Painting in progress

40Ēx 30Ē(inches) Acrylic Painting

  Thanks for taking the time to look at my site. I am looking forward to this painting. I am going back to working on larger canvases on this one after finishing a few smaller scenes. There are going to be an incredible number of individual stars in this Milky Way Galaxy scene but when itís finished, all those hours it will take to put the approximately 300- 400,000 individual stars in their correct location and each put on one at a time, will be worth it.   I have seen it in my head and wow, I canít wait to see it.    In the forground of the spiral arms of the galaxy which you see now, will be the moon and the Earth will be behind the moon in the upper left.  The view of the moon will be the side of the moon we never see and each crater will be located correctly.   Within the galaxy I will paint in different nebulaís (gases and dusts) like the Orion Nebula, Globular (star) clusters like the Hercules star cluster and of course all the constellation stars where they belong. 

  I will download a picture onto this page each time I work on this painting so you can watch the painting grow from a beginning into what it will become in the end.   You will see the intricacy that goes into the painting as well as the insanity that goes into painting all those stars that are still only a fraction of the 100 billion stars in the galaxy.  These first stars are each very, very small and represent the farthest away stars from us and in the same line of sight towards the center of the galaxy and along the plane of the galaxy showing the thickness of our galaxy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Thanks again,    Rick.   -  Look up 

To view my current piece click on the photo below


July 11, 2008


July 16,2008


July 15,2008

Building the layers of stars that make up the spiral arms of the galaxy.


July 19, 2008  The Earth(L) and Moon (R)

July 18, 2008


August 1, 2008- Still putting in the blue background stars


Building the arms of the galaxy. This is a time consuming process where I find my smallest brush and just keep placing the very tiny far away stars, building up the layers of stars at varying depths within the galaxy from our view point.

The blue stars are the dim lit farthest away stars.  The spot in the lower left is the Andromeda Galaxy and on the right side below of center are the large and small Magellanic Galaxies.

Just for information, for the next few months, Jupiter is the bright ĒstarĒ in the south shortly after sunset. 


To the left, is a section showing the individual stars I have painted in so far.  Most of the stars are so small itís impossible to get a clear picture with the camera I am using but every speck of light that you can see is made of several tiny individual stars. With this canvas at 40Ē across, itís hard to guess how many stars are already in this scene but it must be somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 stars It could be even more.  If anything, while placing each star, these paintings are an experience in meditaion.                                                                                                                                            The moon is at the bottom right corner.

August 1, 2008


August 2, 2008


August 17, 2008- Painting the gas and dust lanes within the spiral arms.


August 3, 2008


August 21,2008

 Iíve enlarged the moon to its correct size

I am building the gases and dusts within the spiral arms of the galaxy that block out the stars behind them.  As in the real galaxy, I literally blocked out about 15,000 stars by painting the gas clouds over the stars I previously put in. Iím not sure why I do this but like our galaxy. there are stars behind those clouds. I think itís just knowing that as to why I do it.- Aug.21,08.


August 25, 2008 - Iíve finished painting the dust and gas clouds within the spiral arms.  Now begins the long process of painting individual stars in the galaxy.  Iím guessing in the end I will have 300,000 stars in this scene.


August 31,2008 - The blue paint is very small individual stars.  I lost count but there must be nearly 35,000 blue background stars.


September 10, 2008 - Still building the background stars.


--- September 8, 2008 - This is where it gets a little crazy.  If you compare this picture on the left with the August 31ís pic above, you notice a little progress but not all that much. In reality, since the Aug. 31 pic Iíve put in about 15,000 more stars. Iíd work for 9 hours and then step back and would ask myself, ď whereís all the work I just did? These stars Iím putting in now are small so when I lay down 10,000 of them, they really donít cover a large area and itís hard to notice all the work I just did. When I finally finish these far away background stars and then begin putting down the different layers and depths of stars at different distances from us, the true effect of 3-dimensions will begin to see through. This is a good size canvas so there are going to be a lot of stars in this scene.


September 10,2008 - Closeup of the stars.


September 11, 2008 - If you can notice, there are about 8,000 more stars than yesterdayís picture.

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September 15, 2008 - Tomorrow, I should be able to finish the blue, far-background stars and finally begin building the layers of stars at different distances out to the larger constellation stars. 

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September 16, 2008


If you look towards the south, soon after the Sun sets, you will see a bright ďstar,Ē brighter than all the stars in the sky tonight.  This is not a star but the planet Jupiter. Jupiter is about 500 million miles away from us and four moons can be seen with binoculars. Also in the sky are the Ring Nebula, which is straight up when the Sun sets next to the bright star Vega, and the Hurcules star cluster, a ball of a million stars, just to the west of Vega. 

September 18,2008


Some things Iíve looked at this summer through my telecopes,- Whirlpool Galaxy, galaxies 101, 81,82 and about 30 other galaxies, all the nebulae near the center of the galaxy and star clusters floating above and below the center, the Dumbell nebula, Andromeda galaxy, seeing the moons revolving around Jupiter and seeing the different colors of stars. It was a good summer looking in and out of our Milky Way Galaxy. 


September 20, 2008

Itís hard to see the work I did but there are thousands of more stars in the last two days work compared to a few days ago.

September 21, 2008

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October 1-3, 2008 - As you can see, this is a long process.

October 8. 2008


October 8, 2008


October 12, 2008


October 18, 2008 - Close up

October 18,2008


October 19, 2008

You really canít tell but I worked 9 hours on the Oct.19th painting and itís hard to see the changes.  I worked on both edges of the spiral arm, laying down stars as I built the shape of the gas and dust lanes.  I figured I put down 7 to 9 stars per second, minus time to put more paint on the brush so after nine hours, itís a lot of stars that I painted in.  Well itís now 12:07 pm Monday afternoon and I am going to hang up here and start painting again until probably midnight tonight. In tomorrowís picture, I wonder if youíll be able to see all the work I will do today.  Iím hoping to finally finish these tiny, tiny stars and to begin to put in the next layer of stars. This scene should have a lot of depth when finished                                                                                                                                                                                                          


October 21, 2008 - Yesterday, I worked 11 hours on this painting and almost finished building the shapes of the gas and dust lanes.  Today, Iíll paint 10 to 11 hours and I ĒamĒ going to finish these tiny stars, I swear, I hope.  To say this is a long process is an understatement.  The thing that keeps me going is, I know that when itís finished it will be a painting you wonít be able to look away from. These pictures are fine but seeing it in its 40Ēx 30Ē real size, just captures your imaginantion even now though it is far from being finished. 


    October 22,2008 - I am finished with the right side of the spiral arm and today I should finish the left side, building the shape of the black dust lanes.  You can barely see it in the left picture but where the spiral arm bends upward on the left side, just to the right under the bend is the Andromeda Galaxy.  I also finished Andromeda.  In the black space on the bottom half, the black space where the bigger white circle is (the moon), I painted in a few thousand stars in most of that area but they are not visible in the pic on the left. You can see some of them in the picture on the right next to the moon. In a little while, today, after my batteries for the camera recharge, I will take a close up picture of this black area to show you how many stars are there as well as the Andromeda Galaxy.  


October 22, 2008 - The start of The Andromeda Galaxy and stars that are not seen in the above pictures. .........


Oct.23,2008 - The Earth, Moon and the Andromeda galaxy


October 24,2008 - Close up


October 23,2008 - I Ďve put in more stars and color to the Earth and Moon.


October 24, 2008 - Adding more stars.

October 24, 2008 - I am going to take a step away from this painting today.  Iíve been putting long hours for weeks now laying down each star and every time I close my eyes, all I see are stars. After painting 8 hours yesterday, last night I deamt I was painting stars all night.  Iím going to take today off and will return to the painting tomorrow (Saturday). Sunday morning I will put the next picture up. Stars, stars, stars. stars, Oooooh. Iíve gotta stop that.  Time to clear out.  Thanks for looking at my site.               Look up,   Rick


October 26, 2008 - Yesterday, I only painted a couple hours but still thatís another few thousand new stars.

October,29,2008 - You can probably see some subtle changes but itís hard to see all the stars Iíve put in since the last pic.  there are a lot more stars now, theyíre just so small . Iím starting to think there may end up being a lot more than the 300,000 stars I originally thought there would be in this scene when finished.


October 31,2008 - Again, itís probably hard to see the stars I have added since the last pic but thereís somewhere near 8-9,000 new stars since the last pic.


November 1, 2008

Just to note, the black area above the blue Earth and below the bigger moon is actually filled with thousands of tiny, tiny stars. My camera at this distance just wonít pick up these tiny stars. Some can  be seen in Oct.23 pic.


November 3, 2008 - The last couple days, Iíve added near 8,000 news stars.  I am almost done with this layer of small far away stars and should finish this layer tonight.  I would guess I still have somewhere near 25,000 more stars to lay down before I can finally get to the Moon and Earth.  These pics are good but itís not like seeing it in person.


November 6, 2008


November 11, 2008 - More background stars. Do you know, there are a lot of stars in our galaxy?


November 16, 2008 - Itís hard to see the progress but I worked on the right side for the most part.


November 19, 2008 - 12:30 am - These 2 pictures have a yellow glow because itís midnight and I took the picture of the painting with a light and yellow colored walls.

40Ēx 30Ē acrylic paint


November 21, 2008


November 25,2008


December 2, 2008 am - Now that I can see how bright the stars will be, I am going to start working on the Moon and Earth.  First will be the Moon.


November 8, 2008 -  I have put some more of the constellation stars as well as smaller stars.  Again, I am looking at a star chart as I place the Constellation stars.  They all should be in their correct location. when finished.


November 15, 2008 -


November 18, 2008 - 10 am


A close up with a good view of the individual stars. As the layers of stars grow, the depth of stars in the galaxy begins to show.


November 23, 2008-


Close up of stars


December 2, 2008, 5 pm - Today, I began placing the craters on the Moon. I used a Moon chart for the placement of the craters. This scene shows the side of the Moon we never see, which is full of craters.


December 3, 2008, 11:45 pm - I am building the Moon, putting detail in the craters including shadows.   I have brought out the craters to save their place and tomorrow I have to lighten and brighten up the whole Moon so it stands out more in front of the white of all the background stars. I really want to bring out the depth of space from the Moon, to the Earth and then to all the layers of stars in the galaxy.     

I am running out of time with this painting as I want to have it in a show at the museum on December 12th.  I figure I can finish the Moon by this weekend, finish the Earth in one day and then place all the constellation stars in another day, which should leave me 2 or 3 days to put in another 20,000 stars around the galaxy before Dec. 12th.  When I finish, I may start drinking.  In all, this painting will have taken me 6 months to finish and I feel it.  I am star-d out.  For the last 4 months, I have worked on this painting almost every day and close to a thousand hours in that time. I am ready to finish it and move on to another after a short break to get my senses back to normal.                  Thanks for looking - Rick


December 4, 2008, 11:50 pm - I worked about 9 hours on the Moon today, building the shadows and highlights in the craters. If I can finish the Moon tomorrow and finish the Earth sunday, I might have enough time monday thru thursday to finish the stars and finish the painting in time to show it friday. These pics were taken with a halogen light and yellow walls so there is a yellow tint to them.


December 6, 1:20 am - I didnít finish the Moon but Iím happy with the progress today.  I havenít decided how much of the night side dark Iím going to put in. I could make it a ďfull moonĒ or a completly dark ďnew moonĒ or a ďquarter moon? I have to take tomorow off. Iím working in the planetarium and then my band is playing tomorrow night. Iíll work on this again Sunday night and place a new picture up here that night or Monday morning.  Thanks for looking.

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December 8, 2008 - I ended up putting a large shadow on the Moon.  Iím not yet finished with it, it still has too much of an arc.  It should be a little flatter.   Iím going to bypass that and move on to the Earth and then I will go back to finishing the placement of the constellation stars and then about 20,000 more background stars.


    December 9, 2008 - I am finished with the Earth and Moon for now.  I have tomorrow to finish the stars and thatís it.  The painting will have to be ready to show at the reception Friday evening at the museum. Thursday, my band is playing the after party for the TV show ďExtreme Makeover.Ē  The show is in Connecticut building a new home for a family and last week they asked the band to play at the Foxwoods MGM Grand Ballroom.   It should be a blast.   Itís  1 am Wednesday as I take these pics so again these pics have a yellow sense to them with the halogen light and my yellow walls.


December 14, 2008 - Placing the constellation stars from a star chart.


December 19,2008 - Iíve finished most of the backgroung stars.

The reception at The Childrenís Museum for my paintings has been postponed until January 5th 2009. This actually works out, giving me a few weeks to finish this painting instead of rushing through it.  I have put in many hours in the last 4 months on this painting and I need to take a few days off to clear myself. I will return to it this next Wednesday Dec. 17 and will download the next picture Thursday evening.                                  Thanks for looking,     Rick


The great thing about astronomy art is that when you have hung it for a while and your senses have become used to seeing it in a particular way, you can turn it any way and you get a totally different perspective, a different view. I think I like it best standing up like this on the left.  If not later on, I can always rotate it.                                                                                                                   

Itís hard in this picture to see the stars to the left of the Moon but there are a lot of them.  Besides the faint ďblueĒ far-far background stars, there are about 5000 ďcloser backgroundí stars in the black looking area to the Moonís left.                                                                                                                     Next, I am going to darken down the spiral arms which will set it further in the background.  Without revealing the technique (sorry), this is a step where itís possible to go too far and the work on the arms could be lost.  It happened to me once, the first time I did it and I had to rebuild the whole arm.  Since, I have paid extra attention to this process. It can be hard getting it right where I want it without going even slightly too far which would ruin what I have worked on.   

December 19 -  

Sunday evening - the winter solstice.  The Earth is at its closest to the Sun but the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun so it is cold and snowing here in Connecticut. I havenít touched the painting since Friday. Working in the planetarium, playing out with the band and shoveling snow has kept me busy the last 2 days.  Friday, I darkend the bright light along the galaxy and it came out pretty good.  Iím not sure if I darkened it enough, setting it further into the background from the Moon and Earth but it is close. I still have the option of going back and darkening it more. I am still looking at the black clouds and wondering if I like that shade of black compared to the darker ďspaceĒ black. I may add some darker black areas to it which will be painting over thousands of stars but I have to make it look right to me. It will also give depth to the clouds. I wonder how many stars I have blackened out through the years.  The painting prior to this one, I blackened out about 80,000 stars because their color wasnít quite right. Oh well.



December 27, 2008


Alright, I blackened out a lot more stars in the gas and dust lanes.  Every time I looked at it, it bothered me, it just didnít look right.  I blackened out probably 10,000 stars but now I like the way it looks. I added a darker black which along with the lighter black gives the clouds more depth. 

Since the last photo, I have also painted in around    7000 stars and some more of the constellation stars.  Iím pretty happy the way it is coming to life now. Again, I have to say that these picture do not do the painting justice. These photos show only about 2/3ís the stars that are actually in the painting.   Thereís a lot of depth in this scene.

I started this painting the beginning of July and have put in I donít know how many thousands of hours in the last almost 6 months but I also have almost finished building a galaxy, our galaxy.  I think I may finish by this coming weekend and will show it at The Childrenís Museum then.                    If you are in the Connecticut area and interested, I am having an invitation only closing reception for the paintings on Monday January 5, 2009. Email me for in invite.                           Thanks,      Rick

40Ēx 30Ē


101.6 cm x 76.2 cm


January 13, 2009 -  The painting is hanging in the planetarium at The Childrenís Museum, West Hartford Ct.     I am taking a short break on this piece for a quick painting Iíve been thinking about. There are already so many stars in this scene that it doesnít matter if the missing stars are there or not.  I can see where they are missing so I still have to put them in and I will, just not right now. I donít know if anyone could see where the stars are missing so itís alright to show it now.   I am just really  ďstar(ed)Ē out right now and I need time away from ĒSTARS, STARS, STARS.Ē   You can see why Iím sure. These paintings are not easy to complete because I do get ďstared outĒ after putting in 100,000 stars or in this case more stars.  What makes the ďagonyĒ so worth while, is now when the painting is close to being complete, I know there is not another painting out there like this one and well, it just looks awesome. Iíve said it a few times earlier that these pictures do not show the painting as it would if the painting was on a wall in front of you and thatís true but I think you would find it hard to look away from if it were on a wall in front of you.  Our place in the galaxy.   It shows how un-alone we really are.

Thanks for looking everyone, Rick Costello

May 17,2009 - For the past couple weeks I have been working on this painting, adding close to 10,000 new stars, especially in front of the bars of gases and dusts to throw the bars further into the background.  In the next couple days, I need to go to the museum so I can take a picture of it.  After I do that, which should be before Wednesday 5/20, Iíll upload a picture showing the work Iíve done since the last picture.     Rick


September, 9, 2009 -                      Finally finished this painting of the Earth, Moon and a ďlotĒ of the 500 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. The Earth shows the North and South Americaís, the Moonís craters are in their correct location and the 300 to 400,000 stars are in their correct location in the galaxy.  There could actaully be even more stars in this scene. There are way too many to count, I know that much. I think this is my favorite painting to date. Again, this picture does not truly show this painting as it looks in person. 

I hope you enjoy my paintings.

Thanks for looking

Rick Costello

40Ēx 30Ēinches

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