Image credit: Marie-Dominique Verdier / Composite: Lucy West
Lucy has over 30 years experience as a professional artist. Her works have been commissioned and/or exhibited by notable venues such as NASA's Launch Control Center at Kennedy Space Center, The House of Representatives in Washington D.C., the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center in Sagle, Idaho, fine art galleries and private collectors worldwide. Her space and science compositions are popular in the aerospace and science communities and are collected by astronauts, astronomers and scientists. Her works have been published in books, magazines and websites (some examples sited below):
NASA website: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory
NASA website: Ames Research Center/Kepler Mission
Slate Magazine: Best Astronomy Images of 2012/Phil Plait
Discover Magazine: Bad Astronomy/ Phil Plait
Ron Miller's book: "The Art of Space"
In both 2012 and 2013 Lucy won Best in Show at the internationally celebrated annual space conference, Spacefest. She is a member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists - IAAA .
Lucy uses an experimental technique she describes as 'art exploration'. Through creativity she explores all that she is curious about; nature, science, quantum sciences, physics, space exploration, the cosmos, human nature, and the past, present and future of our planets diverse collection of life and human cultures.
"Creating a painting often feels equivalent to taking an exotic excursion into mysterious lands where I am awed by the discovery of the unexpected along the way. As I travel across my canvases I learn about the complexities of the subjects I'm rendering, the physical or emotional dynamics, and the hidden details that typically send me reeling with a moment of joyful insight. I gain deep satisfaction when I discover something that might not have surfaced for me through any other channel of inspection or expression than the creative process.
"People often ask me why I'm drawn to paint astronomical subjects. Beyond believing that space is truly humankind's destined frontier, I also find the cosmos beautiful, inspiring, frightening, alluring, encompassing, and offers answers to many of the proverbial questions asked by humankind throughout time. These are all the right elements to harness my fascination.
"My love for astronomy began in 1986, when for the first time I looked through a small telescope. Though what I saw was an unimpressive fuzzy daub of dim light known as Halley's Comet, my psyche consented to the paradigm shift that instantly overwhelmed my awareness. I was hooked! As I gazed through the lens at the subtle elongated glowing blob, it's photons striking my retina through 39 million miles of travel, I realized how much I didn't know about the universe and how much I wished to know. The stars and planets were instantly alive in my mind and filled my being with so many questions that I felt intoxicated with wonderment. Because painting has always been my method of investigating the things I want to learn about, it wasn't long before nebula, galaxies and planets began showing up in my work.
"While living on the east coast of Florida during 1984 to 2000, I had the opportunity to see many shuttle launches from the Cape Canaveral area. It was just a natural progression that I became inspired by space exploration. Now, as I look back over my shoulder, hindsight reveals that I've been drawn to space since the age of four when I witnessed grainy black and white images broadcast from the lunar surface as Apollo astronaut, Neil Armstrong, stepped onto the dusty ground of The Sea of Tranquility. Somewhere between July 1969 to December 1986 something gelled, the planets aligned (pun intended), a light went on and rendered me starstruck (pun intended).
"The most surprising affect that's come to light for me from all my years of researching and rendering the stars and other worlds, is that I've grown to love and appreciate planet Earth even more with an indescribable depth."
- Lucy West
Image credit: Jackie Taylor / "Lucy in the Sky" / 2012
Born 9/11/64, Lucy grew up in Frankfort, Ky., immersed in the creative environment of an artistic family. She began selling wildlife and landscape paintings at age fourteen. By seventeen Lucy had launched a full-time business selling fine art and custom airbrushed apparel.
In 1984 Lucy moved her business to Daytona Beach, Florida. This era began a decade of artistic transformation as an unyielding desire surfaced to explore new aspects of the creative process. Experimenting with abstract concepts and multi-faceted techniques, images rich in symbolism emerged. As she broke away from traditional subject matter Lucy developed a personal definition of what she found to be artistically important.
In 1990 Lucy reformatted Lucy West Studios to include fine art commissions, large scale murals, architectural and engineering renderings, illustrations for film, music and literary markets, and commercial graphics for corporate and advertising companies.
In 2000 she relocated to southern California and exhibited with various galleries including Antiquarius (Beverly Hills) and Artisans Exchange Fair Trade (Claremont). During this time Lucy concentrated her creative study on culturally diverse methods of spiritual seeking.
Lucy and her husband moved to north Idaho in 2005 near the historic town of Sandpoint. She is deeply inspired by the nature, wildlife, and breathtaking dark skies surrounding her home studio.
5/7/92 - Astronaut Kathy Thornton seen here moments before boarding Space Shuttle Endeavor for its maiden voyage. Crew member Kevin Chilton smiles as a white-room technician displays a gift that Kathy's fellow U.Va. alumni, Mike Leinbach, (Shuttle Test Director at the time) presented her for this momentous occasion. The shirt insignia "Hoo On A Vous" refers to U.Va. mascot (Cavaliers Wahoos) and the extravehicular activity Kathy was involved in during the mission.
Leinbach described for me what Thornton would be involved in during the EVA and asked for the U. Va. mascot to be illustrated on the robotic boom. At the time, I knew very little about space shuttle's, robotic boom's or EVA"s and after much research I realized just how exhilarating of a job astronauts have! Considering the seemingly super human feat of being a space traveler and working "in" space, I had fun illustrating the mascot as a 'Super Hero'.
My interest in astronomy and space exploration made this commission an enjoyable project, but knowing that the end result would be given to Thornton made it even more special. However I did not know that she would be receiving the shirt just before zipping off into space! A real treat. The 8" x 10" photo is one of my prize possessions, the inscription Thornton signed; "Lucy, Thanks for making me look so good on the shirt! Best wishes, Kathy Thornton."
Shortly after the 9/11 tragedy's I began a series of sketches, watercolors and paintings. "Freedom Endures" continues to be a popular favorite from this small collection.
I submitted this piece to Antiquarius, a Beverly Hills gallery that was exhibiting my work at the time. Owner Jerry Thomas, responded to "Freedom Endures" enthusiastically. Thomas and I developed a project that dedicated proceeds from sales of limited edition prints to help rebuild ground zero.
A few months later while attending the West Hollywood Awards Banquet, Thomas and I had the moving experience of presenting a special first run print to Brad Burlingame, the brother of Captain Charles F. Burlingame, pilot of American Flt. 77, which struck the Pentagon.
Lucy West mural painted on a two car garage door, Ormond Beach, FL. - installation early '90's.
This commission became an amusing issue for the owner as she found a regular intrusion of visitors stopping in her driveway day and night to learn details about the mural. "God's Gentle Giants" continues to receive attention from passerby's.
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