Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Symbiosis



Symbiosis contains many of my favourite themes. The candles have DNA wicks, as a symbol I often use of mortality. The tardigrade, or "water-bear" is a lowly (read: small) organism we share puddles of water with. I was especially pleased when at a university exhibit, a zoologist friend recognised I painted a tardigrade right off. The distended belly (full of bacteria, of course) and the atmosphere suggests ( I intended) one of shared mortality.

I have a deep appreciation for the genius painters of the Renaissance. My feelings are best summed up in this paragraph of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion:

"If history had worked out differently, and Michaelangelo had been commissioned to paint a ceiling for a giant Museum of Science, mightn't he have produced something at least as inspirational as the Sistine Chapel? How sad that we shall never hear Beethoven's Mesozoic Symphony, or Mozart's opera The Expanding Universe....what if....Shakespeare had been obliged to work to commissions from the Church? We'd surely have lost Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth."

(from
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, p 86-87, Houghton Mifflen Co. 2006. Reprinted without permission but with the deepest respect. )

The world as revealed by the scientific method contains so many wonders. There is so little time to paint. To the linseed oil!

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Disease


This piece was done in oil on canvasette paper. It's called Disease and I originally did this as a cd cover. (Unfortunetly it never saw publication, but them's the breaks.)

It's about memes that prey on the mind, for good or ill.

Pharyngula Vs the Appeasers

PZ Myers, the biologist who writes the Pharyngula Blog had an excellent reponse to a recent Washington Post article suggesting we muzzle scientists who critique religion.

Nisbet & Mooney, the authours at the Washington Post say that scientists are boring and sometimes offensive, and they would do better "selling" the science based on use!

Here comes the stellar PZ Myers to sharply point out where their arguments went wrong: Check it out here.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

My Life With Trilobites




So I did it. I finally decided to register as a Bright.

I was up late and looking at www.the-brights.net and the different comments by people who joined, and I decided I would too. I was happily surprised to see an entire section for people who join somewhat reluctantly.

The idea of declaring yourself as a Bright is that you are saying you believe in a natural (not supernatural) worldview. That's it. That's all I'm saying.

All the other possible baggage (being
a skeptic, atheist, agnostic, Darwinist etc.) fits under the umbrella term "A Bright".
Some people think the term "I'm a Bright" sounds arrogant. I see their point. But come on, saying "I'm a Bright" is not really the same as declaring "I'm a Super-Genius". That would be arrogant.

I guess I wanted to register as a Bright also to be for something, rather than announcing myself as excluding something. Saying "I'm an atheist" is kind of loaded, like declaring verbal war on another person's beliefs, because it's all about the disagreement. Being a Skeptic is kind of the same thing, because of the cynical overtones most people associate with it, (despite Skeptic magazine's definition as an embodiment of the scientific method). And saying I'm a neo-Darwinist doesn't help when discussing gluons or pulsars.

So I'm a Bright. Hopefully it's a bit more of a conversation starter at dinner parties than gluons and pulsars.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Fossil Hunters at Pigeon Lake



While out at our good friends' cottage on Pigeon Lake, Ontario, my five-year old nephew and I went for a walk. These days he's always picking up rocks. Since there is a lot of shale on the beach there, I suggested we look for fossils.
A few minutes later, and bingo! My nephew has his first fossil. Our hosts were gracious enough to let us keep it.
It appears to be a shell, and it looks similar to a cockle, perhaps like a small specimen of Acrosterigma? (Thank you, Dorling Kindersley handbooks!) Trying to identify it together at home was half the fun.

Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil

This image was created for my friend Rudi's birthday this year. It is oil painted onto a slab of shale. My wife found the shale discarded from a roof in the Annex area here in Toronto.
The trilobite is modelled after Balcoracania, and once again I used the extra large pleura halfway down the body to create wings. This time, I have modelled them after bat wings instead of insect. The neat thing about this piece of shale is that it already had a natural hole descending through the slab, making it perfect for wall-hanging.
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