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Wayland's Principia Cover Art by Alessandra Kelley

Wayland's Principia cover art by Alessandra Kelley

The art for Wayland's Principia is a large egg tempera on panel. It's a hard science fiction story; the image is a literal depiction of a scene from the novel. The aliens use a small black hole to power their ship (or rather, community of environments), and it distorts light around it in a gravitational lens. The black hole is between our viewpoint and the horizon of the Earth, thus the lensing effect.

This painting required a good deal of research and preliminary drawings, plus some enjoyable anatomical working-out of aliens. I trained as a scientific illustrator under Zbigniew T. Jastrzebski of the Field Museum of Natural History, one of nature's Mean Old Kung Fu Masters. Scientific illustration is an art that requires a lot of precision and observation, which can be great fun if you're so inclined. With a little work you can figure out where the viewpoint is oriented to the Earth.

The blacks in the painting have been digitally augmented, and the sharp-eyed will be able to see where I added a little to the right side of the painting, to make sure the alien was not cut off when the cover was trimmed.

Egg tempera is an ancient technique, used at least as far back as the classical Greeks and Romans (Pliny mentions it, and there are surviving egg tempera Egyptian portraits dating from the Greek Ptolemys). It's a simple medium, of pigments, egg yolk (which, contrary to common belief, does not color the paint yellow), and water. Complete instructions can be found at my teaching and art website.

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