Tag Archives: Painting

Coffee Brain

February 5th, 2012 | Brain

Our society certainly owes a lot to caffeine.  The National Coffee Association reports that around 54% of Americans drink coffee every single day, and another 25% drink coffee occasionally.  And when you add in other drinks that contain caffeine like soft drinks and tea, it’s estimated that over 90% of North Americans consume caffeine daily.  The drug performs its magic by acting as a central nervous stimulant, warding off drowsiness and restoring altertness.  Because caffeine is both water-soluble and lipid-soluble, it readily crosses the blood–brain barrier that separates the bloodstream from the interior of the brain.

Artist Michele Banks from Washington, D.C. wanted to pay tribute to this wonderful drug by creating the excellent coffee-inspired watercolors shown above.  She describes her process below:

I’ve never hidden the fact that much of my inspiration comes from caffeine. I added some to my explorations of the wonders of the human body and came up with Coffee-Stain Brain, an original watercolor painting, combining the beauty of the brain with the wonders of that most excellent elixir, coffee, without which not much progress would be made in either the arts or sciences…

I put down a background wash in a rich coffee brown shade, and then “painted” on it with a paper coffee cup dipped in paint in a dark, espresso brown. The paint spreads out a little, creating that coffee-ring-on-paper pattern familiar to many of us from studying or working late. The background is a rich, creamy, cafe au lait shade.

I really enjoy how she implemented the idea of the coffee stain into the watercolors.  It almost feels as if the works were created by accident late in the night as she worked on other projects.

You can find more coffee brains and other science-inspired watercolors for sale from her website here.  They would make a great addition to the lab.



In Space Without Restraint – The Paintings of Jeremy Geddes

January 26th, 2012 | Space

The Red Cosmonaut

The Red Cosmonaut – Oil on Board – 2009

Redemption – Oil on Board – 2010

Jeremy Geddes is a hyper-realist/surrealist painter from Melbourne, Australia.  He has experience in the comic book and video game industries but now focuses all of his time on creating epic paintings of Astronauts & Cosmonauts floating precariously through space.  Geddes uses photographs taken from around Melbourne for inspiration, but he quickly leaves the concrete world behind with his work.  His paintings hold a certain level of abstraction that leaves the viewers pondering how the scenes came to be.

Cosmonaut 3 – Oil on Board – 2009

Cosmonaut 4 – Oil on Board – 2009

Alley – Oil on Linen – 2007

The Street – Oil on Board – 2010/2011

Heat Death – Oil on Board – 2009

There is Glory in our Failure – Oil on Linen – 2007

Freeway – Oil on Board – 2007

These post-apocalyptic cityscapes with faceless astronauts floating quietly through are really quite extraordinary to me.  I think Geddes has created a perfect balance of realism and conceptual abstraction.  It’s honestly the kind of art that I wish I had made.  These mysterious space people from a world unknown operate in a quiet melancholic space that operates by its own set of cosmic rules.  It would be spectacular to stand in front of one of these paintings in person and be absorbed into the abandoned scene.

If you happen to be in New York in late 2012 (Oct 20 — Nov 17), enjoy Jeremy’s work at the Jonathan Levine Gallery.

Find more of Jeremy Geddes’ paintings here.

And you can also take a look to his blog to see some details on his works and sketches.



Are We Not Drawn Onward, We Few, Drawn Onward to New Era

January 21st, 2012 | Brain

Yo Banana Boy – 2007 Oil on stainless steel, 66 x 50 cm

Valerio Carrubba is an Italian artist, born Sicily in 1975, and now living and working in Milan.  His work is defined by vibrant colors and hyper-realistic imagery that has a way of jumping off the canvas at you.  To create this effect, he uses high quality oil paints and ultra thin synthetic brushes on stainless steel canvases that are prepared by spraying two layers of a transparent primer for metals and two layers of white acrylic pigment before painting.

Degas Is Aged – 2008 Oil on stainless steel, 60 x 52.6 cm

Delia Failed – 2006 Oil on stainless steel, 60 x 52.6 cm

Nina Ricci Ran In – 2006 Oil on stainless steel, 60 x 52.6 cm

Bird Rib – 2007 Oil on stainless steel, 52 x 70 cm

From his gallery’s website:

What is unusual about Valerio Carrubba’s process is his choice to paint the same picture twice, so that the superimposition of the same figure creates a slight mismatch in lines and forms. This repeated action transforms the painting into an automatic gesture, that at one and the same time, emphasizes and repudiates the subject.

If you have a keen eye, you may have noticed that all of the titles are actually palindromes (as is the title of this post!), words or phrases that can be read forwards or backwards without a change in meaning.  Carrubba’s painting technique could be described as palindromic as well – he implements a doubling of each brushstroke to take away any hint of texture, which I think gives his paintings a certain stoicism.

And while I have always been a big fan of anatomical drawings (likely the reason I was drawn to his work), Carrubba was not actually very interested in the anatomy itself.  As noted in one interview with Carrubba:

My approach to painting is totally conceptual. My work is to continually develop the realisation of processes from which pictures are derived. Putting the idea of form, subject and content in crisis, they arrive at the loss of the image and its meaning… …I am not interested in anatomy itself, it is just a means. I try to emphasise this ambiguity.

Needless to say, Carrubba must have studied his anatomy quite closely to produce such accurate portrayals of the human body.

Find more of Carrubba’s work here.

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