Lochlan Mellow

Dear Everyone-We-Know,

The evolutionary legacy of an upright posture,
a clever mind
opposable thumbs,
acute visual sense,
a talent for pattern-finding
and a love of metaphor
Has been passed down through
an exploded star,
a planet,
to chordates,
to mammals,
to apes,
to humans,
to Michelle and Glendon,
and finally, on January 20th 2014 at 9:20pm to Lochlan Charles Follett Mellow.


Lochlan Mellow has entered the universe's history at 7 lb 12 oz , to the
delight of his family and has all the potential in the world to be a
tool-user, a thinker, a metaphor-maker, an artist, a scientist, a poet, and most likely a source of surprise. 

He joins his excited, caring brother <a href="
http://glendonmellow.blogspot.ca/2010/12/calvin-mellow.html">Calvin</a>. Calvin has taught us that the growing mind of a baby is a series of mysteries unfolding and being solved. 

Thanks to everyone online and off, for their words of support and enthusiasm. Most of all, our deepest thanks to the nurses, doctors, specialists and students at Mount Sinai Hospital here in Toronto. Both of our sons arrived in the same delivery room (Go room 7!) to talented, kind, enthusiastic faces ready to greet him and show Michelle every courtesy. You all rock. 

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Regaining That Edge

The eternal debate. After the toddler is good and asleep, do I stay up late and work on contracts? Or get up extra early in the morning? 

Mug design by Glendon Mellow, commissioned by Scicurious

Back when I worked at the art store (before the kid) I would get up around 5a.m. and make art or blog. Then, I'd be thinking about what I had worked on all day and I'd feel good about it. But something happened after being a stay at home dad for almost a year. I've become a night person. An ineffective, exhausted, but can't-get-to-sleep night person. 

So I needed something stronger than coffee to help. Something to help me regain that edge.

That's right: two coffees. 

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

Print Shop

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

Snails of Spring

Calvin has been meeting some of the ants and snails in the neighbourhood.

Edit: Here's a fun tweet I received in response to the post!

Strong Marriage

Gay marriage in Canada has been around about as long as my marriage to Michelle. It has in no way been a detriment to the country. Here's hoping things change in the U.S. and the rest of the world faster than they have so far. 

When we were married, we had a Unitarian minister. I'm an atheist, and my wife's belief system is not up to me to say. It felt strange inviting friends who are part of the LGBT community to our wedding if it wasn't something they could take part in. Unitarian ministers at the time were administering unions to gay couples, so: if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for us. A small gesture (did our family and friends even know? I'm not sure), but we felt it was important. 

Married at Victoria College at the University of Toronto under stained glass depicting Kant(I think?), Newton, Ben Franklin and Columbus. Three wise men and a guy who can't steer a boat. 

Anyway the point of this trip down memory lane is this: our marriage is stronger when it is something all couples can do. Here's hoping for my American friends.
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop

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

A Big Bee

When my son was just over a year old, we'd argue about the flying trilobite tattoo on my arm.

"Can you say, 'tri-lo-bite'?"

"Bee," pointing at my arm.

"It looks like a bee, yes. But it's a trilobite."

"Try clapping out the syllables for him," Michelle, the educator, suggested.

"Okay, Calvin,"(clapping each syllable)"Tri-lo-bite," I enunciated.

Random clapping. "Bee."

Again, clapping each syllable. "Tri-lo-bite". 

An exasperated look for his father, the toddler touched my winged trilobite tattoo, looked me in the eye and said:

"A big bee."

Now he's two, and can say it just fine. After saying it clearly for the first time, holding the fossil above (minus the wings: I found the wings in the years once years ago and snapped the pic - birds had eaten the rest of the poor monarch).

After saying "Trilobite", he laughed, refused to give back the fossil, and a chase scene ensued. 

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

Print Shop

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

Creative Depression And How I Got Rid of It

When I die one day, my biggest creative regret will likely be all the artwork I didn't have a chance to finish. Headlines marketed at artists and illustrators like "How to Increase Your Creativity" and "Get Your Creative Juices Flowing" never make sense to me.

Ideas aren't the problem. Time to execute them to my satisfaction is. 

Not every idea makes it past the sketch phase. 

So it may seem strange when I say that looking back, I was in a creative depression for much of last year. I was almost locked-up, I could barely act. Everything seemed too difficult: opening the research files, choosing digital or paper sketching, creating process templates, setting up the easel, dealing with my dismantled studio - it was all too much.

I think I know why, now.

I quit my full-time, 10-year, well-paying job managing an art store the day after I found out my wife was pregnant back in 2010. One friend put it, that he, "nods approvingly at the madness of it".  The final few months of my wife's pregnancy had me working from home, getting a steady stream of small revenue but exciting science-art projects. When Calvin was born, it was great, all three of us together. 

I completed this commission, Tylosaurus Reef around the time of my son being born. 

It was the best time of my life (being a dad, being freelance, blogging for freakin' Scientific American is a dream come true) but barely being able to keep up financially was hurting us. Michelle and I have weathered tough times before - we've been married for 9 years - but it was just us. The weight of responsibility for my son to have what he needs was all-encompassing. The cafe job felt professionally like dues I've already paid as a younger man, but ya do what ya gotta do. 

When Michelle went back to teaching, this was the state of things. I worked those 4 part-time jobs while being a full-time stay-at-home dad. Being a freelancing dad was a process I never finished learning how to do.

I painted this small oil on my first day of full-time freelancing. "Freelance Leap". I never did figure out how to fly all the way to those freelancing fairgrounds in the distance. 

The depression really set in for me last fall after my son started daycare. It was the right time for him to go: he loved it almost immediately, running around, learning like an exuberant, friendly and hyper little sponge. 

The new expense of daycare and the empty house/studio brought it all home for me: 

  • With the publishing market being where it is, 
  • With scientific funding being so small, 
  • With science-art as a field barely crawling on the periphery of cultural awareness, 
  • With my history growing up with one parent struggling to keep my sisters and I going,
  • With my experience going from job-to-job in a steady stream since I was 14 years old, 
  • With my amazing wife and amazing son being here in my life, 

I realized something.

I am not cut out for full-time freelancing.

I sent out resumes to a very small number of studios around Toronto that do work I respect and might be good for my 
fine art/science/social media/management background, and you know what? One of 'em hired me, and it's fantastic. 

My energy is back, I'm excited to go to work (the team there is brilliant, welcoming and fun), and I'm excited to get up at 5 a.m. to blog or sketch again. And we have groceries. 

The fallout is, there are a few people who have commissioned me I owe apologies to for being later than I ever expected. Three of those projects are still in the works and I hope I make them kick-ass and worth the patience that's been given to me.

I lifted the creative depression by starting to become part of a team doing work I believe in, and by bringing my share into the household. Never underestimate the impact that 

  • supportive people
  • new influences and 
  • livable income 

can have on your creativity. 

Okay, so it's not all perfect. For example: my face. 

Art is no longer a grind, and in 2013, I think it will be an adventure again. 

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

Print Shop

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