Rip Read, the “Startist,” paints in total darkness, the wonders of the cosmos on ceilings of patrons all over the world. Read is returning to Idyllwild to recreate a ceiling damaged in a tree fall.
Photo courtesy Rip Read

His technique is shared by no others

What would it be like to be internationally known as a painter who paints in total darkness? Whose work is invisible during the day but only visible at night? Whose detailed depictions of the cosmos are unique one-of-a-kind creations, numbering over 1,200 projects found in 13 countries?

Fourteen years ago, “Startist” (star artist) Rip Read was contemplating a career change while living in Pine Cove. He had been an independent book seller in corporate sales, with a dependable territory, solid prospects and a six-figure paycheck. Then, while on vacation with his wife in Loreto, Baja, Mexico, his corporation cancelled his business.

Read, very much a self-starter, had always been fascinated with astronomy — with the stars, the nebulae and the galaxies. He noticed an ad for Starscape, which interested Read in the idea of creating the cosmos on the ceilings of patrons.

He researched materials and perfected techniques he notes are unique to him. His ceiling creations are totally invisible during the day, but when a room goes black, the ceiling becomes a glowing cosmos, in which stars twinkle and move, yes move. And, before long, after diligent experimentation, Read launched a new career. He became the Startist.

“This is a proprietary process — movement without projectors,” said Read. “No other human on the planet can do this. Over the years, I have made it my mission to study, research, experiment, learn and apply the highest degree of science and innovation to my materials, tools, techniques and processes. My work has been made up of equal parts science project and astronomical art. And I’ve enjoyed both.”

Read has pages of international endorsements from many clients — private homes, estates, private aircraft, yachts, hotels and casinos.

He is returning in mid-July to Idyllwild to redo a ceiling in a client’s home, a ceiling that was damaged when a tree fell onto the house. Because his work cannot be replicated by others, the home’s owner requested Read’s unique artistic intervention.

For more information about Read’s work, visit During his stay in Idyllwild, we will interview him and view his work.