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Today I'll talk more about the art and science behind the cell series...

Keep Calm and Keep Making Art

These my-size paintings are serenely inhabiting a nice spot by the window of my studio space. They are finally starting to come together. At last, the many shades of blue convey the sense of motion I've been trying to find.
The challenge with these cell paintings (really, all artwork!) is to strike the right balance between fluidity and rigidity. Too fluid and it looks "messy" or "sloppy." Too rigid and it loses that intuition, that liveliness, the appeal that a person made it and not a computer.  

The next step is some fine detail work to accentuate the gold cell outlines. But if I filled in every single cell outline perfectly across the entire surface of the painting, there would be a certain stiffness, a robotic quality.

It's my job as the artist to find the right places to punch up that detail and specificity, but to still allow those beautiful moments of instinct, of searching, to shine. 
Interestingly, the content of this work embodies the same themes as my artistic process. 

Can you tell what's different about the cells in the two paintings above? Specifically, about the shapes of the cells?

You might notice that the cells on the left look more regular, rigid, packed together like sardines. And that the cells on the right look elongated, in motion, like they're flowing around each other.
What causes cells to change from being rigid and not able to move, to being able to flow past their neighbors? Why, when, how does it happen? 

Biologists want to know more about this collective motion!

This short time lapse video (click this link, or on the screenshot below) of airway epithelial cells clearly illustrates the idea of rigidity vs. fluidity in cell motion in real time. 
Sometimes the flowing, moving cells can be a bad thing, like when a cancerous tumor metastasizes and starts moving to other parts of the body. Research is also underway into whether the cells in their fluid state create a feedback loop that intensifies asthma attacks.

But this fluid state where the cells can move past their neighbors isn't all bad.

It's essential for repair and wound-healing. It's also a huge part of embryogenesis and development in all living things. The cells need to move and flow around each other to start forming what will eventually become a fully developed creature. 
It's been really exciting to be making artwork inspired by biology and this particular branch of research. 

If you're not into the science part, thanks for sticking with me through this newsletter. And if you are, and this wasn't enough science for you, let me know and I'll send you some more of the awesome articles and videos I've been looking at!
Thanks for reading! Please keep staying safe.
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Copyright © 2020 Sarina Mitchel Art, All rights reserved.


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