lesson in observation and commitment

Man who wishes to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details. – Heraclitus


The assignment focuses on natural objects with complex (and beautiful) structure and texture. The students set up a composition  balancing positive and negative space, using sea shells and insects – either or both.

Careful observation is key. I suggest they use a magnifying glass. I ask they consider the quality of the lines they use. What sort of lines represent structure? What sort of line represent texture? By now they want to have a larger selection of fine(r) markers.

A couple of students have a particularly challenging time and I suggest short breaks for them. The weather is so nice now, walking or moving will help to settle them.

Here are fine examples of the drawings.  Note composition, quality of line and the attention to detail.

Close up and personal by Virginia

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Bug Portrait by Marco

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Shell Game by Kat

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Bug and Shells by Is SaK

 

 

Sally Sells Seashells by the Seashore by Angela

Detail

The Starry Fish by Vince Van D’oh! by Virgil

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Sea Dreams by Anita

Detail

 

Equanimity by Amareli

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Deux Ex Machina by Anthony

Three Stooges by Adonis

Advanced students use scratchboard. Here is one example by Victoria – still in progress.

Victoria’s shells on scratchboard (in progress)

Detail

 

no woman is an island

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Last Spring Wright contacts me about a Palo Verde Beetle I’d just painted for an upcoming bug exhibit at the Idea Museum. I have a sister who is into bugs and anatomy, he says, and this would be a great gift. I respond, You have a sister that’s into bugs? And anatomy?  I should meet her one day. 

Today he brought the family to my studio. I meet everyone including his sister Cady. Within minutes of being introduced we are discussing anatomy. She mentions a short study at Stanford and working with cadavers. Cady Did (they call her, yes like the bug) is completely surprised when she learns the studio visit is arranged for her to receive a graduation gift.

She is home for the holidays, lives in Oregon and will be graduating from Pacific University with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Congratulations Cady. Wright is correct, the gift is fitting. Even that the composition  includes the word surprise (as in Surprise, AZ) feels appropriate.

The whole family pitched in to make this happen. Thanks everyone! It was great to spend an afternoon with all of you.

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Olive, Mead, Cady, Monica, Wright, Jenni, Day and Sandy

No woman, or family member in this bunch, is an island – for sure. As everyone walks out of the studio Sandy comments, I feel like I should get college credit or something for this studio visit. I wonder if she can know how much I appreciate the comment.


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

While having connected to Wright last year, I finally meet him at a studio visit the Breakfast Club hosted at my place last May. He brought along Sandy, his mom. Today my husband and I enjoyed meeting his wife, his daughter and son, and his sisters. Everyone has their hands in the arts in one form or other.

On another note, the Palo Verde Beetle along with several other of my bugs, will be include in a publication to be released in 2017. More on that later.

bringers of order

 

10295788_10152374168442298_6840564971639320488_nI spend a long time looking at this Carpenter Bee though a lighted magnifying glass. The beautiful copper and gold wings determine I will complete my bug series with it. The abdomen is shiny black and has hair only along the edge. Based on what I’ve read I suspect this one is female.

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The external body of this bug appears hard and opaque and I try to imply that with a dark contour, but I get so caught up in detailing the organs – it could appear that I have created another sort of bug. My composition is bright and jewel toned.

I don’t know that this looks like a Carpenter Bee in general – it seems more like an ant, or a wasp. They’re all related – all are of the order of insects called Hymenoptera (hymen – membrane and ptera – wing).

 

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Out of curiosity I research bee mythology and in general, throughout time, bees have a reputation as bringers of order. What does it really mean, that they are dying off these days? Are we closing one era of order to bring in another?

I’ve enjoyed these bug compositions. It’s an unusual tangent for me. My thought these days is that while we study insects in grade school, we should revisit that study as adults. Life varies and is purposeful – it deserves our respect.

tale of a hawk moth

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You landed on my screen door to get photographed and drawn, didn’t you? I ask the striking creature / bug / moth that clings to my screen door one early morning, last week. It’s there all day and doesn’t seem bothered while we enter and exit. First thing the following day, I go to the door and sadly – it’s gone.

Liz, a friend who lives in California, sends a text – Is this the same kind of moth you had on your door yesterday? Did my moth fly to California overnight to visit Liz? One can think that with the photo that is attached.

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I learn (via Facebook where I’d posted the photo) it’s a Hawk Moth. It flies like a hummingbird, Dave writes. Donna comments it’s a White Lined Sphinx Moth an important pollinator, especially of my neighbors Sacred Datura. Nature is amazing, says Nancy. And as though reading my mind Dominique notes … as your reputation spreads among the arthropods you will surely encounter more six-legged friends. Just keep the screen doors deployed. And it’s unanimous – Yes! It arrived to be drawn.

After more reading : I conclude the reason it left at night is because it’s nocturnal and if it did go to California, it did so because it can go without eating for long periods of time.

Here is the Hawk Moth.

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The questions at the start: Do I focus on the external design of the moth? Do I try to include internal anatomy?  I do a bit of both.

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I include its larvae (and anatomy) which is medium to large with a stout body.

IMG_6000When complete the organs I include make it appear like some sort of wired, electrical moth. I’ll leave the wings as they are – dark, dense and lined. And furry – the moth appears to have hair – but in fact it has scales and they keep it warm as it flies at night.IMG_5999

I talk to Robin, a neighbor, and I tell her about the great moth at my door. She looks horrified. I guess some people find them creepy. I don’t. Though I learn something that I’ll keep from her – some Hawk Moths can have a tongue as long as 14 inches. Not this one, I’m sure.

…one more composition for the bug exhibit.

today i am a fly

Today I am a fly – it’s all I could think while painting the one image below.

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Fly (detail) – casein collage on panel, 8 x 8″

From the start of this bug series, I want to paint a house fly. Here is what I know: flies carry over 100 pathogens, they feed on liquid or semi-liquid substances besides solid material (softened by saliva or vomit), and they deposit feces constantly, their entire body is covered with hair (like) projections, and the female is bigger than the male.

Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis come to mind.

I work on the small 8 x 8″ for a good while, but it’s good to be done. I don’t want to be a fly anymore.

Below is a detail of the grasshopper I painted. I don’t know why I didn’t post it before. I painted it for its symbolic association – one who has much to learn.

I also learn I should always photograph a work before I varnish it, otherwise the sheen interferes.

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Grasshopper detail , varnished casein collage on panel, 10 10″

Certain I was only going to make 4 works for this invitational exhibition. I woke up early to organize this post and when I open my front door, this sits on  the screen at eye level – a beautifully symmetrical moth – I am told it’s a hawk moth. Has it arrived to be drawn? I wonder.

While contour line, pattern and texture of the insect are alluring, I would want to include its anatomy. That seems like a challenge.  I’ve already gotten back to my figure studies, but this bug show is not for a good while. I have a few more small panels. I might find time for another bug.

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