Magnificent Painting By Jessica Palmer (aka BioE)!!11!! {Updated With Artist's Annotation!}

March 10, 2009

Comrade PhysioProf won this beautiful painting by Jessica Palmer–who is also the blogger known as Bioephemera–with the biggest Donors Choose donation to her blog’s challenge. It was matted and framed by an awesome fucking frame shop in the neighborhood. w00t!
UPDATE: Here is the artist’s annotation written by Jessica:

Well, the medium is watercolor. There may be a tiny bit of gouache in the details on the bubbles and so on, and pencil for the sketch. I wanted to do a cephalopod for this contest because it’s a theme of my blog, but the last one I did was really bright and science-fictiony. I wanted to go a different, more organic direction and paint an art nouveau style cephalopod, such as you might find in a stained glass window or on a piece of enamelled jewelry.
The unusual palette was partly inspired by a Daniel Merriam painting I had seen, and partly by a grungy patina on a collage.I originally was going to have grungy letters and numbers layered in the painting – I was thinking of a submarine or something – but as I proceeded the painting was just too organic and flowing for that to work. So I ended up embedding a Shakespeare quote in the background of the piece – Ariel’s song from The Tempest,
Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
which came to mind as I was painting, in part because of the coral color of the octopus, but mostly because I’ve always been kind of fascinated with those lines. I wanted the painting to be sumptuous in its curves and detail (rich), but still surreal and dreamlike (strange). (I was emphatically trying NOT to think of Hitchcock’s “Rich and Strange,” which is a terrible film.) I was also thinking while painting this of Percy Bysshe Shelley, who drowned young. (It turns out the boat he wrecked in was named “Ariel”; I did not find this out until after I finished the painting. Odd.)
Meaning – well, a cephalopod is a changeable creature – changing shape and color freely – so it seemed like the right critter to represent a theme of transformation, especially timeless transformation, with its tentacles making little infinity loops and spirals all over the place. I envision this octopus as a sort of wise dragon of the deep, guarding its treasure of bones and coral and pearls and whatever else is down there decaying away in slow motion (including Shelley). But it could mean something quite different to someone else. I don’t think the artist has a special privilege when it comes to interpreting the artwork.

No Responses Yet to “Magnificent Painting By Jessica Palmer (aka BioE)!!11!! {Updated With Artist's Annotation!}”

  1. chezjake Says:

    PZ is going to be fucking jealous of your awesome win!


  2. ScienceWoman Says:

    That is an amazing painting!


  3. Beth Says:

    Stunning! You’re very lucky. I adore her other work too: Cephalopods and insects are two of my most favourite things (obviously hers, too!)


  4. Science Bear Says:

    Wow, what a great piece!!
    Does she sell her work anywhere [said with slight about of saddness, since a poor graduate student probably can’t afford it]?


  5. Erin Says:

    Man…that would go perfectly in my bedroom. I’ll trade you for an EJ original.


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