Sunday, 25 May 2008

Artwork Monday: Mother Mars

In honour of the Phoenix lander's successful touchdown in the Martian Arctic last night, I thought I would share a painting done a number of years ago.

Mother Mars

This painting was inspired by the Martian meteorite, ALH84001 and the inscription is carved into the rock in the bottom left.

The figure represents a mythology that never-was, the personification of Mother Nature on the planet Mars, wasted and haunting.

After struggling with a "mermaid's purse" shark egg to represent the false hope of organisms on Mars, I eventually attended a lecture at the University of Toronto where the topic of discussion was the possible discovery of fossil remnants in a meteor that originated on Mars. I learned about the magnetite chains found in the meteor, and watched a video of the cute little microbes whipping this way and that, following a moving magnet. I replaced the shark egg with an enlarged, ruptured microbe immediately.

Until that lecture, this painting sat unfinished and abandoned for over a year, and I was sure I would paint over it. It's something I seldom do, but I really wasn't fond of it. The addition of the magnetite-bearing microbe made all the difference to me.

The face was a sort of riff on the infamous hill-face on Mars, later proved to be simply a low-res, shadowed coincidence. I felt the debunked image lent a certain poignancy to Mother Mars.

Mars is what we make it. Perhaps Phoenix will find signs of life in the Martian arctic? If not, it continues to be a planet of hope, and one we invest more myths, ideas and dreams in than any planet other than our own.

Here is one of Phoenix's of the Martian arctic:

(Photo from NASA site) Make sure to head over to the Phoenix site over the coming days, weeks and months for astounding findings. Also, check out the ever-entertaining Bad Astronomy blog for more news and commentary.

Cheers, to all involved with the Phoenix project!
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All original artwork on
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traumador said...

Oh man first the face on mars comes to life what next? Camera Tripods?!? The Martians are so going to invade!

Prehistoric Insanity said...

I agree with the Tyrannosaur. Wait did I just say that?

I agree in that the use of the Martian face was quite cool, and I picked it up right away before your great commentary. Takes me back to my paranormal obsessed teen years.

We started up a new feature on the Prehistoric Insanity blog inspired by your Monday art posts. So though it may seem familiar we give credit where the credit is due yo.

You "might" also approve of the content of the first installment. eTrilobite's Walcott's Quarry reminded me of an old abandoned project of my own so I thought I'd throw what little of it got made up on the web for all to enjoy (or more likely point fun at)

Loving the artwork. Keep it coming


Zach said...

I like the martian picture. For reasons I can't quite pinpoint, it brings to mind H. R. Giger, but that could be because I just saw and almost bought a book of Giger's work at B&N, so I kind of have Giger on the brain today.

Glendon Mellow said...

Hi Traumador! Don't worry about the Martians. The only thing we have they want is the Nintendo Wii with Cooking Mama. They'll leave us alone after that.

Glendon Mellow said...

Wow Craig, you've been busy! I feel like it was only yesterday I saw the post about Lillian. Your stuff is pretty amazing, I mean doesn't that type of work usually take at least half of ILM to produce?

I love the idea of a Burgess Shale story in the vein of Finding Nemo.

I'll be stopping by a lot more maybe...Mondays? :-)

Glad you got the face reference. I suspect there may be some similarities between your teen years and mine; although I was a bit more pagan-ish than "X-Files" back then.

Glendon Mellow said...

Hey Zach, yeah Giger has that effect on the brain doesn't he? He did have a lot of gruesome red landscapes with babies at one point, didn't he?

Giger remains one of the masters that I suspect will be long remembered after people forget post-modern art.

Mother Mars is about 11 years old now, and I was happy with the degree of finish I achieved, using a fan brush to make it appear almost airbrush-like. But for a long time it was the unfinished ugly painting I kept in a closet.

Prehistoric Insanity said...

You're too kind. ILM's would make mine look like the amateur crap it is.

Monday could be a good day to check, but I don't want to steal your thunder. That's why it is unspecified time interval.

Just to keep people on their toes I put up another pic of the Trilobite today...

That and I'm sitting on a huge back log of my 3D tinkerings for projects that were and will never be made sadly. If I put only one up a week than I'd be doing it for decades (at the same time I probably dont have enough for one a day for more than a year or two so hence the inbetween measure)

The Key Question said...

Stark and beautiful. I like your emaciated depiction of Mother Mars, which is a pretty accurate symbolism of the situation on Mars now.

Still I am hopeful that the Phoenix lander will at least discover the remains of simple prokaryotes that could have once thrived on Mars.

Oh, and I agree with your take on Giger. His shocking, inimitable amalgamation of the carnally biological and brutally mechanical will remain in the public consciousness for a long long time.

Glendon Mellow said...

Hey Craig, please steal my thunder! It'd be fun t0 get some seriously good scientific art around the blogosphere every Monday. The scientists have Friday to blog about peer-reviewed research, so us artsy types could swarm the joint on Mondays with jaw-dropping visuals.

In any case, my point about the quality of your work is that ILM has a legion of people perfecting Threepio's shininess; you're one guy doing very impressive work.

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks, Lim! I'm glad the piece resonated with you.

One of the plans for this piece was to have the sky covered in scudding clouds, to fill up the space, but I ended up feeling satisfied with the 'stark' sky as it is.

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