This is my digital painting “Girls’ Night Out”, depicting two beautiful young women gazing at the sublime visage of a supermassive black hole feeding from a red nebula through Gothic-cathedral-style windows.
Of all the pieces I’ve made to date “Girls’ Night Out” just might be my favorite. The visage of the black hole and the fiery red nebula are already beautiful enough, and by themselves would rank up there near the top, but part of my original concept for this painting was that the black hole would be viewed, in silhouette, through tall, narrow windows with pointed arches that wouldn’t look out of place in a Gothic cathedral; segmenting the view like this really helps to frame it, adding something to the vision.
Little Emmas in Silhouette
But the last part of my original concept is what really makes this painting in my view: the two girls who are also seen in silhouette in front of the windows. While the rest of the painting is wholly original, I used as my model for the two girls in silhouette two portrait paintings by George Romney depicting Emma, Lady Hamilton.
As a huge fan of hers, I already think she was, in addition to being a remarkable woman, the most beautiful woman who ever graced a painter’s canvas, so her portraits were a good place to start. I found two that had the angle and view I thought suitable for my piece.
The painting on the left shows fair Emma as Ariadne, gazing a bit downward and a bit toward the viewer; the one on the left shows her gazing right at the viewer with her head turned back a bit, an expression on her face that says she’s up to something both cute and naughty. Both feature sumptuous dresses wrapped around her body showing off the curve of her ample breasts, and both feature locks of hair sensually dangling from her head.
The Story of a Girls’ Night Out
The right one’s expression I thought particularly appropriate for this piece, and the vibe carries over even in silhouette form, through the pose of her whole body (she was very good at that kind of thing, having basically invented fashion modeling with her “attitudes”). In the context of my piece the girl on the right looks like she’s mischievously leaning her body over to the other girl and turning her gaze toward her as if to whisper “Psst…come over here!”
The girl on the left is based on the left portrait of beautiful Emma, and even in silhouette form it sort of looks like she’s looking toward the viewer rather than her girlfriend. This, however, neatly explains why her counterpart would be trying to get her attention.
I like to think that in this scene the two girls are close friends, both of them passengers on a spaceship that is for whatever reason making a close passage of the supermassive black hole late in the night. Wanting to take in the view and keep it all to themselves the girl on the right rises from her bed and tiptoes out, detouring only to rouse her best friend, the girl on the left.
Her friend isn’t as enthusiastic about sneaking out to admire the black hole’s sublime beauty as she is, so she has to be gently coaxed into her naughty little scheme, and often stops to take a breather, yawn, and stretch, since she hasn’t gotten much sleep since she want to bed a few hours earlier. My piece catches her in one such moment when they’re close to the windows.
When both the girls reach their destination right next to one of the windows they’ll both watch the apparent motion of the black hole and the rotation of the black hole’s disk for a while as their ship flies by it.
Our naughty girl’s little friend will warm up to the idea as she takes in the sheer impressiveness of the sight, and with her head resting on her friend’s shoulder she’ll have a cute sleepy smile on her face, coming around to think it was a wonderful idea to come out and enjoy the view at a time when they could have the deck just to themselves.
That’s a cute little story, and I might indeed adapt the premise into a short story or something like that at some point in the future; the premise fits in well with the setting I established in my latest novel, “Warp Dawn”. Considering that Emma, a main character of “Warp Dawn”, looks a lot like Emma Hamilton, one of the girls may well be her!
Strong and Simple Painting
One aspect that I think makes this painting pop is the fact there are really only three colors: the red of the nebula, the yellowish white of the accretion disk, and the black of the silhouettes and shadows. The not-so-yellowish white of the background starfield is the only other color.
The red of the nebula surrounding the black hole I think was quite well done, like some of the nebulae I’ve (digitally) painted recently as I’ve gotten some more experience, looking quite sublime, ominous, and fiery, though an aurora might be a better comparison than a flame.
The accretion disk’s patterns on either side of the black hole are honestly the weakest part of the painting, but they do get the point across while still looking good. Much stronger I think was how I did the circular part of the accretion disk around the black hole, the part distorted into a circle by gravitational lensing. The strokes look very painterly, and I think the strong brushstrokes really help to add a certain ethereal quality to the vision.
Hmm…come to think of it after having written this I’m pretty sure this is my favorite painting I’ve made to date. No other artwork I’ve made has given me so much inspiration to build a whole story around it. If you love it so much you’d like to have a copy of it for yourself, prints, toatbags, and more of “Girls’ Night Out” are available on Redbubble . Keep your eyes on this blog and my Mastodon, Twitter, and Instagram for more art!