The 100 #45 – Russell Crotty

Great Comet Over the Acid Hill.

Russell Crotty (born 1956) is a Northern California based artist whose work incorporates astrological, nautical, and surfing themes. Astronomy has been Crotty’s passion from a very young age. Over the years, he has become an accomplished amateur astronomer. Utilizing his own collection of telescopes he studies the stars and celestial objects then interprets them onto globes and within drawings and books.

Great Comet – detail with text.

His 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. In the late 1990s Crotty began creating his signature globe drawings, introducing three-dimensional sculptural elements into his work.

Venus Over High Glade. 2006. 12″ diameter sphere. Ink and Gouache on paper on fiberglass.

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.

The globes are fabricated in fiberglass then covered with archival paper by professional paper conservators. Crotty 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. The resulting body of astronomical work was informed by actual scientific research, yet infused with the poetic license of the artist.

Venus Over High Glade 2. 2006.

Holly Myers of the Los Angeles Times wrote “Crotty is certainly a man of science, although you might find it a quaint sort of science next to the high-tech efforts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech.  His work demonstrates a sublime patience and a tireless faith in detail. That said, the work is not cold or mechanical but engrossingly vibrant. Each image is composed of thousands of thin, short strokes of black ink, which make for a delicate, even sensuous surface quality, despite the seemingly inexpressive nature of the medium (ballpoint pen).  None of the works look like a NASA photograph; inscribed by a human hand, they are imbued with a very personal quality of awe.”

Real Estate Text

In 2007 a new body of work evolved — one of seascapes, landscapes and coastal mapping, citing both familiar and imagined coastlines, ridge lines and horizons. Crotty’s drawing begins with direct, intimate exploration of the landscape and making on-site field notes in personal sketchbooks. The resulting observations are then translated onto globes, books or single drawings, some containing text, a hybrid of rant and prose, worked directly into the drawn landscape.

A Giovata Diatribe (Detail). 2011. 18″ diameter globe. Ink and Gouache on paper on fiberglass sphere.

The text sometimes refers to Crotty’s experience with the land, trees or rocks — other times it is found text from such sources as real estate ads or magazines, a commentary on his concern for the ever increasing degradation of the coastline.

Credits: Wikipedia / / / / / Google Images.

In the Shadow of Bear Creek Spire. 2007


‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.

8 thoughts on “The 100 #45 – Russell Crotty

  1. Interesting that science is driving this artist so strongly. For me the art side is a little weak, but the first image has some fascinating 2D work in it! Am I just having a bad day?


    1. I sincerely hope you are Not having a bad day Philippa – personally I like the introduction of text, especially in the landscapes. I have a strong feeling that the photos don’t show the intricacies of Crotty’s work …


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