I have created several space-related prints, but War of the Worlds is my “planet opus.” This image was inspired by the 1938 radio play by Orson Welles, where a fictional alien attack was broadcast, news bulletin style, over the radio. Some of the listeners tuning in didn’t realize that the reports were part of a performance, causing panic around the country.
My version creates an intergalactic battle on a grand scale - and at the heart of the scene is a radio, set atop a period typing table. (Or is it a robot? Look closely at the “face” made by the radio and the “arms” made by the table.) The scene looks as if a child, inspired by the radio play, set up this drama in a playroom.
War of the Worlds was painted on a large (36” x 48”) canvas, so I had room to create a complex scene. I also used this image to explore the idea of harmonic proportion, which is the classical link between mathematics and art.
Starting in the Middle Ages, many artists and architects believed there was a certain geometric proportion (called “the golden ratio”) that was the most aesthetically pleasing in various forms of design. War of the Worlds follows the golden ratio with regard to object placement.
Arranging these components to fit this aesthetic was a challenge. I spent hours in Photoshop with individual photos of the toys, composing the overall scene. Once I got an arrangement that worked, I had to recreate it in the studio and incorporate the lighting to produce those great shadows.
There is so much going on in this scene - from the chalkboard with actual astrophysics formulae to the trompe l’oieil blue painter’s tape and scraps of paper. To learn more about this painting, I invite you to see my War of the Worlds video playlist on YouTube. There, I show all my steps, from set up, to lighting, to painting details like blue tape and string.