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What It’s Like to Paint in Space

Nicole Stott – pilot, scientist, engineer, astronaut, wife and mother – logged a total of 104 days in space during her two NASA flight missions, reports the Catalyst. During the first mission, she became the first person to paint a watercolor in space.

Stott describes the difference of the painting process in space:

“But it was so cool, because even before the brush touched the water, it’s like the water was getting sucked onto the brush. Because of the way surface tension works up there.

“And then when you went to move the wet brush to the paint: Just before you got it there, the water was moving to the paint. And then the same thing coming off. You had to be really careful with how much pressure you put on to the paper, because the paper wanted to suck it all in! So you’re kind of dragging this blob of colored water along.”

Stott has since retired from NASA but continues to paint. On her website, theartisticastronaut.com, she leads with a quote from Alan Bean who died last Saturday in Houston, the fourth man to walk on the moon and another astronaut-turned-painter:

“It’s always nice to meet a kindred spirit. I’m delighted that Nicole is the first astronaut of the Space Shuttle/Space Station era to choose art as her next step in life. All of us that have been fortunate enough to fly in space find it difficult to describe the beauty of our universe in words alone. I am thankful that Nicole has chosen to help share these amazing sights we have all seen through her very beautiful artwork.”

The International Association of Astronomical Artists, of which Stott is a member, calls her work “Cosmic Impressionism.”

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