no woman is an island

I could have titled this post: The Mud Dauber, at the Wedding Party.

The doorbell rings.

Sergio, the new neighbor, stands in my front patio holding a plastic cup. Sergio is newly wed (only a few days newly wed at this point). He and his wife Terrah, recently move on to our street.

Look! We found this at our reception! He says with excitement. I look into the cup and see a wasp of some sort. Do you know I paint bugs? Yes! That’s why I am bringing him to you.
We’d like to commission a small painting! 

It’s beautiful, I tell him.  Do you know what it is? He responds, No, that’s your job! 

I plan to research and identify the small, thin-waisted, golden-yellow and warm-black wasp. I understand bright colors signify a more aggressive species…well let’s see what I discover.

Yes, this wasp can be aggressive, but usually only when provoked. I learn a few other surprising things.

It’s a Mud Dauber from the Hymenoptera order. Derived from Ancient Greek hymen means membrane and pteron is wing. They have two pairs of thin, often see through, membranous wings. The hind wings connect to the fore wings by a series of hooks, considered married wings in flight. Note: Hymen, also Ancient Greek, is the god of marriage ceremonies, inspiring feasts and songs.

Two other features are their chewing mouth parts and large compound eyes. These wasps build their nests from mud (hence mud dauber). Did I mention Sergio and Terrah bought a newly remodeled house. He didn’t care for the layout of the yard(s). They are in the process of redesigning and completing as much of the work possible, on their own.

The symbolism of the wasp (happy to report):
Team work
New start
New goals
New doors

You probably couldn’t find a more appropriate symbol representing new beginnings, on your wedding day –  congratulations Sergio and Terrah!

And thanks! for the commission.

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

no woman is an island

Yesterday I spend the day carefully packing 2 works. Finally, both Tarantula Wasp and Praying Mantis will be making their way to Missouri.

Once upon a time (last Spring to be exact) I had work hanging at ASU.
Krystal connected in March…

My mother is on vacation from Minnesota and texted me some of your images at ASU. I love them. I love bugs and bats and anatomy and maps and you have put them all together in the most beautiful way.

A week later another email from Krystal…

Interestingly enough, my step daughter was also at ASU this week visiting her boyfriend, and she sent pictures of your work to my husband so he could show me. He was in Colorado and came back last night, so we were having coffee this morning and I said “oh, I have to show you these pictures my mom sent you of this artist in Arizona” and I showed him the first picture and he picked up his phone and showed me the same piece of artwork on his phone. So two people we are related to, from different parts of the country, both traveled to ASU in the same week and sent us the same photos, because your artwork made them think of me.

What are the odds of this happening!?


Soon another email…

I would like to purchase the Tarantula Wasp and the Praying Mantis. I love them both, I love their predatory nature. I had never heard of a tarantula wasp, but they are amazing. Have you heard of a cicada killer?

No I’ve never heard of a cicada killer. I look it up and learn it is as creepy as the tarantula wasp!

mantis1While the wasp is already scheduled to show to June, in April an opportunity presents itself to show the mantis (to September). Krystal agrees to wait for both.

The next email (cracks me up)…

I hate to wait for the praying mantis, but I have always wanted to have a piece on loan with my name on it. So if you will send me a photo of it with the tag, then I will suck it up and wait.

…and you did Krystal.

Synopsis: No Woman is an Island.
2 bugs, 2 art venues, 2 museum visits, 3 seasons, 3 states, a mother, a step daughter, a boyfriend, a husband and wife and a cup of coffee… #gottahaveart

Thanks again Krystal. And thanks for letting me share our correspondence. It is a good story. Enjoy the insects! They’ll be arriving soon.

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


I really knew I wanted to be Adam, because Adam was the first man. Ant I chose because, if there’s a nuclear explosion, the ants will survive.   – Adam Ant

Myrmecology: from the greek, myrmex is ant and logos is study. Early myrmecologists thought ant society to be an ideal form of society and sought to find solutions to human problems by studying them.  Their succes in thriving is attributed to their social organization, ability to modify habits, tap resources and defend themselves.

IMG_7234The ant is the subject of this small mixed media panel. It feels unnatural to paint only one. Imagine that she is a worker ant searching for food whereupon finding it she returns to the colony to tell the other worker ants.

Last summer we had ants that found their way to the honey I keep on the table. I followed the trail that came in from a plug on the wall. Not good. All summer I tried to get rid of them. I understand now they communicate with pheromones, sound and touch. I’m wondering should they return, can I annoy them with vibration or odor of some sort.

The ants typically seen by humans are wingless females. They never reproduce. Among other things, their job includes foraging for food, caring for the queen’s offspring, working on the nest, and protecting the community. Ant colonies are headed by the queen, whose function in life is to lay thousands of eggs that will ensure the survival of the colony. Male ants have one main role—to mate with her. After they have performed this function, they die.

I do enjoy learning ants have muscles. Their legs are strong and allow them to run quickly. They are able to lift 20x their own body weight. Ants have 2 stomachs. one holds the food for itself, the other is to be shared with other ants. Crushed ants omits an ‘alarm’ pheromone (they also have ‘propaganda’ pheromones, to confuse enemy ants). An ant brain has about 250,000 brain cells – collectively a colony of 50,000 has the same brain cells as a human brain.

Surprisingly I find this everyday creature to be particularly enjoyable to study and detail. She’s pretty, I have to admit. And the idea of the colony, a queen and her army …intrigues.

Ants symbolize all good things coming with time and effort – working with diligence and with others to forge a life. I get those myrmecologists.


celebrating insects @ the i.d.e.a. museum


The i.d.e.a. Museum presents Jeepers Creepers: BUGS In Art
A Celebration of Insects (for children and adults)

The gallery will be filled with fun, artistic bugs that are inspirational and informative for all ages. Put on a bee suit and do a waggle dance or step into a make-believe world with giant bugs! You can even compare your size to extinct Paleo bugs and experience over 40 artworks made of all types of materials including video, watercolor, mixed-media and fabric by 10 different artists.

Here are a few samples of some of the artwork:


Barrett Klein, Damselflies, , Digital



Barrett Klein, UnEarth, modified globe, soil, salt and paint



Andrea Uravitch, Cicada Shell, Mixed media

Uravitch_Andrea_3OrangeCicada (2)

Andrea Uravitch, Orange Cicada, Mixed media


Jeanie Pratt, Jewel Beetle Teapot, Sterling silver, fine silver, 18K gold, jewel (Buprestid) beetle wings, ammonite, peridot, Mexican opal, dichroic glass beads, stainless steel

Jewel Beetle Teapot

Jeanie Pratt, Jewel Beetle Teapot, Sterling silver, fine silver, 18K gold, jewel (Buprestid) beetle wings, ammonite, peridot, Mexican opal, dichroic glass beads, stainless steel

purple hairstreak copy

Georgette Rosberg, Purple Hairstreak, (butterfly) Color photos


blue dasher

Georgette Rosberg, Blue Dasher (dragonfly), Color photo

photo 1

Joan Danziger, Honey Beetle, Metal, glass, acrylic paint‏

photo 2

Joan Danziger, Patchwork Beetle, Metal, fused glass, frit,dichroic glass


Monica Aissa Martinez, House fly, Mixed media collage on panel


Monica Aissa Martinez, Hawkmoth, Mixed media collage on panel

Edgar Cardenas includes video work that focuses on understanding the backyard as an ecological space just like any other environment. ↓

There will be plenty of opportunities to test your knowledge and learn all about bugs through fun and challenging puzzles, games and art-making activities or you can take the challenge to debunk myths about bugs and insects while learning facts like:

  • How insects help us and are beneficial to the environment
  • The different parts of insects
  • What insects eat
  • Insect homes
  • Life cycles of insects
  • How insects communicate
  • Insects that are edible
  • Insects that are extinct and newly discovered species

Featured artists:

Edgar Cardenas, Phoenix AZ
Eric Carle, Key Largo FL Courtesy of the Eric Carle Museum
Desi Constance, Phoenix AZ
Denise A. Currier, Mesa AZ
Joan Danziger, Washington DC
Wesley Fleming, Ashfield, MA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Joel Floyd, University Park MD
Elaine Hultgren, Phoenix AZ
Tara Jaggi, Pleasantville PA
Barrett Klein, La Crosse WI
Mindy Lighthipe, The Villages FL
Monica Aissa Martinez, Phoenix AZ
Karen Paust, Wellsville PA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Jeanie Pratt, Nipomo CA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Andrea V. Uravitch, Washington DC, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Georgette Rosberg, Tucson AZ
Emelee Van Zile, courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge

Specimens and fossils:
High-resolution images, exhibition activities and content & specimens from Frank Hasbrouck Insect Collection, Education and Outreach department at Arizona State University
Arizona Museum of Natural History, collaborating to loan insect collections, insect fossils and bugs preserved in amber

WHO: i.d.e.a. Museum
WHAT: Jeepers Creepers : Bugs in Art
WHERE: in the Whiteman Family Exhibition Gallery
WHEN: Oct 9 to Jan 25


For more info about exhibition, events, admission fee, hours of operation → The Idea Museum

* One photo from each artist posted here will direct you to their web site.
Do take the time to visit all the artists listed and their websites – the work is varied and wonderful!