Thursday, 29 September 2011

White Tree iPod doodle

Little sketch done in Sketch Club on my iPod. Still summery weather here for the most part with the exciting tingle of autumn in the air. Dunno where this winter scene was inspired from. 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Flying Trilobite YouTube Channel

There's been a positive response to my two very brief art tutorial videos, so I decided to make a YouTube Channel to keep them in one place. I hope to make some more.

You can see both videos below, or visit them on YouTube for comments, liking, and counting how many times I say "umm".

Flying Trilobite YouTube Channel

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Making of The Last Refuge (repost)

This is a repost from last year.  I've been thinking about the process on this painting, and trying to apply some of the lessons learned in some new work I have incubating in my brain and my sketchbook. 
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Earlier this month I debuted a new painting, commissioned by Kevin Zelnio of Deep Sea News and The Other 95%.  You can see Kevin's post about
 The Last Refuge here, and who it was for. 

Here's a little about the process of making that painting. 

Kevin had mentioned it to me quite a while earlier, the first time we met in person.  The idea rattled around in my head quite a bit, so there wasn't a lot of prep work needed for this one. 

I started with the sketch above, done using my Faber-Castell Pitt pens.  It's a typical type of starting sketch for me, not a lot of stuff that may make sense to someone else.  I'll try to explain it after the jump.

First of all, it's two sketches side by side.  Let's look at the right one: the little "x" marks all around are a typical comic book notation for all black background. I knew I wanted heavy black shadows, and the light source coming from behind. 

You can see the original composition was quite symmetrical:  I wanted almost a reverent feel, almost like a religious landscape.  It's an easier feeling to invoke with obvious geometry and I thought black smoker thermal vents on either side would evoke that. 

Turned on Die Antwoord  and Massive Attack videos on my 'puter, made some coffee (mocha java) and got started painting.  Used black acrylic for a base in the background. As oil paints age, they become darker and more transparent, so a dark ground will prevent the painting from bleaching over time. 

But at the last second I changed the composition.

Something about all that indanthrene blue...I needed to give the ocean itself more space.  I jettisoned the symmetrical composition for a more natural one.  Also, I wanted a series of lines of light that would direct the eye around the painting in a trangular way, and the submersible hiding behind a smoker wouldn't have helped.

I stayed with a classical compositions with three distances.  The first distance, is the rock at the bottom left with the big standard trilobite (Elrathia kingi is one of my favourites).  This typically gives the viewer an entryway into the painting, and since we're in the West, starting on the left is typical.  The trilobite kind of gazes and points into the rest of the painting. The 2nd, or middle distance, brings in more detail, and shows the "story" of the painting.

When painting the submersible, originally I hadn't add much in the way of light.  I knew I wanted to make some dramatic beams, and a halo, but if I did that and it looked awful, I wouldn't be able to get that smooth deep blue of the surrounding water without starting completely over in the background.

Had to go for it. I was happy with the result, but I still miss that deep mysterious blue cutting down the left hand side.  The light is more dramatic, less tranquil.  

The shape of the light beam is actually inspired by comics. I still pick up Marvel or Dark Horse comics now and then, (love New Avengers) and the shape of the light beams is roughly the same as when a ninja throws multiple stars: the arc of their hand intercut with the path of the throwing stars. If you read comics, you probably know what I mean. 

For the title, I kicked around names like "Deep Discovery" and suchlike, but Kevn supplied the perfect one:  The Last Refuge.

My aim for The Last Refuge was to create a painting the recipient could sit still and look at, and notice little details in the edges.  The cluster of trilobites on the right. The tubeworms rising out of the dark. The shape and texture of the sulpherous smoke. 

It's about a dream, isn't it?  Richard Fortey in Trilobite!  Eyewitness to Evolution said, "Hope has faded that, when today's mid-ocean ridges were explored by bathyscape, in some dimly-known abyss there might still dwell a solitary trilobite to bring Paleozoic virtues into the age of the soundbite..,". 

I hope Kevin and the painting's recipient enjoy The Last Refuge for many years to come. 
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The Last Refuge is also available in a variety of prints from my online print shop. I recommend the laminated print (shown below) or the charcoal frame with dark mat

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Feeling like Spider-Man

Created in ArtRage Studio Pro

Things are happily hectic these days. Consider this a report-card on my independent commission-career.

My wife is awesome, our baby is happy (except for the teething) and we've managed to spend some really good times with our nephew this summer.

Career-wise, thanks to Symbiartic on Scientific American, I've interviewed a ton of really fascinating people involved in the art+science intersection and have no end in sight to new posts for that blog. It's a real science-art movement, and I'm lucky enough to be a part of it.

I've been attempting to be less precious with my artwork, and dive into more sketches. The Flying Trilobite has been great to just put up my little scratches.

Lately the thing I'm most excited about are the opportunities that are popping up from so many unexpected places. Thanks to everyone who's thinking about me and my artwork for being inspired enough to want to work with me.  It keeps me going.

Like Spider-Man, I've recently begun meeting and collaborating with more and more super-people in the arts and sciences.

I have to be careful though.

Some exhaustion is setting in.  4 part-time jobs. I'm currently workin
g an entry-level retail position with a lot of part-time hours to help pay the bills. I'm still doing social media (Twitter) work for a major national retail brand and hoping to add more clients like that so I can potentially stay home with the baby and work from home. Symbiartic is a blast, and I'm giving that my all. I have a couple of exciting science-art commissions right now. And I'll be giving another talk on science-art and blogging at Harbourfront here in Toronto next month.

Like Spider-Man, I have the ability to do some spectacular things, but the fridge is all-too often empty since spectacular abilities don't always pay the bills.

Despite the 4 part-time jobs, money is really tight at home and each month is a challenge. It's easy to lose focus on what's next. My big hope at the moment is to take on 3-4 new social media clients like the one I'm already doing, and let go of the retail. Then, evenings and weekends open up for Symbiartic and commissioned illustration.

Recently, a good talk with my wife's uncle let me really step back and look at the big picture again, which is why I'm excited for the future. I've been so focused on the immediate need to literally feed my family and keep the lights on, I was losing sight of how far I've come. Thanks to everyone for your support.

I'm expecting amazing things from myself in the near future, so you can too.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Talking copyright and illustrator activism on Symbiartic

Today I have what I think is an important post up on Symbiartic over at Scientific American, discussing copyright and illustrator activism.  

Head over there to read and discuss whether I'm right in saying "It's time for Illustrators to take back the Net". Or just critique my sketchy Western illustrations. It was inspired by a lot of the posts and situations I link to, and from the growing community of illustrators on Google+. 

Here's the composite image I sliced up for the post, done with the latest edition of ArtRage Studio Pro:

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

Lookee here--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Stupendous Upcoming SONSI Science-Art Talks

Really excited about the upcoming talks for the Southern Ontario Nature & Science Illustrators group at Harbourfront on October 16th - and I'll be giving one!

My talk is about why it's essential that illustrators have a blog and use social media, without being terrified of copyright infringement.

Here's the page about the day:

Invitation to all illustrators in Southern Ontario:

SONSI's 2011 Presentation Day
October 16, 2011 
12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Toronto's Harbourfront Community Centre
Assembly Room A
627 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto

Please join us for an afternoon of illustration-related presentations by members of the Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators and a representative of Access Copyright. Light refreshments (coffee, cookies) will be provided.
For non-members, a $15 donation to SONSI is requested (or $10 for full-time students). This will help us cover the cost of facility rental and refreshments.

Space is limited so please register to attend by sending an e-mail to:

Arrive at noon, presentations begin promptly at 12:20.
12:20 pm to 1:30 pm "A Quick Look at Adobe Photoshop"
1:35 pm to 2:15 pm "What Access Copyright can do for Illustrators"
2:15-2:30 break
2:30 pm to 4 pm "Illustration Blogging; why it's essential"
4:10 pm to 4:50 pm "The Content of Contracts" 

"A Quick Look at Adobe Photoshop" by SONSI member Jeremy Loranger
Adobe Photoshop is one of the most powerful programs in an illustrator’s arsenal today. However useful it may be, Photoshop can also be quite a daunting program for newcomers. This presentation will serve as a brief introduction to the program as well as provide some very useful tips and tricks that are commonly overlooked in many tutorials. Proper file formatting for print and web, as well as web security for your work will also be discussed. Bring your questions!  

Jeremy Loranger has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Technical and Scientific Illustration from Sheridan College and has been working freelance for 2 years. His work covers a broad spectrum including fine art, biomedical textbook illustration, exploded isometric assembly diagrams, video game production art, and 3D modelling.

"What Access Copyright can do for Illustrators" by Margaret McGuffin of Access Copyright
Every day across the country individuals in schools, businesses and government copy excerpts from published works to obtain the valuable content they need to get their jobs done. But are you - the owners of that content - being compensated? If one of your copyrighted illustrations is published in a book, newspaper, magazine, or journal, then you need to find about becoming an Access Copyright Affiliate. Don't miss out on Payback! Also, Margaret will explain what grants The Access Copyright Foundation offers to creators of copyrighted material, including Research and Professional Development Grants. 

Margaret McGuffin is Director of Licensing and Distribution Services at Access Copyright. Prior to joining Access Copyright, Margaret worked as a consultant providing business planning and research services to organizations including the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, Canadian Heritage and The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Margaret has been involved in the formation and development of a large number of music industry collective management organizations including the Canadian Private Copyright Collective and the Neighbouring Rights Collective of Canada. Margaret currently sits on the Advisory Committee of MusiCounts which is a not-for-profit providing grants to schools across Canada for the purchase of musical instruments. She also spends a large amount of her free time in hockey arenas with her two children as a team manager and trainer. For more information about Access Copyright visit their website:

"Illustration Blogging: why it's essential" by SONSI member Glendon Mellow
How to dive into the online world of blogging and social media to find work, fulfilment and community. Worried about image theft and your copyright? Don't understand Twitter or G+? Want to see how easy it is to set up a blog?  Blogging your artwork can be essential in today's market - people expect to be able to provide feedback in numerous ways to images they find on the internet. We'll discuss the basics to the latest in social media for illustrators and how to be effectively busy online without losing control of your images and brand.

Glendon Mellow is a fine artist + illustrator whose projects have ranged from fine art commissions to tattoo design to museum display; appearing in magazines such as Earth and Secular Nation, in books such as Geology in Art and The Open Laboratory and sites such as io9.comHe has spoken at the Centre for Inquiry Ontario and at ScienceOnline.  Glendon is a co-blogger on the new Scientific American science-art blog Symbiartic and shares his art process at his blog The Flying Trilobite, and tweets at  @flyingtrilobite. His portfolio can be found at

"The Content of Contracts" by SONSI member Emily S. Damstra
Wondering if it's really worthwhile to have your clients sign an agreement? Worried that your contract is missing something? Frustrated that the contract your client provided isn't quite what you had in mind? Hear from someone who has signed a lot of contracts in her career; learn from her mistakes as well as her successes.

Emily S. Damstra has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan and has been a full-time freelance illustrator for eleven years. Her clients have included the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, The City of Kitchener, The University of Michigan Press, Natural History Magazine, The Royal Canadian Mint, The Calgary Zoo, and many more. Visit her website:

The Southern Ontario Nature and Science Illustrators is a regional organization of illustrators whose works focus on science and nature.
Our goals are to:
  • Further our own professional development by learning from each other
  • Encourage each other toward higher standards of competence and ethics
  • Network and socialize with others having similar interests and work experiences
  • Support the intellectual property rights of visual artists
  • Promote our discipline to the general public and to potential clients
  • Educate the public about science and nature through our work
We meet every month or two throughout the year, primarily in locations between Kitchener and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Anyone with a genuine interest in nature and science illustration is welcome to join.
For more information about SONSI please visit our website:

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

Lookee here--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Beware of Explodey Anklyosaurs

Beware of explodey pineapple anklyosaurs.

Sometimes they travel far distances before kabooming.

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This post marks the return of Art Mondays on The Flying Trilobite! My posting has been a bit sporadic lately, so I think I'll return to this discipline that I held for a few years on the blog.  At the very least, expect new art and art commentary each Monday.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop 

Lookee here--> Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the new Scientific American Blog Network!

Friday, 2 September 2011

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