About a month ago, We started something new. Kalliopi Monoyios, 1/3 of the Symbiartic posse pushed Katie McKissick and myself to start working on themed creations made especially for our blog. The first theme: 'New Beginnings".

I am late for my New Beginning.

When beginning something new I often find it's important to incorporate the familiar, to play to my strengths. Paint with naples yellow and quinacradone burnt orange. Create beautiful tension with elongated, s-curved lines. At the very least, scribble out a trilobite or play with a Fibonacci sequence.

I meant for my entry to be a triumphant return to oil painting after too long an absence. Grabbing a clear-primed piece of slate, I set up a quick mini-studio on our kitchen counter.

I couldn't finish it.

Since having children 4 years ago, I don't really have a dedicated space for to use as a studio. My attempts with the pop-up studio were mixed. I got some good painting time in and enjoyed myself thoroughly, right to my bones.

Exhaustion and a busy schedule (having the time of my life with my wife and kids; full-time work; this blog; freelance illustrations) are bringing about more hesitation than they used to. Time is precious so it has to be good <-- This is what I keep not trying to tell myself.

Recognizing that returning to the pop-up set-up was proving difficult, I thought remixing a digital piece of minemight be the answer. There were some stylistic things I wanted to try. And it takes less time to set up my iPad and pressure sensitive stylus, after all.

I like this piece. I even love it a little bit. A trilobite grown out of leaves and vines. I love it enough that I used it as the image to help me celebrate 8 years of The Flying Trilobite Blog.

But it wasn't the image I had in my head for New Beginnings here on Symbiartic. I like the idea of a nautilus shell with wild, things growing out of it: new beginnings are mysterious and messy, they are surprising. The vine-trilobite was meant for other things.

I needed to return to the root of all art, traditional oil or digital paint. I needed to pick up my pencil once more.

This isn't finished either.

New beginnings are mysterious. They are messy and surprising. They also have false starts, and lost trails. Hopefully my artwork for Art Takes on Science: New Beginnings finds some surprising beauty on those lost trails. I'm still looking for it.


This post is part of an on-going series at Symbiartic called Art Takes on Science. We designed the series to highlight how three different science artists – a fine artist, a scientific illustrator, and a science comic – communicate the same science topic through very different means. For each new installment, we’ll introduce one relevant science topic and then shortly after we’ll each reveal what we’ve been working on in the studio. Aside from agreeing on the topic, there will be no other collaborating between the three of us. We hope you enjoy seeing the breadth of ideas we bring to the table as well as the opportunity to gain a little insight into science artists and their process. Read more about the motivations behind the series and as always, please feel free to contribute to the conversation via social media: #arttakesonsci #sciart #symbiartic