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Ancient myths and microscopic images of molecules have inspired Julie Newdoll’s paintings.

“Our myths and stories evolved much like our biological systems,” says the American painter. “The most useful and interesting bits were preserved and elaborated upon through time, until we arrived at our current state.”

Newdoll, who has a background in microbiology, uses scanning electron microscope images to create “digital sketches” of her ideas. She prints these “underpaintings” onto canvas and then applies oils, textured gels, and modeling pastes. Several of Newdoll’s paintings have appeared on the covers of scientific journals, such as the current issue of Nature Reviews Genetics.

Here are this year’s works from the “Life Forms” series, a group of paintings exploring our basic structures and origins.

Julie Newdoll. "Base Pair," mixed media, 18" 24", 2003. Inspired in part by the book Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox. Franklin's photograph of the X-ray diffraction pattern of DNA is at the center of the image.
Julie Newdoll. "Dawn of the Double Helix," oil on printed canvas with gold leaf, 18" 25", 2003. Inspired in part by the book Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox.
Julie Newdoll. A digital sketch of "The Evolution of RNA World as Insects in the Navajo Creation Story," 24" 33", work in progress. RNA images, created using AMIRA graphics from the Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum für Informationstechnik Berlin (ZIB), courtesy Alice Boit.
Julie Newdoll. "RNA in a Modern World," mixed media, 24" 33", 2003.

To see more paintings and current projects, visit the artist's Web site, “Brush with Science.”

Birgit Reinert

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