Holiday ideas from Flying Trilobite

This is a whole new collection of bio-, atheistic and paleo-artwork I've put together as a calendar for 2010. I'm really proud of this one, and it has a few image variants not previously available. I've included a peek at a few images below, and you can click through the entire calendar at my RedBubble reproduction gallery.


JulyBack Cover

I loved the print quality of the 2009 calendar by RedBubble. They accept payment in many currencies, Canadian, U.S., Australian, U.K., and Euros. If you missed it, you can also purchase last year's calendar, with the dates revised for 2010!

It's a great a relatively inexpensive way to own a lot of Flying Trilobite artwork. Impress and weird out your friends, co-workers and labmates.

Both calendar collections can easily be found here.

And I've added a new tee! This t-shirt was suggested by one of my blog readers, Alison from the land of Aus. It features my popular Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle. Here's a close-up of the t-shirt graphic: It's available in 4 styles of sweatshop-free shirt, and in multiple colours.

And there is still time to order the popular Tra-la-la-la-lobite cards with delivery before Christmas day!
(Hmm. Next year perhaps ornaments?)

Happy Holidays and Merry Krismas!

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

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

Tripping over art while wandering online

Some things that caught my eye despite the busy-ness and the drawing and the screaming and crying and mm-hey.

-The Sauropod Gallery over at Art Evolved launched last week, and as expected those cuddly lumbering giants brought out the best in some of today's hottest young paleo-artists. The diversity of animals in this group of dinosaurs is matched by the many many styles.

-Macabre artist Chris Zenga of The Day After has reached his 100th post and launched a new series of artwork based on the Day of the Dead festival. This stuff is pretty amazing, and lies somewhere between tattoo linework and cartoon art.

-Artist extraordinaire Leslie Hawes decided a while back to do one drawing every day for a month. Well, she's just finished month two! Holy monkey. Beautiful little moments of life.

-Nature artist Heather Ward has added a new calendar of her jaw-dropping renderings from the animal kingdom. My favourite is whenever she draws an ape, and the massive coral reef is not to be missed!

-Renaissance Oaf and his new series examining art and its failings, as well as his own direction. Toward Pretensionism is essential reading.

-One of my favourite slideshows about the internet. Most marketers don't seem to understand any of this. Shown at A Blog Around the Clock.

-An artist stands up for his principles. The story of Bill Viola turning down the Pope at ArtInfo.

-My fellow Torontonians will love the sketches by recent artist-transplant Morena P at I pocci della Morry.

-I discovered this blogger after they discovered me following the Blog of Note excitement over the past couple of weeks. Check out
Idegenszövet blog (it's in Hungarian) for all sorts of amazing science-art.

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

Synapsid invasion almost here!

The second ART Evolved paleo-art gallery will launch May 1st! I'll have a piece in it, and one of the site coordinators, Craig Dylke of Traumador fame, has blown me away with his piece. Wait'll you see it.

The Permian Synapsid gallery has a lead-in here. The Permian is a fascinating period, pre-dinosaur, that ended with the most devastating mass extinction in Earth's history. The synapsids were a group of animals defined by a single hole in the skull behind the ear.

*sigh* I tried to do a" straight" scientific illustration but an idea struck me. You'll have to check it out come May 1st.

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

Look over there!

-->Artist-writer Sean Craven of Renaissance Oaf has been liveblogging the stages of a psittacosaurus the last couple of days, and I love it. Especially the neck. Sean wanted to give it a try after my Darwin Day attempt, commenting,

"Exhaustion, caffeine intoxication, and frustration swirling into a potent cocktail of self-torture... I'm gonna have to try this myself. It looks like a blast."

Sean is bold experimenter and tinkerer in his art. It's interesting for me to watch someone whose process is so different from my own.

-->Prehistoric Insanity Productions has the latest teaser about the ArtEvolved launch. Is it spoiling the fun to say I'm a part of it? Found out March 1st!

-->The Eloquent Atheist is back! After a hiatus of several months, the premi
ere online space for positive atheist literature (and the occasional artwork) is back and looking for submissions. Polish off that prose, point those brushes and submit to this fine online magazine.

-->Ooo, we're being teased by teddies! After wowing us with his Darwin-zombie-teddy bear (no really!), artist Chris Zenga at The Day After hints at the second wave of Living Tedd classic Hollywood monsters. 1st wave here.

-->Faery art! More mysterious than the mask she wears, who is this attending Mardi Gras? See Leslie's Blog for the potential of pencil crayon realized. Eric Orchard shifts gears from some recent comic superheroes to some insouciant fairy art.

-->Get your Twitter thumbs ready! Science journalist David Bradley of ScienceBase is compiling a huge list of science-blog-Twitterers! Fun! Don't forget, you can follow my tweets here in my sidebar, on my Facebook status or find me at: .

-->Would you like to hear me discuss my artwork in my own voice? Check out the Secular Nation Podcast #33 from a few weeks back regarding the art I provided to their Darwin Day magazine cover.

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

Flying Trilobite Gallery
### Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop #
2009 Calendar available for a limited time

Making of The Meming of Life blog banner

The big news! A new blog banner! Click to enlarge!
Dale McGowan, editor and author of the book
Parenting Beyond Belief, and author of the blog The Meming of Life contacted me earlier this summer about creating a new blog banner. After the coffee table forcibly stopped me from running in little circles around the living room, I pulled out my sketchbook and .3mm pencil and got started.

With Dale's exuberant permission, here's a look at my process, and how the banner above for
The Meming of Life developed.

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Step 1: Getting started
When I'm working on a blog banner, it's important to catch the essence of the author and the topics they post. We all see it, blogs are intensely personal, even if only a facet or two of the author's whole personality is represented. In this case, Dale is a multi-faceted and energetic blogger and as a fan, his posts leave me exploring the issues he raises. This needed to be more than a title and a couple of icons. It needed to leave people exploring.

I am also an artist who believes in research. Making things up out of thin air is always less surprising than reality. The best art is imagination coupled with reality and blurring the line between the two.

Step 2: Wait- colour already?
The first idea I had involved a beach ball. I find The Meming of Life to be a lot of fun, and I wanted to get that mood. I did a quick study, which I later developed a bit more into this oil sketch.
It's rare for me to break out full colour at this point in the process, but I had this yellow-saturated image very clear in my mind. I'm a strong believer in starting with an excellent drawing in advance. I described this as "parenting is a serious thing that can be studied and learned and whoops there's a beach ball".

Step 3: Footprint Family
From the start, Dale had ideas. He emailed me this photo of one of his daughters at the beach (
next to the header "Love"). The mood and colours got me thinking. I liked the beach as well.

Good parenting must go back a lot further than any of the organised religions we see today. I began thinking about our ancestors in prehistory, and different ways parenting may have expressed itself. I remembered reading The Ergast's Tale in Richard Dawkins'
The Ancestor's Tale, and again I looked up the story of the Laetoli footprints. These are 3.7 million year old footprints in Tanzania, that appear to be of a parent and child (and possibly from the gait, the adult was carrying a baby as well) that were fleeing the ash from a volcano.

With the photo of Dale's daughter at the beach and the Laetoli footprints in mind, I played with another quick colour study:
The concept here was to have the modern girl pointing at the footprints on the beach which trail into a darkness of deep time, leading to the prehistoric family. The darkness would contain the blog title.

Step 4: Lascaux caves
Playing with the good-parenting-is-older-than-religion concept, I also thought about the 16,000 year old cave paintings at
Lascaux. What if some kid just imitated the serious representation of the auroch-bull drawn on the wall?
I tried to go for that stage in most childrens' drawing when there is no differentiation between the head and body.

After a few days, Dale had a fantastic idea: combine the cave with the footprints.

Step 5: Plato's Cave and spiral illusions
Dale thought this would bring in another allusion, that of the parent and child leaving
Plato's cave and the world of illusion behind, a perfect image for a secular humanist site.

At this point, I almost over-complicated things. I started getting hung up on trying to use the
Fibonacci sequence spiral as a compositional guide. After a few days of shoehorning elements of the image together, I had to jettison the idea. Instead, I made this quick sketch:

The idea was to have a wall of rock in the center separating the cave painting on the left from the beach scene on the right. A narrow, diagonal shaft of light would draw the eye from the left to the right, passing through the title.

Refined the drawing, scanned it, tweaked the values to the warm side, and printed on canvas paper. Turned on some electro-beats and Hans Zimmer's Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack and began oil painting. I love those Micron series brushes! The filbert in particular was helpful. Step 6: Fueled by coffee
It is always a good idea to view your work from a distance as an artist. Use Photoshop or a mirror to flip the left-right of the image, or reverse the values. Another trick is to simply leave the painting, and come back to it after being heavily distracted. You will spot the problems quickly when you come back to it.

Fueled by coffee, I wanted to simplify. Get rid of the 'floor' of the cave, enlarge the auroch (the bull) add some texture to the flat rock, and maybe some algae as well. I sat down and blitzed this oil painting.
Using a hint of mauve in the payne's grey for the shoreline, I was happy with subtle colour of the sand. I emailed progress on both images to Dale: the new one was on the right track.

Step 7: The final 20%
Recently, I read in
ImagineFX artist Francis Tsai say that the final 5% of a piece takes 50% of the time. That may be true. In this case the final 20% of the piece involved playing with different elements like puzzle pieces to get the image just right to both myself and Dale.

I scanned some fossil-rich rocks I found on a shoreline and added them as a texture on the painting using the clone tool. I also tried a technique for making water-drop letters, seen here on top of this splendid bivalve.
It's an interesting technique, as it allows real distortion of the image below. If I move the words around with the move tool over top of say, bright green, the green will shine through.

This ultimately ended up being a discarded concept. The word "Meming" is unusual enough that it really needs to be as legible as possible.

Here's an almost complete image containing a number of differences with the final above: can you spot them all?

So, the child's drawing: the purple one is re-drawn from one my nephew did while looking at a photo reference of Lascaux: I repainted it in purple and distorted the shape to match the wall contours. But Dale loves this little guy. He needed to come back!

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There you have it. I'm pretty pleased with the final result: I had no idea where Dale and I would end up when he first contacted me. Please enjoy
The Meming of Life, and don't forget to pick up Parenting Beyond Belief, and Mr. McGowan's new book, Raising Freethinkers, coming soon!

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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. I am available for freelance illustration. Please visit my blog or gallery or shop to have a look.