Are the wings clipped on The Flying Trilobite?

Are the wings clipped on The Flying Trilobite? 

A couple of weeks ago, I made the jump to using Blogger's Dynamic Views here on The Flying Trilobite. 

After receiving a heartfelt complaint from a friend and colleague about the site re-design, I thought I'd ask:
  • Does it work aesthetically?  
  • For those familiar with it, was it better before with the simpler template? 
  • Is it crashing every time you try to load it? 
  • Are the individual posts functioning? 
  • Are they too hard to read (if you follow a link to a single post, the banner stays affixed in place and takes up half the screen - which doesn't happen if you click on one from the main page)?
Gadgets in the sidebar apparently will be coming back, so I'm not too concerned with those.

Would love any and all feedback. 

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

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Art Monday: Trilobitlepidoptology

click to enlarge. ©  Glendon Mellow

A sketch done a couple of years back for Trilobitlepidoptology.  A lot of art sits in sketchbooks for years before I can get around to it.  Having ideas is easy, time for finishing final pieces is precious. I *have* to get around to adding shadows.  And colour.

Original post here.

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

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Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators

It's been a happily busy month!

I attended the second meeting of the Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators (SONSI), held at the
Wings of Paradise Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge, Ontario earlier this month. I'm not linking to the SONSI website yet, because we haven't made one. I'm helping artist Jennifer Osborn create it.

After being greeted at the door by scientific illustrator-and-later-voted-SONSI-president Emily Damstra, my wife Michelle, our nephew and I had free rein to roam through the conservatory - before it was open to the public.

Michelle visiting a resident.

Our nephew and I sketching.

Later, while Michelle and the neph took amazing photos of birds, turtles, plants and more, I settled into a presentation by entomologists Dave Cheung and Morgan Jackson. They showed us various ways to take excellent photos of insects, techniques to aid in getting bett
er depth of field and lighting. Very useful for painting, and Dave's digital paintings were pretty awesome. You can see his work at DKB Digital Designs. Morgan's photos and blog are here, if you love insects, you can't miss this. Dave is also our VP.

Afterward, the SONSI group got together, we voted on a slight name change, voted for members, and discussed our goals. I'll be sure to post a link here to the website once it gets going.

And let me say - what a treat! Getting to meet so many talented and passionate people in such a venue was terrific. Thanks to Emily for setting up what promises to be a great group.

And hey, if you live in the Kitchener-to-Toronto corridor of southern Ontario and wish to join, just send an email!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Except these photos were mostly not by me, but by my family.

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Art Monday: loosening up

Painting is still a learning process, or as I refer to it, a struggle. It's rare that I produce a piece I am 100% okay with. Going back and forth on the amount of realism I want to inject into my work is a part of the struggle. The small oil sketch above is a light in the tunnel for me, or perhaps a point-change mutation with beneficial traits being expressed, if you prefer.

This piece, Callimorphia dominula, was created for a colleague as a Secret Santa gift. (The recipient is extremely talented, and though I don't often refer to folks at my day-job, keeping the two worlds separate, you can see Ash's paintings here.) Since her name is Ash, I painted leaves from an ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior), and a Scarlet Tiger Moth - - or is it one of the faerie-like Meliae?

The mutation for me was in the attempt to create a thickly-painted -one might say slathered- background, and a realistic foreground.

The background here on the left is obscured, partly because I put the still-very-wet painting onto my scanner, and it left shadows of the sticky paint when it scanned. What you're missing there is largely off-white, with a hint of blue-green.

In the coming months, I hope to get a number of paintings developed, and this little sketch feels like I've uncovered a small but vital technique that breaks a block I've had for a while.

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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.
Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.

Artwork Mondays: Art is Hard

Art is hard.

Last year I posted this:

The idea was a steampunkish device to aid the painter. I called it the Hyperferrule. Hooked up to the visual centre of the brain, it would enable me --uhhh, I mean the artist, heh-- to rapidly paint the image in their mind's eye. Swap out those mechanical finger-tip brushes, and the little arms could draw something using graphite and an eraser. Maybe a tortillon smudger would be in there too, to get some nice shadows going.

Lately, I keep thinking about this image. I'd love to do a self-portrait about it. Me, standing next to a canvas, one hand furiously painting, the other drawing. There'd need to be some stark shadows and studio light, an out-of-focus model nearby, perhaps human, perhaps fossil.

I keep thinking about it. And at the moment, that's all I can do.

This isn't intended to be a whiny, whinging complaint. I'm really striving for a lofty lament about the torturous and demanding muse so many artistic types suffer from. It's hard to tell the difference. If I was whining, I'd stamp my foot.

Creative blocks have never hit me. The more I sketch, or think about sketching, the more ideas start flowing. On my way home today, I stopped on the
Queen West sidewalk near Claremont, pulled out my Moleskine and had to sketch a full-blown image of a landscape while blocking foot traffic. I struggle a bit with landscapes, and this one excited me. Stay tuned for the surprise.

Art is hard. There's a steady flow of ideas and I strive to get some of them down at least a bit in pencil. Aim for something interesting and maybe if I'm on my game, someone finds it astounding.

I wish I had Degas' money. Idle rich, nothing to do all day but
paint vampiric-looking ballerinas and go to the track. Like many of the artists (and probably everyone) I don't have enough time. I have a full-time job, work with some great people and freelance on the side. The freelance is going well, I've got four projects currently on the go. They're a blast to do, people who really get me, I think.

But this Artwork Monday is all about the things unfinished, the ideas I haven't forgotten but I've left alone to wander and prowl about in my studio.

Remember this Dimetrodon-Sphinx?

I've played with it a bit digitally, to practice my digital work. I plan on getting a computer tablet later this year and I'd love to play with a couple of backgrounds. A mountain terrain, a street at night.

Over the summer I played with a piece I really enjoy, and in my head is filled with a soft riot of colour, Trilobitlepidoptology:
It needs some shadows, and colour.

Last year, I embarrassed myself a little bit trying to do a portrait of Richard Dawkins. I even emailed his website folks.
Then, I tried a different technique, and killed the drawing. It only exists as a digital file now. I can resurrect it, print it on canvas paper and paint over it. I meant it to be a diptych with Carl Sagan. I'd really love to get back to it, Richard Dawkins' writing has inspired so much of my work. A humble tribute, sidetracked for now.

There's more. A dress based on a fossil, sketches for a kids' book of aliens evolving, a trilobite graveyard...


Next week on Artwork Mondays: Art is Easy

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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.
Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.

Artwork Mondays: Trilobitlepidoptology

From the notes of the renowned pioneer in the field of trilobitlepidotology, Dame Francesca Pithclade-Jolly;

"Some of the coarser naturalists in the field say I have quite man-like hands, but to them I say bother and damnation! Could hands less delicate than mine have mounted such fine specimens?"

This drawing is a continuation of the sketch from a couple of weeks ago, before I left for a cottage. Right after completing this piece, we went to the stellar Blue Willow Butterflies & Blooms center near Sutton, Ontario. Now I've got some nifty new photos to work from if I continue reading the works of Dame Pithclade-Jolly on trilobitlepidoptology.

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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.

Artwork Mondays: Sketchy Sketches

A couple of pages from my sketchbook for this Artwork Monday.

I'll leave my commentary to a minimum this week, but please go nuts critiquing the rough work if you want. Just no one tell Carl Buell about the megatherium skull below. I'm worried he'll point and chuckle in a manly way.
The megatherium is a cast that was included in the Darwin: The Evolution Revolution show at the Royal Ontario Museum, finishing up August 4th. The contours of this skull were pretty unusual. I think the sketch has a decent sense of 3-dimensionality, but the anatomy may be a little off. Also pictured are chimp and quetzalcoatlus skulls. The R.O.M. has mounted a quetzalcoatlus skeleton that is awesome and terrifying. Makes me want to curl up with The World Beneath by James Gurney.

This is a sketch for a painting I may begin soon. I've got some nifty water-soluble pencil crayons that might suit this piece.

This seems like the perfect idea to doodle with while I'm away at the cottage in August.

I should have some news the first week of August as well. I'm busting with it. I'll also begin posting a little more regularly again this week beyond the Artwork Mondays.
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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.

Knowledge Pupates: how I left paganism for science

Part 1

With my birthday once again marching merrily toward me, I have been reflecting on how my mindset of memes has gotten me to where I am today as a skeptic in love with imaginative things. Knowledge pupates. It's a phrase I wrote on the bottom of the drawing to the left, when I gave this piece to a friend & co-worker. I've come a long way from my disorganised muddle of pagan ideas in my teen years. Over the next few weeks, I would like to indulge (it's my birfday!) in noting some of the mental roads I believe helped me travel to where I am now. I will continue to link from each part of the series on each post. Comments about other people's experiences are most welcome.

In my larval stage, (kids can be gross, it's an appropriate one eat a popsicle), I was raised mostly without organised religion. My father was raised under the United Church, and my mom's family was "high" Anglican. Our family heritage is mostly English-Canadian from my dad, and my mom's was a mixture of English, Irish, Jamaican & Panamanian, and both my parents were born & raised in Ontario, Canada. My mom became a single parent when I was 8 years old, and had always filled the house with books. My siblings & I had books on just about any topic in the house. Tons were about science, and many books, fiction or not, had excellent illustrations. I learned to read for pleasure at an early age. On one school project, I listed dinosaurs, Star Wars, the Muppets and dragons as my biggest influences.

We got a dog. I would take him for long walks, in any season, from hot summer to tall snow drifts and we usually went to a wooded park nearby. I'd sit under the creaking branches, and draw or read or think, while my dog enjoyed the air and the many things his olfactory system could sniff. Around the same time, when I was about 12, I began reading folklore & mythology, and began taking a "Saturday Morning Class" called When Knighthood was in Flower with an amazing teacher, who introduced himself as Salard of Eagle's Haven. Cool indeed.

Salard was a member of The Society for Creative Anachronism, and taught the class about the middle ages, and about sword-fighting. It was amazing, and coupled with my growing interest in celtic folklore, as well as teenage hormones beginning to run amok, I began to find belief in magic more & more appealing.

But for a society class, we had to do a project on "counter-culture" groups, and I focussed on modern witchcraft. I was disappointed with what I learned. Since most traditions had been oral, and since men did not write them down, much of modern witchcraft had been revived (or outright invented) by Gardener & Crowley. This was a bit of a blow. I wanted the real stuff. In my teenage arrogance, I assumed I could figure it out. (I was in a program for "gifted" students...we'd been taught to do research and critically think on just about everything, including pop music lyrics. Most teenagers would benefit from the teaching style in my opinion, but that would be a whole other post.) I kept looking for as many fairy tale books as old as I could find, and read everything voraciously. I looked for patterns, and saw significance in the number 3 as an element of change (ladders make a 3-way portal, I was convinced this would lead to change, not bad luck. I walked under a lot of ladders.) Most of the world's mythologies that I could find had the moon female and the sun male, except in ancient Japan, so I read what I could about the hero Raiko, and kept reading about Arthur & Cu Chulain and the Morrigan and her aspects.

I should have been paying more attention. The Society for Creative Anachronism was not about fantasy or the supernatural, it was about how people used to live. The classes Salard taught for the Board of Ed. were taught in a secular way, and the religious component was left out of it. (He's a fantastic blacksmith by the way...hit the link on his name).

Somewhere along the way, I decided I did not want to share a lot of these thoughts with others, even if they were people I could trust or assume to be like-minded. It was a private worship, taking place in the trees and the wind while spending time with my dog. I made up a few tiny rituals that never worked, and I did not repeat.

I had always been fidgety and liked to draw, and I found I liked to write. I worked on a book off & on for a few years of high school, and novel of vampires and magick that incorporated many of my ideas (it was called "Tears of Blood", and was full of high melodrama). A lot of the drawings & paintings were an impetus for the story. (At some point, I may be persuaded to post one.) The artwork of Alan Lee (below) was what first inspired me to develop my drawing and painting skills. Eventually I won an award in high school for the book, and I felt it had been a large part of my life.

And, one night in a flurry of creative outburst, I finished the thing. About another 60 pages, if I recall (it was about 300 hand-written scribble). It was cathartic. The book had seen me through major friendships, girlfriends, and my forming, pupating years as a teenager, and I had finished it. And although for a while I planned two more parts, they just weren't in me. It was an ending of one part of my life.

In Part Two of Knowledge Pupates: How a fantasy novel about vampires led me back to rationality! Parrots & Astrology! Eve & Richard Dawkins!