Wednesday, 25 February 2009

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: http://twitter.com/flyingtrilobite .

-->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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Monday, 23 February 2009

Art Monday: inspiration interruption

Inspiration can strike at unlikely times. Usually, once I feel bogged down and frustrated while waiting for the oil layers to become tacky and the details to swim up and wow my eye, I am struck by competing compositions that fight my attention.

This time I'm going with it. Yeah, sure I have a sketchbook-load of ideas waiting to jump out this year, but I need to explore this Darwin and South American mammal fossil thing for a bit. My wife was great, just said go for it. Sure I spent ten hours drawing, painting and liveblogging; but I'm going where the Muse leads me.

So here's is where I left Charles since Darwin Day, discovering our friend the glyptodon.

It's not complete, and I'm still working on it. Remind me to fix the wrist. And the sky remains a mystery for now.

But I'm not about to abandon two of the other ideas that have been rattling around in my brain, waiting for release through my micro-paintbrushes.

Here's the beginning of one. I was hoping to sketch megatherium, but it turns out the Royal Ontario Museum doesn't have one on display. So, after a hasty 20 minutes between work ending and the R.O.M. closing, I sketched the distinguished skull on the left, an eremotherium.

You may notice I was looking up at it. On the right is the glyptodon again, a new drawing.

There will be more to this image, including Charles. To picture him, think of this quote: "He should be quite well-protected. If he survived the freezing process, that is."

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Monday, 16 February 2009

Art Monday: Deviants on Darwin

The massive art-sharing site DeviantArt is a place of wild abandon and artistic freedom...and a lot of Shonin and Shoju manga. I've had a gallery there almost as long as I've been blogging.

I wasn't planning on writing too much more about last year's Darwin piece. I may have some more news concerning its use, but that's all. However, while I was busy liveblogging a new Darwin painting and enjoying other people's posts on Darwin Day, I didn't realise that one of the DeviantArt high-muckety-mucks named Stykera had selected it as a Daily Deviation for Darwin Day.(click on the nice man to go to it's place in the DeviantArt gallery. Once there, click to enlarge)

It was a torrent, at least by my standards. Suddenly, since it was included as a Daily Deviation;
-it has received about 5700 new pageviews,
-been commented on over 400 times (ignore ones authored by "Nobody"; seems to be a glitch)
-I've received another 400 inbox comments,
-456 people have favourited the painting and added it to galleries,
-66 people have downloaded the image and
-some mudslinging by creationists has been ably handled by some real science-lovers on DeviantArt!

All while I obliviously worked on the new piece. I feel like there was a concert in my painting's honour, complete with a love-in of "Happy Darwin Day" and a chair-busting brawl while I was out buying milk.

Lucky for me, science, and our man Charles, there are some very enthusiastic science-loving articulate and patient artists who gave the creationists a dressing-down while I fiddled with my paintbox.

Wading through all the comments is taking me a while, but here's some of the fine folks whose galleries I'd invite people to visit and comment on. These able people - before now, all strangers to me - rushed in to stack barricades of science books against the tide of baffling ignorance. Not all are atheists - but they understand evolution by natural selection.

Stykera, Azkardchic, Not-Bernard (he really was amazing and patient with a particular commenter) Oddspelling, Alyxium, thewizardess, Archimedes-Theory, and Se1ene.

Thanks to all DeviantArtists for their support and wishing a merry Darwin Day!
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Sunday, 15 February 2009

Art & Marriage in brief

Over at Gurney Journey, artist-illustrator James Gurney has raised the topic of being an artist and how it affects the ones we love.

There are dozens of fascinating responses pouring in. Here is my own:
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Since we met (in a gothy dance club), I have been captivated by my wife's grace, beauty and movement. Early on, we both realized we shared a love for fairy-illustrations. Our second date was viewing the Victorian Fairy Art exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. As such, she remains a muse and subject of many still-life studies.

I work a full-time job, and have been the main bread winner while she has pursued her education. Art is the perilous whirlwind surrounding my full and happy life.

Since beginning my blog almost 2 years ago, the practice of continually yanking some art studio time into my life has been made easier by my wife's encouragement and advice. She is not a painter, but an educator, and I'm incredibly lucky.

To Erik Bongers; I love the idea of that contract, and I marvel in comparison to my own life how I could not make that work! The tumultuous unexpected has a way of making a presence.

Great topic, James, yielding interesting responses.
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Friday, 13 February 2009

Merry Darwin Evening!

Liveblogging a new painting has taught me some things:

-It is possible to tire from the taste of amaretto-flavoured coffee (!)
-Don't start until you have a kick-ass drawing already complete, scans & pain
table prints ready
-Stop reading other Darwin Day posts when trying to paint
-Twitter is all aboot being an amazing tool
-There is no such thing as a small enough brush for an 8.5x11" painting
-As prodigious and exemplary as his work was, even Mr. Darwin must have slept sometimes.

Perhaps I should have simply tinted the drawing in Photoshop and called it a night?


I will soldier on over the weekend, and post a follow-up for Art Monday at the latest. Thanks to everyone for support today and all the entertaining and informative things I never knew about our Charlie.

This ain't done.

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Thursday, 12 February 2009

Darwin Day Liveblog 5: deep in the ugly

At this phase, I feel like I can't stand the painting. If I wasn't clocking myself, I'd probably move on to a different piece. Charles is feeling it too: he's aged 20 years since the pencil sketch somehow.

Starting to work on the fossil skull. Maybe flipping on my iPod will help me pull it outta this nosedive by Liveblog 6.

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Darwin Day Liveblog 4: holy yellow batman


The Ugly Phase indeed.
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Darwin Day Liveblog 3: set-up

The painting is underway. I think I'm loving the Gold Ochre Transparent Hue on this one. And plenty of Naples Yellow, naturally.

This is the super-heroic Art S. Buck model in the pose, to try and get the lighting down from an indirect, overhead source in my studio, below.


Here's my set-up, this time on the dining room table. Should be moving along faster now.




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Darwin Day Liveblog 2

The more refined sketch.

Mr. Darwin's hand extended off the page, so I taped another sheet and kept drawing; it's been cut-off by my scanner.

This should be enough detail to print onto canvas-paper and the painting will begin. The glyptodon doesn't have the scute-y plate on it's head, but I think it works.

I'm aiming for a limited palette, deep shadow, high lighting and a sense of movement. In many ways, a counterpoint to last year's painting of busy contemplation. There should be some more surprises in the final composition that I don't need to to add to the drawing.

I hope everyone is enjoying a nice Darwin Day feast of rhea and armadillo!

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Darwin Day Liveblog 1

While doing the dishes last night I hit upon a composition I think works -er, not of Charles Darwin doing the dishes, but my mind wanders with the suds.

It's been a busy month so far of travel and illness, and I'm a little behind. Last year, I was ahead of the game with a drawing I was already quite pleased with, and photographed results every hour, and the painting took three. Drawing is the skeleton and muscle on which the skin of oil paint rests, and it takes time to grow. Painting on a time limit can help me work through the despair I often feel when a piece is in the ugly phases. Let's see what happens today. Forgive me, if today's exercise is not a triumph, but merely a stalemate.

Let's dive in.


Sketch one, above, inspired by suggestions made by Karen James. Perhaps this will become a full-fledged piece, but nautical vessels are not at the moment a strength I've tapped.

Thumbnail sketch, above.

Working out the pose using a super-heroic model for structure and shadow, above.

Early face and pose. Enter...the glyptodont!

Scanning and tweaking to post is taking a bit. I'll forge ahead and be back by 6 pm eastern standard!


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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Tomorrow: liveblogging a portrait

Tomorrow, February 12th is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, and the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species first publication.

I'm far from the only artist to wish to depict the man whose insight gave the world so much. Make sure you see Chris Zenga's irreverent Darwin-zombie-teddy-bear at The Day After, and Carl Buell's astounding new portrait (as well as a previous beauty here!) I expect we'll be seeing some work from Bond at ReEntry as well.

So in between travel and illness, I've been working on some sketches
of a younger portrait of Darwin, and I plan to live-blog the results every hour. I should get started around 1500h e.s.t., and I'll update this post with an edit for an exact time of the initial layers of paint. The first layers are usually dishearteningly ugly.

'Might be getting linseed oil on the scanner again...

Oh, a peek? Okay.


But this isn't what it will look like.

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Monday, 9 February 2009

Art Monday: sick day and caterpillars

Art Monday falls prey to a sick day. Please consider this repeat drawing as a test-pattern. Click to enlarge a bit.

Hopefully this is just a 24 hour bug and I'll be in fighting form tomorrow. Enjoy the caterpillars and chrysalis.

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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Blogroll Amnesty Day

Blogroll Amnesty Day is a bloggy community event wherein more popular blogs create links to less popular blogs. You can read all about it at Skippy's.

Here are some blogs I'd like to see get even more attention.

-The Day After - art by my friend Chris Zenga, focusing mainly (but not exclusively on) the walking tedd, Zombie Bears many based on different archetypes. Zenga is a socially-conscious horror artist as well and is donating a portion of his print sales to a good cause. It reminds you to be careful 'cuz when you go out to the bloggy woods today, you're in for a big surprise.
-Relationship-a-holic - I value different points of view, and I've started following this blog to get just that. Still in its nascent stages, I'm enjoying the wit and occasional snark.
- Hammered Out Bits - professional blacksmith (yeah, that's right, I said blacksmith!) Darrell Markewitz and his adventures in artistry. This is as hands-on as it gets. Swords from meteorites!
- orchidart - This is a focused blog and focused artist. Personally, I'm always chasing after ideas and things in science which wow me. Artist Garness looks at a single wide-ranging subject and I find these images quiet my mind. I contemplate how they were painted, and how the orchids grow.
- New Minority - Family-man, atheist and soldier, Jones is a commenter here who looks at the world from a rare vantage point.

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Monday, 2 February 2009

Art Monday: young Charles v.1

Darwin Day is fast-approaching, and this year I'd like to focus on a portrait of the younger Charles Darwin. It's one of two ideas I have to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species.

While waiting for a flight to North Carolina, I used George Raymond's famous watercolour of an early-thirties Charles as a reference. This portrait was done after Charles returned from his 5-year voyage on The Beagle, and is usually taken as being representative of how Charles would have appeared in his Beagle days.

I'd like to capture some of that spirit of robust energy in the younger man on the voyage. The type of man who could ride horses around South America, dig up megatherium fossils, brave the rocky Galapagos and hot sun, and see the world with fresh eyes.I began with this sketch while sitting in the airport.

Hmm. A little too jowly, or wide-faced? Muttonchops not muttony enough? I plan to do longer, wind-ruffled hair and a confident smile. I'd also like to give him a bit more hair than the Raymond piece. A lot can happen to a man in five years. My sketch seems to be a long way off of this fine portrait. What do you think on the right track
?

Karen James of The Beagle Project suggested I try to live-blog the painting on Darwin Day. I may attempt that. But the two competing ideas I have may end up being one piece and so I need to prep early. That means sketching and working up to a final drawing.

We'll see. And megatherium may make an appearance this year. *wink*

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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Coming soon...


Art and design by Dave Ng of The World's Fair, art by Glendon Mellow of The Flying Trilobite.
Editor, Jennifer Rohn of Mind the Gap, series editor Bora Zivkovic of A Blog Around The Clock. Winning contributers listed here, cartoon & poem here.

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ScienceOnline '09: art & science continues

"A poem is never finished, just abandoned". Paul Valéry's quote also applies to the visual arts.

Following the art & science session a ScienceOnline'09, here are some more reviews of the session and compelling new topics and examples in the art and science mold.

-Nobel Intent - review and reflection of the session.
-Expression Patterns - overview of day 2 and photo of me loving Jessica Palmer's Apostemism.
-Art Vs. Science Part Two: You want raw data? You can't handle raw data! - at Bioephemera. Jessica continues to explore the ambiguity between real data and its use in partially related art. Does this tension lead to any better understanding? Does it corrupt the data for irrelevant use? Head over and check out the video.
-Almost Diamonds - the conference. Meeting SF author Stephanie Zvan and her husband Ben was one of the highlights of the conference for me.

You can follow the ScienceOnline label to see more links to this lively session.

Bora has also a link of the wonderful supporters of ScienceOnline '09. My gratitude to each for an unforgettable experience.

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