Astronomy has been Russell's passion from a very young age. He has studied the night sky for decades, becoming an accomplished amateur astronomer with observational contributions to astronomy organizations such as NASA and ALPO. Utilizing his own array of telescopes, along with several opportunities to observe at professional observatories, he studies the stars as the 19th century astronomers did – through the viewfinder, not through digital imaging devices. His obsessive documentation of celestial phenomenon has resulted in a body of astronomical work informed by actual scientific theoretical research and infused with his own interpretations.
The 10" reflector in Russell's observatoryin the
Santa Monica Mountains. (photo: Stuart Gow)
It was the astronomy work that he became best known for. This body of work began with flat drawings of stars and deep sky objects, often within a circular motif, as you would see it through the telescope's viewfinder. It was a natural progression for the drawings to move from circular to spherical and in the late 1990's, Russell began creating his signature globe drawings, introducing three-dimensional sculptural elements into his work.
Soon after, he began adding text to the drawings, a particular sort of prose which he refers to as "bad poetry." The text depicts his personal commentary and adds a visual texture to the landscape.
Atlas of Lunar Drawings, 1996
MAKING THE GLOBES
The globes are fabricated in fiberglass then covered with archival paper by professional paper conservators. Russell draws directly onto the coated globe with a special archival ball-point pen over a wash of watercolor, then a sealant is applied. Globe sizes range from 8 inches to 72 inches in diameter.
© 2010-2016, RUSSELL CROTTY
The Milky Way (Northern Hemisphere), 2000