Get Your Hands Dirty To Do Important Work

Sowing Seeds & Fossils © Glendon Mellow

Get your hands dirty to do important work. 
Dive in, take chances, don't expect shortcuts. 

Be driven by dreams and sweat through labour. 

Like sowing seeds with fossils in the earth. 

Sometimes something astonishing will grow. 


Ammonite Flax Flower © Glendon Mellow

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Two-Headed Mutant Ammonite

© Glendon Mellow


I mentioned on Twitter I was drawing a two-headed mutant ammonite. 
Here's the discussion. 

















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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the Scientific American Blog Network!

Fossil Boy, Diatom Girl - repost

(This week I'm reposting some of the posts from the past 4 years I consider noteworthy.  Wednesday, "Inspiration and Drugs". Thursday, "Science Vocabulary = Better Art".  Today, here is a post from December 2009.)
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Our final project for my Drawing & Narrative class was more or less open. I decided to continue exploring ammonite fossils, hands, and some diatoms. 


For a long time, I've used diatoms along with images of my wife, Michelle. Diatoms are beautiful algae that create complicated geometric structures from silica, and look like beautiful glass ornaments. They help create oxygen, which is a nice thing for an asthmatic like me to associate with my wife in a metaphorical life-sustaining way. The fossils are kind of a proxy for me. Part of the suggested outline for the assignment included making a book, and images of family. 

Three of the most difficult things to draw are the face, hands, and feet. (Fore
shortening is a whole other problem.) I love drawing hands, so I looked at this as a challenge. I decided I would add some torn paper elements as well. While working on my rough sketches, our professor suggested including some elements with the Fibonacci sequence, and looking up artists Mario Merz. I've done some sketches using Fibonacci numbers before, when I was working onDan RhoadsMigrations blog banner. I tried to use it as a compositional device.

Almost in its entirety, (a snippet is lopped off from the edges), here are the drawings from the series Fossil Boy, Diatom Girl.


- - - - - - - - Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
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Nautilus Tattoo - hardcore ink

After posting Thomas Trae's Flying Trilobite tattoo here on the blog recently, I ended up in conversation on Twitter with Alchemystress of Tales of a Mad Scientist on the LabSpaces network.

Alchemystress was unfamiliar with my work to date, and after some enthusiastic emails, decided to get a tattoo based on this image, from one of my university studio projects!



Her tattoo artist did an incredible job of mimicking the pencil and giving it an old-drawing feel, as well as deftly expanding on the flowers I had included.


Check out the amazing ink below, after the jump:

















I can only imagine the delightful feeling of a tattoo right on the elbow. But Alchemystress is hardcore: check out these tattoos she already has! And there may be another - we're discussing a new custom tattoo. Thanks for admiring the artwork, Alchemystress!  Make sure to check out here blog, Tales of a Mad Scientist.

Okay so. Scicurious, Thomas Trae and now Alchemystress: We need leather biker jackets and matching Vespas and we will be a gang and we will be feared for we will bring the science.  



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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Above photos © Alchemystress

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Am I in the wrong business?  Should I start practicing on pumpkins?

Testing out the Sketchclub app

I first read about the Sketchclub app on the excellent blog fingerpainted.it

Like Brushes and Sketchbook Pro Mobile, it's a powerful little app, great for sketching on the go. Immediately though, I have to say I love the interface.  Selecting brushes and colours just zips along, and some of the brushes are really fun. You only get 2 layers, but you can use tools like Multiply or Overlay. 

My first sketch was of a trilobite and a face. 

©  Glendon Mellow 2011

Is the face me?  Not my nose, but my eyebrows and tired new-dad eyes. I like the little shaded blade. Surprisingly though, I don't think there's a tortillon or smudger for the pencil tool.  But it does simulate it by tracking turns and where you would smudge it with your hand.  Sorta. 

Here's a couple more of my first explorations of this nifty new app which I posted directly to Facebook - another neat feature. Can't wait for Twitter to be added.


eye sketch - Sketchclub - © Glendon Mellow 2011




Ammonite sketch - Sketchclub - © Glendon Mellow 2011


If I have a complaint, it's that there's no button I can find for starting a new sketch. If I pick an empty slot from the file page, it loads with my last worked-on drawing, which I then need to clear.  According to the review though, the developer has a background in the gaming industry, and is actively and constantly improving the app, so I expect good things. 

You can click on the iPod Touch label for more of my iPod sketches. 

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow

Scientific accuracy and art

When you type the word "trilobite" into Google's Blog Search, The Flying Trilobite is currently the first to come up.

But I stick wings on them.
Like this:







And this:
















And
all these.


Sometimes, other things happen.


Don't I have any sense of responsibility?  At this moment, I have the first blog to come up about trilobites, and what am I doing?  Cackling away while putting wings on aquatic arthropods in my oil paintings.  Irresponsible.  Think about the children! 


So what's it for?  

What does my tagline, "Art in Awe of Science" even mean if I am going to subvert the science?  The science of paleontology reveals through careful examination what life was like long ago, and how its remains have been preserved. Then I hop in, and start painting wings that didn't evolve for almost another 500 million years on the beasties. 

Should I take more care, and somehow display "Art in Awe of Science" with more reverence to the truth?  Is the communication of scientific ideals by artists and illustrators the pinnacle of what sci-art is all about?  

What is science-art for?  Scientific illustration, its fraternal twin has clear goals, and laudable ones.  Scientific illustrations communicate with rigor and accuracy ideas which will aid the scientist.  Sure, the scientific illustrator eliminates some of the oozy guckiness of the human body when revealed in diagrams, but this is to enhance and clarify the relevant internal landscape of the human body for the surgeon.  Laudable. 

Science-art is for something else.  Is it the communication of information?  

Roger Malina informs us that next year, NSF Informal Education Division is sponsoring an art-science workshop, entitled, "Art as a Way of Knowing", to be held at the San Francisco Exploratorium.  Is science-based art a "Way of Knowing"?  


What do you know when you look at say, a winged trilobite?  

You know, I could just say screw it:  everything is just representation, removed from reality, held at arm's length by our senses, and artwork is even further removed.   The scientific illustrator who carefully 3D renders a pristine skeleton is creating just as much an obfuscation of reality as it really really is as I am with my art-hack little flying trilobites. So there. 

Except for the scientific illustrator, teaching and clarity are goals. 

What are my goals? (art-hack)



According to the title of the NSF-sponsored workshop, apparently what I do may be a Way of Knowing.  But I feel that's putting the goal a little too strongly. You might say it's Making the Goal.  


Way of Knowing.  That's a tall order. 

I think a "Way of Knowing" is putting the (painterly, Impressionistic) cart before the (fully-3D-rendered, proper lighting and gamma) horse.  

I think the purpose, the path, the roadway of science-art is as a Way of Exploring.  



It's a way for the science-artist to explore forms:  to marry and synthesize separate ideas in to a new idea, because we're human, we're awesome and we can do that.

It's a way for the viewers of science-art to explore what they see, how they reconcile their knowledge and become intrigued and curious and oh my! who would have thought. They can explore how the dabs of mineral and plant oil reflect light and shapes and plug into the visual centers to show them something that isn't dabs of minerals and plant oil.

As a Way of Exploring, science-art is for scientists a way of facing a mirror of absurdities that realigns thinking on research, its a way of marrying the disparate to ponder how it would be possible. 


©  Glendon Mellow.  Oil painting of an ammonite-form on California Gold slate. 




- - - - - - - -

Original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under
Creative Commons Licence.

Portfolio

Blog
Print Shop

Art Monday: sketchy twitobite

My current Twitter background. Click to enlarge.

A montage incorporating sketches and drawings from the last few months.

The difference between a drawing and a sketch you ask? Drawings are considered to be more final, polished art. Sketches are the rougher, playful, workin'-it-out type of marks on paper.

- - - - - - - -
Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite
Copyright Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.


Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Art Monday: Fossil Boy, Diatom Girl

Our final project for my Drawing & Narrative class was more or less open. I decided to continue exploring ammonite fossils, hands, and some diatoms.

For a long time, I've used diatoms along with images of my wife, Michelle. Diatoms are beautiful algae that create complicated geometric structures from silica, and look like beautiful glass ornaments. They help create oxygen, which is a nice thing for an asthmatic like me to associate with my wife in a metaphorical life-sustaining way. The fossils are kind of a proxy for me. Part of the suggested outline for the assignment included making a book, and images of family.

Three of the most difficult things to draw are the face, hands, and feet. (Fore
shortening is a whole other problem.) I love drawing hands, so I looked at this as a challenge. I decided I would add some torn paper elements as well. While working on my rough sketches, our professor suggested including some elements with the Fibonacci sequence, and looking up artists Mario Merz. I've done some sketches using Fibonacci numbers before, when I was working on Dan Rhoads' Migrations blog banner. I tried to use it as a compositional device.

Almost in its entirety, (a snippet is lopped off from the edges), here are the drawings from the series Fossil Boy, Diatom Girl.


- - - - - - - -
Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***