Cactus Car and Nature cover | Painting for CSIRO

I was recently asked to create an image for a new CSIRO development — a cactus-inspired membrane to coat fuel cells for potential use in electric vehicles. The researchers, based in Melbourne and Korea, wanted the image to feature both cacti and a car. 


Here are the three pitches I came up with. (The fourth was going to be a car with a succulent garden under the hood, but I got sleep and they'd already decided.)


The team were most pleased with the image at the top right, the car filling up at a cactus bowser. I decided to use oil, since I hadn't painted with that for a while, and I thought it'd be more efficient — which indeed it was.

Surprisingly the painting took just three or so sittings, a welcome change to my last few projects. 

Cropped brighter, reduced.JPG

It's an exciting piece of research, more of which can be read about here. The story got plenty of press coverage, including a brief spot on 2ser FM with myself, though I kind of got carried away talking about cacti rather than fuel cells and their membranes...

The team entered the painting to be the cover for the next edition of Nature, in which the research appeared, however it didn't make it due to scheduling issues. Here's a mock up I did to get the spacing right: