Shelly Smith in Mojave National Preserve

Shelly Smith
Seattle, WA, USA
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Amateur scientist, professional artist, lover of microorganisms, painter of protozoa, and general admirer of the natural world, I make paintings based on observed samples of water gathered from many places around the globe.
I make illustrated paintings with ink, gouache, gold, and sometimes even salt and soil. My process includes collecting water samples, documenting the site locations, and observing the contents with a laboratory microscope. I work both from direct live observation as well as from a series of videos and pictures I take as future reference. The work I produce is inspired by the tradition of scientific illustration and popular decorative motifs. Done in pen and ink with gouache washes, the illustrated paintings reflect the protozoa, diatoms, algae, and other microscopic life that lives in abundance, hidden from the naked eye but a vital part of our living world. The jewel like beauty of microorganisms sparkles through in glistening colors and metallic sheen, with bold line work reflecting the outlines of these small creatures under a slide.