Star Trek, the original series, broke so much new ground when it aired. The vision of one man brought to life. And while so much hasn’t aged well since the 1960s, so much is still relevant. I grew up watching the reruns on tv. Trying to figure out what was going on. Along with the classic Doctor Who, I have very strong memories of watching Star Trek from a very young age.
When it returned in movie format, I was old enough to see and enjoy them but I didn’t. My first Star Trek movie was actually Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. You know, the one with the whales and time travel. At that point, I hadn’t seen a lot of Trek so it was like visiting an old friend and picking up where we left off.
The movies are, honestly, hit and miss. There’s clearly a lot of ego in them, and plot holes big enough to fly a starship through. I’m not here to debate that. They were also a love letter to the fans. Fans brought Star Trek back and kept it going through so many classic trek movies, to the Next Generation movies to now, the reboots.
In my view, the best classic trek movie is The Wrath of Khan. It tied into the original series beautifully. It had a strong story. And the characters had both depth and growth.
And yes, the fucking thing still brings me to tears every single time.
In spite of my history with Star Trek, I’ve never painted it. Sure, I spent my teen years and early twenties worshipping at the altar of the Next Generation. You probably won’t see me paint too much of that now. But classic trek was largely untouched. Maybe because I wanted to honour it and my skills just weren’t there yet. Maybe because, this 30 day journey has me thinking about my fandoms and just how they’ve moved me my whole life.
The friendship between Kirk and Spock is a driving force behind the success of the series. And nowhere is it more apparent than in The Wrath of Khan. At the beginning, Kirk struggles with aging, both trying to accept his years and hating every moment. Spock, knowing more than he shows, is telling his friend to stop moping and get back on the damn horse already.
I picked this scene because it’s something that speaks to so many people and more so, speaks to me. At what point do you put down your dreams and act your age? When you say I’ve got more years behind me than in front of me? And putting a passion, something you were meant to do, down and walking away, is a death in itself.
This was one of my longer painting sessions. About 4 hours to get this done. And partly because of the mosaic image in the background. They’re in Spock’s quarters and he has some Vulcan things in place. The symbol in the mosaic is an IDIC which stands for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. The more basic tenet of Star Trek, and in my mind, as important as the portraits in the foreground for this painting.
I knew, that to honour this ideal, I had to paint the individual mosaics. But I also knew that painting them in lines, grid style, wouldn’t work. It would be too distracting, especially if any pieces in the grid were off.
Painting is always a series of decisions and choices. Dealing with light, reflections, colour and even whether to paint something outright or just imply it. I’m constantly making decisions. Sometimes before I begin, sometimes as I go.
I decided to imply the mosaic. It fits my style of painting and doing so, kept the IDIC in the background without overshadowing the characters.
As with everything, balance became an issue. I had to finish the background completely which caused some colour issues as I went so I started adding in foreground colours when I could, knowing I would be doing the faces last.
I struggled a lot with Kirk’s face. His profile in the source material wasn’t very clear. Unfortunately this movie is old, so the video I had was slightly blurry even in HD. And in a profile like his, every shadow and highlight matters a lot. I think I played with his face colours for about a half hour. Spock, on the other hand, was easy peasy.
But in the end, I was pretty pleased with what I made. A moment between friends.
“Of Course The Ship Is Yours”
Acrylic on canvas