A few years ago, I became very excited by a possible format for a huge series of paintings.
The canvas was 12"x24", small-ish on the wall, but a comfortable size to depict some detail. My intention was to do a series of images blending human elements with unusual organisms that catch my fancy. I referred to it as a "Primer Series" to inform viewers about the subject matter I tend to paint.
The composition was straightforward. Over the years, I have found that we as human beings tend to enjoy and be intrigued by images of other human bodies. Not too surprising. So I put a human figure or at least partially human figure in the center to entice the eye, and draw viewers in. Around the human, I would place the fossil or organism, and as you can see in Life As a Trilobite, I blended the trilobite with the man.
Above and below the figure, I placed the thematic organism in series as an almost decorative element, possibly with labels. This idea was inspired in part I think, by my love of Alphonse Mucha's work, which you can see influenced Life With Diatoms quite a bit. Then, I planned on having a small card with the work's title and information about why the organism grouped with the human figure mattered so much. The Primer Series would then provide an introduction into the rest of my work. One of the main reasons behind using this format was that I found that many of my peers in university, my professors and my close friends did not necessarily share my interest in biology and paleontology. They enjoyed my paintings, but greater insight was a little closed off.
I had an art show with another excellent artist and close friend as my university days waned. When I exhibited Symbiosis (left, click in gallery to enlarge), a fellow coffee shop employee who was also a zoology major, asked me, "okay, if this means nothing to you, never mind, but in that painting with the green guy, is that a tardigrade?".
Replying that it was, she smiled and said, "I could tell because of those little hooked feet." It was an inspiration. Most people thought the painting looked cool, a little dark and creepy, and here was someone who understood the purple blobby thing hovering above the plinth.
So the plan was to draw in non-bio-paleo folks into the paintings with intriguing paintings of people, and then open them up to the wealth of creatures I find so fascinating, perhaps with an explanatory card off to the side.
When I took this show on the blogosphere almost two years ago, the beauty became that so many people who were also fascinated with these organisms find me.
There were others planned in the series. An ammonite, shells like ram's horns on his head. A Primer Series version of Symbiosis with the tardigrade looking all cute and water bear-ish.
Perhaps one day I'll begin explaining myself again.
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