Darwin on a pink tee!

In time for the festive Newtonmas to Darwin Day season, there's new items in The Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop! Personally, I'm giving some for Krismas.
The popular Darwin Took Steps image is now available in colour on American Apparel shirts. As before, a portion of the purchase of my Darwin-tees will go toward supporting The Beagle Project, so you wear a surreal image of the controversial biologist-adventurer with pride.

Darwin Took Steps
shirts are available in a wide range of colours, as well as
four styles of shirt. Just click the t-shirt button and take a look at the choices.
Sweat-shop free, and starting at $23.94 U.S.! RedBubble accepts Australian, U.K., American and Canadian currencies too.
This year I have also put together a calender, a first for me. If you're a fan of my artwork, or surreal scientific illustration, this is the best way to pick up a dozen prints of my work in one place. Here's a some shots of the calender, $22.99 U.S.:

Hmm. I'm kind of digging that white background. Maybe a re-design in the New Year? You can also visit the RedBubble-hosted store and click through to see every month.

Order soon to guarantee it in for Christmas and New Year's!

I've also added cards, prints and canvas-reproductions of my popular Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle in each configuration!

With such a dizzying array of holidays coming up, give the gift of Flying Trilobite.

(Product shots from RedBubble! Thanks RedBubble, you're super-keen!)

- -
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.

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle

"...Evolution makes the strong prediction that if a single fossil turned up in the wrong geological stratum, the theory would be blown out of the water.
"When challenged by a zealous Popperian to say how evolution could ever be falsified, J.B.S. Haldane famously growled: 'Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.'
"No such anachronistic fossils have ever been authentically found..." -Richard Dawkins

-p127-128, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 2006.
Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN-13: 978-0-618-68000-9.

- - - - -
Finally dry, a new scan of my Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle. Oil paint on 9 pieces of shale, 2008. Prints now available.

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle (configuration A): False Rabbit
available as greeting cards, mounted print, matted print and canvas print. Click here.

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle (configuration B): True Trilobites
available as greeting cards, mounted print, matted print and canvas print. Click here.
- -

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: Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle

Configuration 1: False Precambrian Rabbit

Configuration 2: True Precambrian Trilobites

*You can see a bit more about this painting, and some comments at the last edition of The Boneyard, hosted here by yours truly. The title and concept refer to a quote by biologist J.B.S. Haldane, who, when asked what it would take to falsify the fossil record of evolution by natural selection, replied, "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian,".

Colours I used:
Naples Yellow - I actually tried not to use it. It's my favorite, I put it on everything. Can't help myself.
Zinc + Titanium White
Titanium White
Payne's Grey
Olive Green
Oxide Black
- whoever claimed mixing your own black looks the most real (probably one of the Impressionists) obviously never tried a really good black pigment. It's not true you can mix every colour from the primaries when it comes to painting. The pigments all have their own chemical composition and chromatic values, that interact when mixed in different ways.
Quinacradone Orange
Fragonard Red Brown
Fragonard Earth Yellow
- a sparkly colour I like using for the trilobite's eyes, and sometimes as a fringe around their bodies, the way Richard Fortey described pyrite from microbes outlining their soft body parts and legs in Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution. A most excellent book, thoroughly engaging.
Monochrome Tint Warm
Raw Umber

I mainly used linseed oil, with a smattering of walnut oil in some of the rabbit's whites. Linseed oil is a strong, flexible oil with a tendency to yellow a bit as it ages. Walnut is clear, not likely to turn yellow, and brittle and prone to cracking, especially after about 10 years on a canvas that bounces and bends. Since these pieces are on shale, I assume it will hold them up alright, and not bounce like it would on a stretched canvas.

The 9 pieces of shale are originally coasters for drinks, complete with felt on the bottom, which should keep them from shattering in ways to make me weep. It's a good enough idea I may use it on my other paintings on shale. I coated the shale with clear acrylic gesso to keep the oils from sinking into the stone. If oils do sink into a painting, whatever the surface, it makes it look splotchy, with some areas of glossy oil, and matte sunken areas. Retouching varnish should get the sunken oil back to bright glossiness.

For brushes, I used a variety of tiny soft synthetics, mostly with golden taklon bristles. The Shale can be a little rough on the brushes, so nothing too expensive. I'm falling in love with my Micron filbert brush.

For solvent, I used very little in the painting itself. I tend to use Turpenoid Natural, a non-toxic alternative to turpentine and odorless solvents. The problems with traditional solvents are legion. They tend to sit in your fatty tissues causing cancer for one thing. It also has a mild pine odor, not unpleasant. Breathing typical hydrocarbon-based odorless solvents is still bad for you.

Usually, when I tell people I paint in oil, they say, "Oh, I tried it but the oil fumes gave me headaches." It's not the oil, it's the solvents. Oil paint is literally a vegetable-derived oil mixed with some colourful pigment-particles. The pigments don't release toxins into the air, although with a few you need a proper mask if you are airbrushing. Breathing in the oil is the equivalent of breathing in the olive oil & balsamic vinegar you dip your bread in. Nothing to get worked up about. Unless you accidentally eat a jumbo chili flake.

I'm proud of this piece. Excuse me, I need to get some soy milk to wash the burning chili sensation out of my skull.

- -
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.

The Boneyard XXI - Art Class

Welcome to the 21st edition of The Boneyard, here today at The Flying Trilobite! Today we will be looking at scientific illustration, cartoons, and paleo-related concept art.

The Field Trip

Has everyone got their willow-charcoal for sketches? Craig, I assume your laptop has batteries? Today we will begin our paleo-art lesson by venturing into the field. This is, after all, where we receive our inspiration. Make sure to wear sunscreen.

You cannot paint before you understand how to draw, and you cannot run before you can walk. Greg Laden tells us about a recently discovered Arabian dinosaur trackway. Make sure to follow the contours of the footprints with your eyes, dragging your charcoal lightly across the paper.

Trackways can teach more than contours. For those of you studying scientific illustration, remember not to let your eyes trick you into seeing what is not there. Brian at Laelaps has a cautionary tale about seeing evidence for giants instead of fossil sloth tracks. Giantologists reading this, please pursue the link immediately. To see a rendition of a species possibly related to the track-maker, be sure to have a look at master paleo-artist Carl Buell's Paramylodon.

Does everyone remember their elementary school readings from CRAM Science? Good.

Let the science teach you to be creative. Ah, excellent work, Microecos. The recent paper on azhdarchid pterosaurs by Witten & Naish has sparked a comparison from Microecos from pterosaur to current technology.

Sometimes it can be important to understand the scale of creatures from the prehistoric past. This life-sized statue of a stegosaurus - Jacqueline! Get down from there!

Now before we begin presentations, use your #2 HB pencils, and have your say at DinoBase's own David Hone's blog, and fill out this survey about "the state of palaeontology today". Introduction here, issues here, introduction to the survey here, and answers appearing here.

The Presentation
(In many cases, you may click on the artwork on the posts below to see the paleoart in a larger size.)

Let's begin the presentations at the end. Marek Eby of eTrilobite has captured the melancholy of the K-T event. Further back in time, the irascible Walcott is worried in Walcott's Quarry: The End is Nigh! And support paleo-art dinosaur news by visiting the eTrilobite store, and pick-up some happenin' threads.

At Bond's Blog, we have a lucid step-by-step presentation by Peter Bond on rendering a megalosaur, the final version seen at right. Thanks to Peter for allowing me to use the image! The image was created, along with a sauropod and medium theropod for Traumador the Tyrannosaur's post on dinosaurs of New Zealand.

The terror of the ancient seas swoops through Prehistoric Insanity. Craig Dylke struts his digital stuff in the latest peek of his Art of the Unspecified Time Interval. A realistic digital anomalocaris is difficult to pull off, but Craig took it many steps further and has placed it in its natural habitat, with some lovely filters to give it that undersea sense of depth. And be sure to check out Craig's spectacular trilobites, rendered with the scrapes and scratches their little carapaces must have had in life. See them here, here, and here.

Triloblog features the works of Laura Passow using Viking artistic techniques to create amazing specimens of the prolific vanguard of evolution by natural selection. The Bug Factory contains many past posts of the artist's impressive sculptures.

What is it about stegosaurs and car jokes? Charley Parker's Dinosaur Cartoons are not to be missed, complete with lessons!

Jacqueline Rae's Indohyus , published in Nature, appears furtive at the edge of the shore. Be sure to check out the rest of this versatile scientific illustrator's gallery.

N. Tamura's latest, a ferocious Paraphysornis is painted in predatory detail.

Zach of When Pigs Fly Returns continues to illustrate Mesozoic marine predators with an economy of line, making clear the bone structure of askeptosaurus and others from the fossil matrix.

Sometimes, I find paleoart so beautiful, I can't pick a favourite. Scientific Illustrator Emily Damstra paints vivid illustrations of the wonders of the natural world. It was tough to pick one -perhaps this smoothly-blended tornoceras ammonoid?-, so go visit her whole invertebrate gallery.

The Boneyard's groundskeeper Brian featured this interview with scientific illustrator Michael Skrepnick. In addition to providing the banner at Laelaps, Michael's artwork has recently been flung far and wide for his evocative image of the newly discovered "frogamander", gerobatrachus, a transitional fossil between modern frogs and salamanders. However, Lim at Fresh Brainz reckons we've seen another creature related to this ancestral-amphibian.

The Critique
I have a final piece to submit for your criticisms, witticisms and tomatoes.

The past while here at The Flying Trilobite, I've been posting a work-in-progress of a puzzle. The painting is in oil on shale. It is inspired by biologist John Burden Sanderson Haldane's infamous quote, when pressed by a creationist about what Haldane thought could falsify the fossil record. Haldane's reply; "Fossil rabbits in the precambrian."

The piece is finished. Below are the two possible configurations for the 9-piece shale puzzle I have entitled, Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle. Apologies for the weird angle: with the oils still wet it was difficult to photo without picking up a lot of glare.

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle: False Rabbit Configuration

Haldane's Precambrian Puzzle: True Trilobite Configuration

Comments? Have I made it too ambiguous as to which one is true and which false?
- -
A thank-you to the suggestions and posts and brilliant work of the scientists who discover all the wondrous things of the past, and the artists who imbue them with wonder. If you're a palaeontologist working on the next big or feathered thing, perhaps you will consider one of the stellar artists above to illustrate a future paper.

I hope you've enjoyed this artsy edition of The Boneyard.

-Glendon Mellow
- -
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.

Tiny Flying Trilobite Tidbits

Tidbit: Tomorrow The Boneyard XXI comes to The Flying Trilobite! It's not too late to submit your paleo-related articles and artwork! I'll be showing some nifty links to a lot of talented artists, as well as links to the science that inspires paleo-art in the first place! Simply email me to alert me to your article or art!

Tidbit: Inspired by late biologist J.B.S. Haldane, my new oil painting-puzzle on shale, PreCambrian Rabbit/Trilobites will be unveiled in tomorrow's edition of The Boneyard! You can see a bit about it in a couple of the past Artwork Mondays.

Tidbit: My new Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil tattoo is up at Carl Zimmer's Science Tattoo Emporium!

- -
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: Untimely Rabbit

For this Artwork Monday, I thought I would start off in a different direction on an idea I've had on the back burner for a while. (Back burner? Who says that? Perhaps a more modern saying should be coined. Like, "I've had this marinating for a while," or, "I've had this painting waiting to be rolled in seaweed for a while." Ahem.)

I like to paint some of my Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossils on pieces of shale, as seen in my Page 3.14 SEED interview last year (shameless self-aggrandizement!). This painting will be a little different, and I hope lots of fun for the viewer, especially those who see it in person. (Sorry bloggy folks!)

When I was reading the excellent, brilliant, those-who-find-flaws-or-use-the-word-militant-obviously-didn't-read-it, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, for the first time, I was struck by a quote of the late biologist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane. When confronted by a creationist, asking what it would take to falsify Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, Haldane replied, "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian".

Okay, this photo might be a little hard to make out, but here's a sketch of a hare's skeleton on nine pieces of paper. I may put in an "imprint" to suggest long ears on the final paper. You see, I have these 9 beautiful shale drink coasters from Pier 1 Imports that will make a terrific shale puzzle.

"What!?" you may gasp, "has that Glendon-trilo-mellow-yellow guy lost his rigorous, scientific outlook?" Or you may say, "who? oh the Darwin-staircase guy, yeah what?"

No, silly. The creationist-configuration will prove to be false.

It's a puzzle. And if I piece it together this way...
...you can see there are numerous green trilobites sketched in. The shale pieces will have two configurations, the "false-rabbit" and the 'true-trilobite". I may emphasize the point by putting in some simple math that only works correctly the one way. Or I could paint the rabbit bright pink, but that may upset some people, since it is a blessed colour.

This piece I will likely dive right in and begin painting. I've used a clear, acrylic-based gesso to prime the shale pieces, and I'll start with the rascally rabbit.

While you're waiting for me to pointen my brushes, check out Heather Ward's birdies, drop by the Daily Mammal, or see Bond's scintillating Tsintaosaurus.
- -
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.
Book in the background of top photo is an excellent reference, Skeletons by Barbara Taylor, Firefly Books. The book in the bottom photo is the indispensable Fossils by C. Walker & D. Ward, Dorling Kindersly Books.