Thursday, July 28, 2011

Glowing Problem

My work, my real-deal-for-the-galleries work, deals with contrasting innate survival skills, instincts, and physical attributes against those which are manufactured.  Remember Clownfish?  That's part of this body of work.  There are so many ways to explore the topic, and I love it so.  After Clownfish, I decided it might be fun to do a series on bioluminescent creatures.  Most of these guys don't just go around glowing all the time; there's a behavior associated.  So this is a twofold topic: crazy physical adaptation (glowing) and using this as a tool (instinctive behavior). But this has turned out to be an ambitious project.

I'm not alone in saying that the vision in my head is amazing, but the real world example is less awe-inspiring.  I think I have a handle on getting things to glow, but the oh-so subtle color transitions are killing me.  Not to mention, I've only tried to paint such amorphous things as jellies and sea cucumbers.  The sea cucumber was far more successful as it had more structure, and more colors.

I think I have a plan:

  • black gesso - these things live in the abyss that is the deep sea.  It's DARK down there.
  • paint with glazes - hopefully this allows for the subtle color variations that I'm after.  It seems to work on the studies.
  • paint things that ARE NOT amorphous blobs.  It's hard to suggest depth in a clear creature with a short depth of field.  I think I'll have much better luck when I start painting recognizable things like the dragonfish (love!) or octopus.
  • use oils - nothing else conveys light the same way.  Not watercolor, and certainly not acrylic.  I'm avoiding opaque materials at all cost!
If you've tried this before, or you want to, let me know what you discover(ed).  

If you're not a painter, check out these cool videos.  They'll explain exactly why I want to paint these guys. :)
There's a ton more, but I'll save them for later. 

Edith Widder:Glowing Life in an Undersea World - kind of technical, but super informative.
                     The Weird Wonderful World of Bioluminescense

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