Deep Space Art: FAQs

1. What media do you use in the astronomy paintings?
Acrylic paint, and various mediums one can mix with acrylics to achieve different effects:  iridescence, textures, etc. 

2.  Do you take commissions?
Yes! Please email me at jodietighe @ for questions and information.

3. Are the paintings framed?
Some are and some aren't. Please inquire if you'd like a frame, or would like the frame removed. 

4.  How do you choose what galaxies or nebulae or star clusters to paint?
I pick images I find beautiful, and that also can make me imagine there's some sort of presence or numinosity in them.

5. How did you learn to paint?
The short answer:  I'm still learning, as the Spanish artist Goya wrote on one of his pieces when he was an old man. 
The long answer:  I've taken a lot of art classes from different artists and at different arts centers. 

6. Are you an astronomer?

No. I just have an unscientific layperson's interest in and curiosity about the subject, especially the images. My background is in Romance languages, ESL and educational technology / instructional design.

7. How long does it take you to do a painting?
That depends on how complicated the subject is, and on the size of the background (canvas, board, wall, etc.)

8. Do you use an art projector?
I haven't so far. It's all freehand drawing and painting. 

9. About your other art:  how did you get started painting on bones?
I looked at elk vertebrae on a friend's dinner table, and said they looked like little creatures marching across it. No one could "see" them but me, so I started painting bones so that other people could see the creatures. Then I branched out from vertebrae and started glueing or wiring bones together, and added more decoration besides paint.

10. What are the M and NGC numbers in the descriptions of the paintings?

 Charles Messier (1730 - 1817) was a French astronomer who, with his assistant Pierre Mechain, compiled a list of 110 deep space objects, partly so that fellow comet hunters wouldn't confuse them with comets. The objects in his catalog are still known by their Messier or M numbers.

These objects may also be known by their NGC or New General Catalog numbers. Work on this catalog was begun in the 1880s by J.L.E. Dreyer, working in part from observations by William Herschel (discoverer of the planet Uranus) and his son John. This catalog contains thousands of objects. Today, the NGC/IC project, according to its website,, "is a collaborative effort between professional and amateur astronomers to correctly identify all of the original NGC and IC (Index Catalog) objects, starting with the original discoverer's notes and working forward in time to encompass the work of contemporary astronomers such that the identity of each of the objects is known with as much certainty as we can reasonably bring to it from the existing historical record."

11.  What's a light year? 
Distances are stated in light-years, or the distance light can travel in space over the course of 1 year. The Sun is about 8 light-minutes from us, and Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, is 4.2 light-years away. For reference, light travels at 300,000 kilometers per second. So one light-year is just less than 10 trillion kilometers!