Starry Night, 2013, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 6"x6"
On my trip last month, the ship was dark for three nights off the coast of Nigeria because of the threat of pirates. Dinner was by candlelight, and all the curtains were kept closed after 6 p.m. Large barrel-type spotlights were mounted on bow and stern, kept dark, but ready to illuminate danger if needed. Salt water was sprayed continual down the sides of the ship to keep them too slippery for boarding. We were instructed to go into the corridor and lie on the floor if we heard the pirate alarm, because the captain might take evasive action with the ship, which would have the potential to toss the passengers around.
At some point in the night I woke up and went out onto the balcony in the dark to check for pirates. None, thank goodness, but to my amazement and delight, the sky was filled with an absolutely magnificent Van Gogh Starry Night. The stars were enormous and filled the dark blue sky from horizon to zenith. They were softened and haloed, and seemed to be spinning slowly. The sound of the waves under the ship added to the magic.
NO, I had not been drinking--not more than my usual one glass of wine at dinner, anyway! I had always thought that Van Gogh had made up or exaggerated the Starry Night in his paintings, or was myopic, or some other rational explanation, so was very surprised and most delighted to see such a sight for myself.
The night sky at sea far from land is full of surprise. Another night I saw a night rainbow--yes, a night rainbow, between the clouds in beautiful soft greys with bits of color. That's for another painting!