Monday, May 18, 2015

Picturing the Night Sky for One Moon Cycle

New Moon (M.A. Reilly, 5.18.15 - Gelatos, chalk pastels, white gesso, black and white photograph)

I have long been fascinated with the night sky--especially the moon.  For the last few years I have made hundreds of photographic images and traditional media works.  In a project I am currently beginning with teachers and students I made a slideshow--a visual slice of life-- using some of those images (see below).
Blueblack Night (M.A Reilly, 5.18.15)

For the next month (28 days), I'll be making images of the night sky--based on what I observe and
wished I might have observed.  I hold little allegiance to reality. I plan to use a range of media and to introduce children and teachers to that media as they study the skies.  I hope that they might explore some of the following traditional drawing and paint media, as well as digital media as they create a series of drawings, paintings, photographs, and mixed media collages that represent what they saw and imagined as they studied the sky during the next 28 days.  They'll create these works alongside some writing.

Drawing and Paint Media

  1. Watercolor cakes
  2. Reeves gouache paint set
  3. Faber-Castel Gelatos
  4. Chalk pastels
  5. Gel medium
  6. White gesso
  7. White glue
  8. Crayola Color Switcher Markers
  9. Metallic markers
  10. crayons
  11. Sakura white gel pens
  12. Sakura color gel pens
  13. Inktense Color Drawing Pencils
  14. 2H, HB, B and @b drawing pencils
  15. Charcoal White pencils
  16. Micron-01 black ink pens
  17. Erasers
  18. artist tape

Digital and Photographic Media

  1. Polaroid camera/film
  2. Digital photography


  1. Black drawing paper
  2. Watercolor cardstock
  3. Artist Tiles - Black
  4. Artist Tiles  white
  5. 70 pound white drawing paper
  6. cardboard
  7. found papers
  8. origami paper
  9. rice paper
  10. fabric scraps
  11. newspaper
  12. magazines
  13. photocopies


  1. This is really cool. I love how prepared you are for the project. I look forward to seeing your images.

    1. Thanks Kim. I don't feel as prepared as I would like. I'll let you know how it goes .

  2. Beautiful! My kids are always teasing me about my obsession with the sky... I wish I were one of the teachers or a student in your class!

    1. Thank you Robyn. I'll let you know how it goes.

  3. Oh, this truly took my breath away. I just started focusing on photography and don't know how to shoot the moon. Any tips would be very much appreciated.

    1. I shoot with a tripod. I always shoot manually and most often use a 300mm lens. ISO is set to 200 (I shoot with a Nikon). Aperture is f/11. Shutter speed is most often 1/250. Adjust the shutter speed based on the moon's brightness. It helps if you have an automatic shutter release, although I mostly don't use that. Shooting the moon with clouds is really hard.

  4. Love that song - beautiful.

    My oldest (5 yrs old) has an interest in the lunar cycle. I'll have to share some of your images with her.

    1. I hope you do share some of the images with her. How great she has that interest--and does so at 5! Perhaps a sketchbook and some colored pencils or the gelatos might be magic in her hands. Thanks for taking time to read and leave the comment:)

  5. Beautiful, and makes me think of Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer"

    When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
    When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
    When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the
    How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
    Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
    In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
    Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

    1. Love that poem and it is one that is in the unit of study that frames this work. The students are learning about the Big Bang. The unit closes with a picture book version of the Whitman poem.