Award-winning artist blends science and art to bring ‘messages from the crust of the Earth’

By Marlena Chavira Medford
Staff Writer

Marcos Armitaje has been a scientist for 32 years, but he only began creating art two years ago after prompting from his girlfriend.

Del Mar scientist Marcos Armitaje has spent decades combing the Earth’s crust for crystals, which he studies for clues about their formations. Part of that process involves shooting infrared light through the crystals, and then using a special camera to capture images not seen by the human eye. The result is nothing short of dazzling, and once it’s transferred to canvas, it is truly one-of-a-kind art.

Armitaje had been studying these images for years, but he didn’t realize their artistic potential until girlfriend Laura Romero set eyes on them.

“All of this art is her fault,” he joked. “When she told me this needed to be on canvas I said, ‘No, no, no — this is science. And she said, ‘No, no, no — this is art.’”

The truth of the matter is they’re both right, which is the beauty of it, Armitaje said. The crystals — which are harvested from a well-known energy vortex in Sedona, Ariz., — have natural facets that are aligned in a lattice format, lending themselves to beautiful textures, angles and colors. Once an image is transferred to canvas, Armitaje destroys the original image and throws away the crystal, making each artwork truly one-of-a-kind. Though he’s been doing this for two years, Armitaje said he’s still getting used to the idea of calling himself an artist.

“I always struggle a bit calling myself an artist because I feel I am an emissary. I consider these images messages from the crust of the Earth. I hope this gets people to think about how the Earth might be speaking to us. There’s something to this, and I don’t know what it is. It can get deep really quickly, and I get lost in it.”

Then again, getting lost in thought is often the point of art, bringing Armitaje’s work full circle. His unique work has earned him notoriety in science and art circles — and most recently, it earned him the coveted ‘Museum of the Living Artist Collectors Award’ at the San Diego Art Institute’s 51st International Juried Exhibition for his work titled “LaSelva.” The international competition was open to more than 900 entries, and Armitaje said winning such a distinction has helped him gain confidence in his work.

“It’s humbling and it’s really been a validation of the work. It’s also forced me to stretch and grow in new ways. I’m a scientist, but I’m now in-touch with my inner ‘right-brain person.’”

Armitaje is a member of the La Jolla Art Association, the San Diego Art Institute and Coastal Artists of Solana Beach. He also works a science professor at Cal State Northridge and is involved in independent science research projects. For more information about Armitaje and his artwork, please visit

Related posts:

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  3. Photography or fine art? Artist’s style keeps ‘em guessing
  4. Spontaneity and dreams drive artist’s paintbrush
  5. Benefactors mark 25 years in support of science

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Posted by Marlena Chavira-Medford on May 6, 2011. Filed under Del Mar, Featured Story, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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