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