The Galactic Visions of Michael C. Turner

“Galactic Runes” ©1994/2015 Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art

For my third post I am sharing more of my Galactic Visions Space Art paintings along with my thoughts about the art and scientific phenomena. Most of these images come from my late early years and “middle years” of the 1980s and 1990s. These are the years that truly established the foundation of my space art and brought a deeper focus on the philosophical as well as the artistic imagery that has become my artist icon. I have always sought to create paintings that permit each viewer to interface on a personal level with the imagery in my art. I truly want my audience to feel the spirit of space, to feel and know they are an integral part of the Cosmos. In so doing, they become one with the painting on their own level and can have a richer and, hopefully, a deeper understanding of the Cosmos. For this reason, I rarely include any sentient-made artifacts, especially advanced technological identifiers. Those have their rightful place of course, albeit, not in my vision of the Cosmos. I do, occasionally, create paintings of an archaeoastronomincal and astroarchaeological nature. Even then, I focus on ancient technology and philosophy as it relates to the Cosmos and imagery in the painting. I also augment this by writing descriptors to accompany each of my spacescapes. Some are relatively brief while others are rather detailed. An example of a brief descriptor follows of the painting above titled “Galactic Runes.”

"GALACTIC RUNES" by Michael C. Turner
©1994/2015 Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art 
Acrylic on stretched canvas using traditional bristle brush techniques ~ 48"X60"

A brilliant explosion of light and stellar plasma erupts from a nearby pulsar as it interacts gravitationally with its invisible companion, a black hole, as viewed from within an ancient volcanic caldera on a moon orbiting an Earth-like planet in a remote galaxy. Such astronomical events leave their own "galactic runes" (ancient symbols, writing, glyphs) to be decoded by intrepid intergalactic explorers.

I generally recommend that viewers observe the painting/work of art first and then read the descriptor. Any work of art should stand on its on merit without a descriptor or artist statement. Nevertheless, I feel that a better understanding of both the artist and their art can be gained by employing such text. Imagine what insights we might have if all the past artists had included such text with their works of art. Wouldn’t you like to know what Leonardo da Vinci thought about some of his art? If Leonardo had written more about his specific works then we just might know why he painted that slight smile on his “Mona Lisa!”

“Galactic Memories” ©1980/2015 ~ Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art

Galactic Memories
©1980/ 2015 ~ Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art
Acrylic on canvas using traditional bristle brush techniques

A barred spiral galaxy in a galactic cluster is viewed from the icy surface of a terrestrial class planet located in an opposing (colliding) satellite galaxy. The depicted barred spiral's extremely elongated spiral arms reveal the gravitational distortion effects enacted by its nearby galactic companion. The two galaxies' gravitational fields interact thereby transforming the overall shapes of the two galactic companions. Myriad stellar systems will experience dramatic effects over the millions of years the two colliding galaxies perform their "cosmic waltz." Some stellar systems will be destroyed while others will experience little or no significant effects. New stars will be formed from the remains of other stellar systems and the galactic siblings will be transformed in shape and type. In fact, the two may merge to become one super galaxy with trillions of stars.

The Cosmos is essentially infinite. The currently observable portion is a microscopic speck relative to its true size and nature. Nevertheless, astronomers have identified millions of galaxies within this miniscule portion and new ones are constantly being imaged by even more powerful ground and space telescopes. To give a bit more perspective, this is only in the observable Cosmos within this particular dimension of time and space. It is theorized that there are perhaps an infinite number of dimensions and or universes. For this reason, the term “multiverse” is now frequently factored into our concept of the Cosmos. I make the distinction between Cosmos and universe. From my perspective, the Cosmos is all that exists and is comprised of all the multiverses. Lest this gives one the feeling of insignificance; each element in the Cosmos, both great and small, is unique and vital to the greater whole.

I previously shared that my “Galactic Visions” represent my spiritual connection to the Cosmos and its creator. I realize that some people may prefer not to consider any spiritual and/or “religious” aspects of their existence. That is of course each person’s choice and I shan’t debate the pros and cons within this series of blogs. To me, the Cosmos is the magnum opus, the great work, of the Creator or God as I and others may prefer to call this powerfully creative force. Regardless of personal ideologies, the Cosmos is undeniably a wondrous work of art regardless of how it came into being. My paintings always manifest this within them in some form or another. The painting below is one I used for the cover of my “Christmas In The Stars” limited edition Christmas card series which I began in 1991. I create the painting for the card and accompanying verses along with a descriptor of the painting which serve as the matrix for the card. Since I personally print, number and sign each card individually as well as inscribe them to each intended recipient, I limit the edition to only 100 cards annually. The paintings descriptor is below the image. It is my way of expanding the imagery of the painting and sharing a bit of my personal thoughts as the artist.

Eternal Star * Cosmic Manifestation
©2010/2015 ~ Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art

Shinning brilliantly from the womb of a birthing nebula, a new-born quasar "star" illuminates the central regions of a newly forming spiral galactic mass or proto-galaxy. Galactic arms spiral outward, multi-thousands of light years (multi-trillions of miles), revealing myriad clusters of star-filled nebulae with swirling orbs of stellar gases and dust which will ultimately give birth to new generations of stellar families. An Earth-like planet is bathed in the virgin light of the cosmic lighthouse, otherwise known as a quasar, as it transits creating an intriguing imagery of a celestial, Christmas Star, vignette. Two other companion worlds (one in the extreme upper right and the other near the extreme left middle) are approaching similar stellar conjunctions making this a tri-stellar/planetary conjunction. Such scenes as this, once considered only hypothetical, are now supported by astronomical science. In recent years extra-solar worlds (planets orbiting other stars/suns outside Earth's solar system) have been discovered using optical space telescopes, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as ground-based radio telescopes. These worlds orbit distant stars /suns, some similar to Earth's sun while others orbit giant and super giant stars many times larger than Earth's closest star, the Sun. Considering the aforementioned, one would reason that life must assuredly exist on at least some of these remote, alien, worlds. Since God is the Creator and Master of the Universe, all life comes from Him and we can, therefore, more fully and truly embrace an ever deeper and richer understanding of the following verse from Psalms 19:1 . . .

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalms 19:1 (NIV)

Below is a one sheet poster of the all the paintings I used for my entire Christmas In The Stars Christmas card series from 1991 – 2014. I am even now completing this year’s painting which shall serve as the cover image for my 2015 card.

“Christmas In The Stars” © Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art ~ A collection of all the card cover art from 1991-2014

I have a strong background in both archaeology and astronomy. It is therefore only natural that I combine the two from time to time even though my focus is generally not on sentient technology and or artifacts in most of my paintings. It is essential that I clarify what I mean when using the terms “archaeoastronomy”and astroarchaeology in their various forms. Strictly speaking, archaeoastronomy is the study of how ancient civilizations developed their particular observations of the sky and the astronomical elements therein. This comprises not only the artifacts, if any have survived, but also text/imagery and oral accounts passed down in history as well. The ancient Egyptians had a rich history of sky lore and observation. In fact, many of their monuments and art are directly related to their sky mythology and science. The Great Pyramid of Cheops and the surrounding lesser ones are assuredly more than just colossal stone monuments to ancient pharaohs. Most everyone knows of the megalithic structures of the iconic ancient Stonehenge in Great Britain and its obvious relation to sky phenomena. The planet has many ancient sites which once were thriving centers of an astronomical nature. The other term, which few people understand is “astroarchaeology.” Perhaps this is because Earth based intellects have yet to truly experience any such astro sites in their limited space explorations. One could well consider the sites of the Moon landings in the late 1960s to early 1970’s as the first and, to date, only planetary body outside the Earth where humans have physically explored. We can of course add to that the unmanned space probes which have charted some of the solar system and at least one is traversing interstellar space. Mars offers future opportunities to employ the fledgling discipline of astroarchaeology . The following paintings, which have perhaps a touch of archaeoastronomy and a hint of astroarchaeology, might be considered fanciful to some considering the aforementioned. Nevertheless, I present them here as very plausible realities somewhere in the Cosmos . . .

Traditional Art / Paintings / Space Art / Hybrid Digital
©1997/2015~ Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art

In this painting I have depicted a space "solstice" within a genesis nebula as viewed from the surface of a hypothetical planet with a Stonehenge-like configuration. (One of my archaeoastronomical paintings.) The original acrylic on canvas painting (36x72”) was photographed and then slightly digitally modified for this image. The original painting was purchased by a private collector in the UK who plans to exhibit it in an archaeoastronomy related museum not far from the historic Stone Henge in Salisbury England.

*Featured in the International Association of Astronomical Artists' 2011 book "The Beauty of Space."
*Featured Craig Musselman's 2011 book "Machines and Magic."

The next painting, “Star Hymns” goes a bit beyond the previous “SpaceHenge” painting. In it, I have depicted another extrasolar solstice on a galactic scale. The painting is done a bit more expressionistic to capture the emotional atmosphere within the painting. There can be little doubt that sentient beings erected these colossal megalithic portals based upon their observations of these celestial phenomena. One can well imagine that myths and legends merged with the scientific significance of such cosmic events.

"Stellar Rituals"
© 1997/2015 ~ Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art
Acrylic on stretched canvas using traditional bristle brush techniques ~ 36" x 60"
(One of my vintage Archaeoastronomy/Astroarchaeology paintings.)

A cosmic alignment viewed through, mist enshrouded, colossal megalithic portals on a remote planet in a satellite galaxy . . . The galactic arms of the background galaxy have been contorted into irregular bands from the gravitational influence of its colliding companion galaxy and the interaction of its own gravity. A double beacon of light jets from the bright nucleus of the galaxy, as seen through the megalithic portal alignment, cloaking a super-giant black hole. This galactic encounter will create a stellar ritual with gravity serving as the ultimate oracle. Many star systems will be altered; some shall meet their ultimate destiny while other neophyte stars will be born. In the wake of chaos a new order will arise . . . Such a view would certainly capture the attention and imaginations of sentient beings across the myriad stellar systems. Myths, legends, and rituals would surely emerge from both primitive and advanced civilizations. So called "primitive” civilizations would interpret these celestial events from a superstitious and/or religious perspective whereas “advanced” civilizations would likely employ what they consider “scientific” knowledge to interpret such cosmic phenomena. Either way a kind of ritual would assist in creating order from apparent chaos.

"Stellar Rituals" is #8 in my Christmas in the Stars limited edition card series. Each year I select one of my paintings to use on the cover of my "Christmas in the Stars" Christmas card series which I began in 1991. I realize that everyone may not appreciate space art in this context however, I trust you shall still enjoy the paintings for what they depict scientifically if not spiritually . . .

The painting below, Celestial Manger ~ Nova Magnificant,” is another in my astroarchaeology/archaeoastronomy series. It is a bit more subtle as to whether or not the stone arches are natural or modified in some way by sentient beings. It too served as the cover of one of my past ‘Christmas In The Stars” cover art.

“Celestial Manger ~ Nova Magnificant”
©2003/2015 ~ Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art
Acrylic on stretched canvas ~ 48x36”

In a remote multiple star system deep with a star birthing nebula a brilliant newborn star illuminates interstellar space across myriad light years revealing a mysterious planetary system. Like celestial magi, time sculpted, or perhaps modified by sentient beings n the ancient past, rock formations seem to gaze heavenward as though following this brilliant star in it nativity as it emerges from its celestial womb, becoming the king of stars in luminosity. After glowing brightly for billions of years it too shall eventually sacrifice its solar energy and, in a sense, be resurrected into new life as its expended elements, its star dust, combine to glow bright once again in a new generation of newborn stars.

This painting was also the cover of one of my “Christmas In The Stars” cards. I would like to share the inside verse I composed for this one below.

Celestial Manger
©Michael C. Turner

Far Across The Milky Way,
A Tiny babe In A Manger Lay,
Resting His Head On Golden Hay.
Holy Eyes Reflecting His Wondrous Stars,
Celestial Beacon, Guiding Magi From Afar,
To The Holy Child, god’s Perfect Star.
Across The Cosmos His Light Does Shine,
Revealing His Love In Your Heart And Mine,
Celestial Manger, Christ’s Cradle Divine . . .

May Christ, The Wondrous Star, Guide You To God’s Perfect Light . . . Natural phenomena often instill a sense of awe in all of us, even when we understand the natural forces which produce them. On Earth, natural celestial phenomena greatly influenced the culture of many ancient civilizations. From the dawn of humanity, such phenomena have been recorded on cave walls, megalithic structures, monuments and an array of other objects. Written records in the form of symbols, glyphs and complete text have survived the sands of time to provide us with a time machine of sorts which helps us to better understand those cultures and the influence astronomical phenomena has had on shaping our world culture. This process continues today as humans begin to leave their terrestrial womb, mother Earth, and explore the vast celestial womb, the Cosmos in all its wondrous mystery. The last two painting for this installment are actually companion pieces so I present them together here. The first one, below, is titled “Mysterious Galactic Legends.” This is one my “middle career” acrylic paintings on stretched canvas from the 1990s. It is one my favorites of which I still have it in my personal collection.

"Mysterious Galactic Legends"
© 1994/2015 Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art
Acrylic on stretched canvas using traditional bristle brush techniques ~ 30"X 40"

A neophyte galaxy, viewed nearly edge-on, from the misty mouth of a lunar cavern creates (with a bit of imagination) an illusion of fire jetting from the open mouth of a dragon. Cave formations, silhouetted against the illuminated cavern opening and the golden galactic background seem like cloaked figures paying homage to a galactic oracle as another satellite moon transits the plane of the galaxy just above and to the left of an Earth like-planet. This scene depicts one of myriad mysterious galactic vistas which might possibly stimulate legends of galactic proportions for sentient beings witnessing such galactic phenomena across the universe.

("Mysterious Galactic Legends" is #4 in my Christmas in the Stars limited edition card series. Each year I select one of my paintings to use on the cover of my "Christmas in the Stars" Christmas card series which I began in 1991. Christmas 2015 shall mark my 25th year of cosmic Christmas cards. 

The second painting in this duo is title “Neophytes Of The Galactic Oracle.” It was part of a joint space art exhibition of July of 1997 in Pasadena, California which was hosted by The Planetary Society in conjunction with the International Association of Astronomical Space Artists (IAAA) of which I have been a long time member. This exhibition was in honor of the NASA Mars Pathfinder Mission which was taking place at the same time.

"Neophytes Of The Galactic Oracle"
© 1994/2009 Michael C. Turner ~ Galactic Visions Space Art
Acrylic on beveled museum wrap canvas ~ 48"X60" using traditional bristle brush techniques

A jetting/quasar galaxy, viewed along its galactic plane (edge on view), dominates this scene of an exotic galactic satellite cluster. A nomadic group of intergalactic asteroids, created from the collision of rogue planets pays homage to their new gravitational master, “The Galactic Oracle," as "Neophytes” passing though the outer fringes of its outer sanctum . . . with time they shall be part of the galactic inner sanctum as the galaxy's gravitational incantations initiates them into a new realm . . .

(This is a closer view of the “golden galaxy” viewed from the mouth of a cave in the companion piece titled “Mysterious Galactic Legends” above.)

*This painting was part of The Planetary Society and IAAA (International Association of Astronomical Artists) space art exhibit, Exploring the Art of Space, for Planetfest July, 1997 in Pasadena, California in conjunction with the Mars Pathfinder Mission.

For my next and last installment, I shall present some of my more current traditional media paintings along with some of my digital space art creations.

May all your visions be “Galactic Visions!” ~ Michael C. Turner ~


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