Tuesday, April 14, 2015

More Microbial Surrealism

I'm slowly but surely adding to my portfolio of surrealism paintings based on things I've seen under various types of microscopes. (Being a microbiologist has its benefits!)

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A Quarter Past Tomorrow        20" x 24" / 51cm x 61cm
 A Quarter Past Tomorrow shows the sporulating structures and threadlike hyphae ("hy-phee") of one of the common green bread molds -- Aspergillus glaucus. My intent was not to make a scientific illustration, but to produce a work of fine art in the tradition of French surrealist Yves Tanguy.

Also, surrounding the mold are small golden-yellow spheres. These are the bacteria species, Staphylococcus aureus, the cause of the MRSA infections that becoming increasingly common. I considered making the Staph much bigger, but in the end, I decided to keep things approximately to scale -- and bacteria are much smaller than fungal growth.

The green balls that form the sprays on the ends of the vertical growths are reproductive spores. If you've ever watched mold growing, you'd see it starts out as a white, cottony mass, then it turns fuzzy and green. The spores are what gives mold its color.

Aspergillus species are normally benign unless your immune system is down and you inhale lots of spores (which are all around us). Then it can cause a pretty nasty infection in the lungs and even disseminate to other parts of the body.

That concludes today's microbiology lecture. Enjoy the painting. More to come, possibly with greater liberties taken when I present these mysteriously beautiful organisms.

Finally, I'll be creating a website soon just for the surreal works (with links back and forth to my western landscapes site). The new site isn't created yet, but the URL is www.SurrealMark.com. I'll let you know when it's up and if I'll be offering these paintings online, or if the site will be strictly a portfolio with information on where to acquire the art.


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