Since May 15, 2017
About This Piece
July 20, 2020 – August 23, 2023
(1,130 days or 3 years, 1 month, 4 days)
15,257 stars + 17,097 threads all individually
placed and shaped by hand
PSB background = 7.6Gb 400dpi 100x70cm
When I began my lockdown art project, I had no idea that I would be working on it nearly every day for more than 3 years.
The reason this piece took so long is because I had to start-
But it's the fact that so much time has been spent on it already, that makes it worth being prepared to lose a few weeks, or maybe months of really hard work, otherwise I would never be happy with it, and then all that time, plus the much longer time that is still needed to complete it, really would have been for nothing.
Also my style evolved while creating this, and each revision was trial and error over several months, but eventually my Stardust style emerged, everything is made of stars.
My style has been developing since the late 1980s, when I would draw pieces using watercolour-
I also had to wait until building a PC that could cope with processing 7Gb files without lagging was affordable, and this is the first artwork that allows me to explore taking the style to a new level.
When I started this piece, AI was still a rumour, but as I finally complete it, suddenly AI is an accessible reality, so I feel it is important to point out that my method is very much by hand. The closest I get to anything automated is using gradients, but I control every part of them by hand, so it feels traditional to me, it's just that instead of using a pencil and ruler I have much better tools to achieve the same goal, and it takes much longer.
I'm so glad I decided to document the progress, as it shows the decisions I made, and the experiments and developments. As well as regular stills, I also recorded my screen while working on key moments, so that it shows how much work is involved and confirms that it is indeed a drawing and none of it is computer-
This piece was persistent in my mind for a long time, I guess it formed as a representation of how it felt in those early days, when the UK experienced our first COVID lockdown, but it had been lurking as a ThoughtSeed for long period before then.
I could see it clearly but wasn't sure how to go about achieving it, but in 2019, depression and loneliness, and the dark, plundering thought-
You might never see the same artwork twice, it may even change as your eyes move across it, the texture flips from appearing to be either softly pushed-
This reflects how the drama which leads to our despair is unpredictable, sometimes changing rapidly and in front of our eyes, constantly moving. Sometimes the artwork will actually change in the blink of an eye, quite literally. This is a very different form of interactive art, but it's all in the mind.
Trying to depict motion and form in formless clouds was an interesting challenge, but I wanted to show how deterministic causality can be found in what first appears chaotic and turbulent, how events follow events, each situation affects each other, and consequences have consequences.
The first restart happened when I realised I had focused on the wrong direction for the energies, favouring the downpour instead of the force of the intense, destructive winds, and to undo and correct this this would mean taking it to a crucial point several months back in the process.
But as this energy is fundamental to the final piece, I used my now better-
I restarted to different points so many times I have lost count, but each time would be an advance towards a working system of cooperation and causality between the competing streams and directions, and with each start-
I'm so glad I persevered and wasn't deterred by the seemingly Sisyphean task of making things right, no matter how hard it may seem.
If I had allowed despair to discourage me from seeing the value of the rebuilding, this piece would be one of my rejects. No one else would ever see it, and I would regard it as a mistake which would have wasted so many back-
About This Piece