Monday, 30 March 2009

Art Monday: how much digital?

Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Recently, I purchased a Wacom Intuos 3 4x6 tablet. Many of the contemporary artists I admire have included some digital elements into their workflow. I'm thinking of people like Jon Foster who paints in oil, then digital, and back again. Some artists like Wayne Barlowe were resolute in working with traditional materials, until experimentation with digital tools yielded a change of attitude, as seen in this digital piece by Barlowe from his Inferno series.

The last couple of years, I have incorporated more and more dig
ital elements in my work, especially for blog banners. I've been reading ImagineFX quite a bit to get a handle on the possibilities. There are times when I see a complicated method for say, a tree root, that I scratch my head and wonder why not just oil paint it instead of all this 3-d vectoring? The right tool for the right job.

In the case of my new Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil banner, it is still painted mostly in oils on a piece of shale. But I wanted to add a bit of multi-media to it, and included some pencilled portions of the crinoids on the right side. For digital, I often simply colour-correct and add text. This time I added a bit more with the tablet. Using a neutral putty-coloured background, you can see how much digital is painted over top of my scan of the oil-painted-shale:Click to enlarge. For comparison, here's the full painting again:You can see some details were added. Though I use incredibly small Micron brushes, I was able to add even more little veiny-structures to the wings. A few more highlights in blue, pink and white to add to the iridescence, with some green and blue transparent paint underneath to give some depth and a prismatic feel.

I also spent ages getting the correct green for the nobs on the trilobite's back
, to give it some coloured markings, though I'm not sure how visible they really are in the final.

The part I'm happiest with is the bit of green algae or moss staining the shale around a phantom outline of a crinoid stalk near the bottom centre.


It's a little thing, but using partially opaque digital paint and shaping it with the handy eraser on the back of the digital pen, I managed to create a detail I quite like in a previously empty area. This felt like a minor landmark in my painting abilities.

Will digital painting completely overwhelm my oils in a couple of years, as some friends and colleagues have speculated? It could happen. At the moment though, my art is a mashed together hybrid of traditional and digital, pigment and pixel.

Suitable that the blog is named after a mashed together hybrid too, I think.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery
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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil III

The new blog banner is now installed above.
Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil III
Oil on shale, pencil on bristol and a surprising amount of digital done in Photoshop with my new tablet. Copyright to moi, 2009.

For Art Monday, I'll try to show some of the details, and maybe just how much digital there is overlaying the oil on shale. I added quite a bit of colour to this little beastie.

Insect wings instead of mammal! Do I need a new tattoo?

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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 ###

Monday, 23 March 2009

Art Monday: Eremotherium & Glyptodon

Burning the candle at both ends. Happy and artistically busy. Please enjoy precious fossil eremotherium skull and fossil glyptodon skull while I scamper back into my cave-studio and continue cackling gleefully while I toil. These skulls are...precious...to me.

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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 ###

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Win a print at The Day After

Artist Chris Zenga of The Day After is offering a chance to win a print or signed sketch!

Head over to The Day After for the deets. Chris is expanding his macabre art world of zombie teddy bears (Zom-Bear-Tep is probably my favourite) and embarking on a new children's project with his wife about the kitchen.

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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 ###

Monday, 16 March 2009

Art Monday: shale banner progress


The new Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil blog banner is almost complete. Here you can see the oil on shale, with oil & pencil crinoids off to the right hand side.The last few steps will be to peel the bristol off the back of the shale, and scan the bristol and shale in separately. This shale is too big for the scanner, so I may have to tilt it to wedge it in, or Photoshop-together two parts.

In the little peek of it last week, Eric Heupal of Eclectic Echoes and The Ot
her 95% suggested we don't often see enough bite marks on trilobites. Hmm. Battle-scars, eh? So far I have not put any on this little critter. This week I have taken a new leap forward in technique and invested in an Intuos 3 tablet. I know there's a couple of touch-ups I may try with it, and scars are on the list. I hope to have this baby completed in the next couple of days.

As a little aside, here's my first efforts (besides some loopy happy face exercises to get me use to the feel) with my new tablet. Remember this encrinurus drawing?
So here I've tried to mimic my pencil strokes and added two new nodules to the head, and a new elongated nodule on the left side of the cephalon. I may need to adjust the sensitivity of the pen to mimic my lighter pencil strokes. In the upper middle, I tried some light washes, and below that, some bolder painted strokes. Can't wait to play some more.

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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 ###

Monday, 9 March 2009

Art Monday: shale painting underway

A raw and unedited scan of what will be my new blog banner. Note the shiny wet oils glaring off the shale.

A mythical flying trilobite fossil heading for some crunchy crinoids.

Enough lollygagging! Back to work!

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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 ###

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Happy Flying Triloblogiversary to me...

Two years ago today, The Flying Trilobite began. A lot has happened since. I have back-posted a new "About" page which covers many of the highlights.
Last year, we celebrated with cake.

This year, I will be launching a swanky new blog banner. Another Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil painting on shale, but with a bit of a twist. More deets tomorrow for Art Monday.

Oh, and I have pie! Celebrate with coffee, pie, and the music of Julee Cruise! Cue the bas
s: derm derrrmm...derm derrrrrm...Warm, hearty thanks to my readers, commenters, lurkers, blog peeps, ScienceOnline session attendees, and art patrons; friends, familiy and most of all my wife Michelle who 'gets' what I am trying to do and encourages and inspires my work at each turn.

When waiting for my flight back to Toronto from ScienceOnline09, Nature Network guru Henry Gee asked me if blogging had changed my life.


It most certainly has. The degree of intellectual and artistic fulfillment I have gained rushed in to fill a void whose dimensions I had not been aware of before. I began The Flying Trilobite as a way to self-promote my art and artistic skills , which is still a major purpose for me, and I've also been enveloped by community. It's a challenge to keep up with the clever heavyweights in the science, secular and artsy continents of the blogosphere. I hope my paintings continue to inspire and find a place of interest.

What's in store for year 3?
Watercolours!
Digital painting!
Casting sculpture!
More t-shirts!
More portraits!
More human figures!
More lack of sleep, more coffee, more yearning to do art for a living, more Beagle-y goodness, more naples yellow...

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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 ###

Friday, 6 March 2009

Gaps in the artistic record

A brief list of art I'm missing to be considered the following type of artist:

Scientific Illustrator
-Cut away view of fish or of the Earth's crust with little labels
-Skeletal outline for clarity
-Heavily airbrushed, smooth view of pink & blue lungs
-Colourful landscape of organisms that would normally be hiding from each other

Pseudo-scientific Illustrator
-pulsating food morsel/medicine/sport drink going down gridded simplified human body to pulsate stronger in stomach
-simple diagram of human body with labels of animal names or words like "virtue" and "3rd eye"
-elegant watercolours of St. John's Wort and echinacea
-illustration with pyramids and lots of glittery silver

Paleo-Fantasy/SF Illustrator
-Leopard-bikini wearing woman riding mutant theropod with horns
-Innocent waif girl with clunky robot friend
-Herbivore & carnivore dinosaurs looking up in shock at UFO
-Blue shadowy background with PVC-wearing woman carrying two ridiculously huge and complicated guns

Fine Artist
-Object made from my own body or my trash
-Mash-up of multiple impermanent materials: painting on a cake left to go moldy and filmed for YouTube
-Painting "referencing" another artist's work, while allegedly subverting it
-Painting something vague that could be better explained in an op-ed column



Where do I fit, categorically? At ScienceOnline09, I used 5 categories about science-art that differ from these.

Art in awe of science sums it up enough.


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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 ###

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Open Laboratory 2008 launch!

It's here!


A big gaudy tail feather in my cap.

Thanks to Dave Ng of The World's Fair for a fun collaboration, and making my artwork look so good. Dave and I backed-and-forthed with the cover a bit, along with input from editor Jennifer Rohn of Mind the Gap and series editor Bora Zivkovic of A Blog Around the Clock. Dave did the heavy lifting, I just smeared the background around and tried not to crave chocolate-favoured coffee while I did it.

There's a ton of exciting entries I can't wait to read. My first book cover, and second publication within just a few weeks! I plan on waltzing around town with this book, letting people judge it by its cover.

Remember too, purchase of Open Laboratory 2008 goes to supporting next year's ScienceOnline unconference. This book is crafted for the love of reading science online.

You can find badges supporting the book, as well as a list of the editors, and blogs that are doing a shout-out all at A Blog Around the Clock.

Whaddaya think? Do we need a brief "making of" post?

(The Darwin image featured here is available in a variety of t-shirts from RedBubble. A portion of the proceeds goes toward The Beagle Project.)

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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 #
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2009 Calendar available for a limited time

Monday, 2 March 2009

Art Monday: making of "Introducing Sara Chasm"

Yesterday saw the debut of ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule, a new paleo-art blog with a whole crew of regular artists. When Craig Dylke approached me about it, I let out a heavy sigh. My commissioned work has been increasingly busy -for which I am continually excited- so could I really contribute to an ongoing group blog?

I just had to. Too exciting, and a lot of my favourite bloggers are present. Now, after the champagne has been smashed against the prow of our Ceratopsian Gallery, I couldn't be happier.

For my contribution, Introducing Sara Chasm, I knew I wanted to do some
thing a little left of scientific illustration. Okay, far off to the side.

I began by scribbling this sketch in my Moleskine on my walk
to work one morning.
It's important to carry around a small sketchbook for capturing tho
se ideas in the moment: when you wake up, when meeting a friend for coffee, after a shower or walking outdoors.

Using my trusty .3mm pencil, I made a more refined sketch. The photo reference is of a real person. I mulled over having Sara's t-shirt read ,"Canadian Grrls Rock", or maybe "Alberta girlz kick ass". Those also would have been good wall tags.For a while, Sara was going to be a hipster-photo-blogger of the kind that dwells on West Queen West here in Toronto, but the spray painted tag added a lot of colour. I drew that using my favourite india ink-brush pen, and erased all the pencilly-bits. A thick black pen (I use Faber-Castell's Pitt pens) like this can be great for quickly dropping in digital paint in Photoshop.I created the background using some rocks I scanned for texture, and embossed them to go with the light direction. With a digital hard brush I spattered paint in yellow-greens. Then, I added a medium-opacity white stucco to the wall.The oil painting. Completed in about 6 hours while listening to M.I.A., Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails and the new Lily Allen cd. I arrived at her name by thinking about Sara from ceratopsian, Chasm from chasmosaurus, and together they both sound a bit like sarcasm.After scanning the wet oil painting, there had to be a lot of clean-up. Using levels, I colour-corrected the blacks and whites. I tried to erase and blur the edges a bit to help it blend into the background.Finally, a bit of lighting to set the mood off. Click to enlarge the final product!
What do you think? I think Ms. Chasm looks a bit more 2-dimensional than originally intended, but the final product has a bit of an anime-feeling I don't see in my work. Will we see Sara Chasm again?

Make sure to check out the other images in the Art Evolved ceratopsian gallery, and leave comments!

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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

Sunday, 1 March 2009

ART Evolved - the launch! pkkk-keeww! (that's a launching noise)

ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule makes its mark on the innertubes today!

A gathering of 11 blogging paleo-artists, we're launching with a group gallery filled with horned frilliness. Ceratopsian dinosaurs! Drop by and make a comment or twenty.

I've chosen to paint a chasmosaurus, entitled Introducing Sara Chasm. Chasmosaurus is one of my very favourite fossils
that I've been visiting since I was a kid at the Royal Ontario Museum. I've anthropomorphized her a tad. "Making of" post to appear right here tomorrow.

You can also read bios of each artist , and here's mine. Our membership consists of:
Raven Amos
Peter Bond
Sean Craven
Craig Dylke
Marek Eby
Scott Elyard
Mo Hassan
Glendon Mellow
Zachary Miller
Angie Rodrigues
Ville Sinkkonen

We'll need to work on an "Avengers Assemble" paleo-artsy battle cry.


There's some tremendous talent at Art Evolved, I just couldn't say no to being a part of it. And a special thanks to Craig Dylke and Peter Bond, our administrators.

Why are you still here?! I said Ceratopsians! Get to ART Evolved!


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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
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