Kate Solbakk



Heliozoa are also known as "sun animalcules" because they look like tiny suns in the microscope. I drew this in early spring of 2021, when I was feeling a rush of creative energy inspired by the return of sunlight after the long dark winter.

I decided to create an ambiguous space-like atmosphere, both to emphasize the sun-like appearance, and because Heliozoa are common in both soil and freshwater samples. I wanted the background to be ambiguous, so the final piece could work in any setting.

Despite the simple composition, this piece was unexpectedly challenging. I watched documentaries about space and studied images of planets, trying to understand what it was that made these particular images of spheres feel so vast. That was how I got the idea to add a little mist around the edges of the cell, and to include some particles of varying sizes in front of it.

I also studied images of sea urchins and jellyfish, and one very helpful photo of a giant balloon filled with smaller balloons, but couldn't quite find exactly what I needed to understand how the light should travel in and around the cell in this specific atmosphere. I ended up putting a dog toy in a clear tub of water under a lamp, and taking pictures of it from several angles to create my own reference photos.

If you like this artwork, you can order a print of it here or support me on Ko-fi. For inquiries about DIY prints, licensing, commissions, collaborations or just to share enthusiasm about microbes, please email post@mikroliv.no, or send a message on Instagram. I love hearing from you!