This tilted map of the summer Milky Way suddenly filled the screen in front of me. After a few moments it disappeared, and was replaced by a drawing of a rag doll.
It was what is called a “screensaver”, though I believe that this system is no longer needed for protecting computer monitors against burn-in. It lingers to entertain us; to beguile us into lingering in idle contemplation. It no more saves screens than Daylight-Saving Time saves daylight.
You can set your screensaver so that it uses any images in a certain folder, and I had set it to use the folder – with, so far, 93 subfolders – in which I’ve been storing copies that I’m gradually making of my pictures. So, if I fall into reverie, these pictures start appearing, and succeeding each other, in random order, some of them surprising me because I had forgotten about them.
They aren’t all paintings or drawings: some are way-stations – fragments of things used in trying to build some picture. This one is one of 29 that I evidently made in various ways as steps toward my cover picture for the next Astronomical Calendar. I’ll delete them all.
Why the rotated piece of a map of the sky? Because I figured it would show what a pilgrim, walking westward along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, would see if he was out there an hour before dawn on Saint James’s Day, July 25.
I remember that I reversed this image’s colors, like so –
– then managed to select and remove the now pale brown Milky Way and most of the lines; and printed it on the largest piece of paper I could find, or on two pieces that I stuck together; then pricked holes through each, or many, of the stars (not easy to do that cleanly and proportionately to their sizes); then laid it on the stretched canvas on which I had painted a dark sky and a darker landscape; and dabbed white paint through the holes.
And this whole exercise was itself a false way-station, a stage toward finding the better way, as almost always happens. I discarded it and made the picture by wholly different procedures.
(As for reversing, as printers call it, or inverting, as Photoshop calls it, you probably know that it turns colors into their complementaries. I once exploited it for making a Christmas card.)