"Machinery of Light" is a marvelous example of strong formalism tied to realistic execution. While the subject matter of this painting is something seen often in sci-fi imagery, the artist executes it in a way that pushes it far beyond cliché.
The most striking feature of this illustration is the masterful use of the diagonal to create movement and tension. The vector of the launching spacecrafts is about to puncture the opposing diagonal of the vapor streams in the sky. The sloped ledge on which the foreground figures stand serves to complete the compositional "Z" shape of the clouds and ships, allowing for the eye to make its way through the picture plane over and over. The pointed nose of the spacecraft is echoed ingeniously in the crags in the middle-ground and the leaning mountains in the background. And finally, the dark values in the foreground convey a feeling of heaviness that adds to the "lifting off" sensation of the light valued ships. All in all, this is a wonderfully executed painting.
This is pretty much mind sex. Whereas it is obvious that it's a much-seen Sci-fi concept this is so beautifully rendered that your mind wants to believe it's real. This is digital imagery to it's finest, even looking at it up close, while you can tell it's not a photograph, the illusion of realism in this is so well emphasized, that it's breathtaking. The mountains, jutting out at the angle that hints on a fault in the landmass is very reminiscent of Planet Vulcan, from Star Trek, (see [link]) and these formations are always pleasant to me. Their incorporation into this piece makes me feel like I've been to the site where this launch is happening.