I am often asked, “What was your inspiration for creating your Night Sky Murals?” Or, “When did your interest in the night sky begin?” Well, the fact is that the “when” and the “where” happened at the same time. Let me share it with you here… and try to show you what I saw so long ago that totally stunned me. It happened when I was about 8 years old (way back in 1969) when we were camping in the redwoods in California. My dad had grown up there, working at his grandparents pack station as a youngster… and he would take us to those same mountains when we were growing up too.
(Where my father grew up, and where we used to camp grewing up. Now, I take my kids there to enjoy the same experience I did as a child. For me… I enjoy this forest, today, the same as I did years ago.)
So on this particular night we’d gone to bed fairly early so we’d be rested and ready to get down to the lake to fish at first light. Because it was so early in the evening when we went to bed, there were camp fires and lanterns, from our camp site as well as others that were nearby, casting their light onto the pines and redwoods all around us. And, with all of that light illuminating the trees surrounding us, the night sky wasn’t very noticeable. It was only slightly better than what we were used to seeing at night in the city.
(Looking through the pines and redwoods where we used to camp. And, this is the same area of sky where I first saw the night sky on a very dark night above us)
That is what happened to me that night so long ago. At about 2 AM, something woke me up. And, as I opened my eyes and looked up through the tree branches, my eyes beheld something that I had never seen before. I’d never seen that many stars. I’d never seen the Milky Way galaxy… and at first, fright is what I felt. Then, as I realized what I was seeing, the fright quickly changed to amazement and wonderment. WOW, I said in my mind!
If you have never been to a dark location; If you are only used to seeing a handful of constellations because they have the only stars bright enough to be visible through the light pollution, in and around a decent sized city; and, if you have never seen the Milky Way stretch across a night sky without having to squint and search long and hard… then this will seem a little strange to you.
But, get far enough out of town, away from all of the street lights and other lights that go along with making a city safe… and you’ll realize that those few constellations that you are used to seeing… are such a small part of what is really out there… somewhere.
(This is composite picture that I created, using the same picture of looking through the trees that I posted above, along with a night sky… to give an example of what I saw that night when I was 8 years old. The only thing missing is the Milky Way that was there.)
OK, there you have it. This is where and when it all started for me. This sight that I saw back in the day… stayed with me throughout my life. And, I always wanted to see that night sky again. I’d go back up to camp in the same mountains, but it seemed that I could only go when the moon was out. The sky was still nice, but it still washed out thousands of stars. So, there had to be a way to create that same sky for people who lived in the city… and the idea for Night Sky Murals was born.
I started right away trying my hand at creating a night sky… and boy, did I fail. But, I kept at it and tried again and again.
The murals got better and friends started wanting me to paint one for them too. They would make comments and suggestions and I would implement their ideas (the good ones, that is). That went on for years and the murals just kept getting better until I was offered money to paint one. That was very cool. I subsequently painted more and more murals, listened to suggestions, implemented them and then started painting again. Today, Night Sky Murals are known as some of the most realistic murals anywhere… and I have only my friends and former customers to thank for being unafraid to make suggestions.