Beetle Calligraphy

Chalcosoma Callig small Chalcosoma Callig2 small

I enjoy dabbling in Calligraphy and hand lettering.  Here is a piece that I made a few years ago for my husband’s birthday.  It says Chalcosoma – a beautiful genus of beetle, which at the time husband was raising.

Here’s a quick story of how I became interested in Calligraphy and lettering:  Some years ago I was working on a sketchbook specifically dedicated to beetles.  Each beetle drawing was accompanied by it’s scientific name, which I hand lettered (as best as I could at the time).  Every day I would create a beetle illustration to post on Flickr.  A wonderful friend and neighbor of mine, Orrin (and Gayle) would critique my work.  I love a good honest critique, and always enjoyed the input.  So one day Orrin told me that if I stepped up the quality of the lettering a bit it would make the beetle illustrations all the more aesthetic. He was (and often is) right.   Orrin was about 83 at that time and I have a great deal of admiration and respect for him and his advise.  So I heeded his words and set out to improve my lettering, which soon lead me to calligraphy.  I’ve been doing it ever since, and Orrin approves.  Thank you, Orrin!

Insect Girl

Insect Princess

So Vani suggested that I paint something uhh a little less technical.  He told me to begin with only paintbrush and paints.  NO pre-drawing, NO planning and NO thinking.  Grrrrrr!  I worked at it for days and I’m still not sure if I like it or if it’s finished. She went through several incarnations before settling on this one.   She is similar to the Lilliputians that I draw in my sketchbooks, but they rarely meet canvas and paints.  Any suggestions-positive or negative- are welcome.  The painting can use a name too….

Rainbow Scarab Beetle

Phaneus vindex small

This colorful lil Rainbow Scarab is a Dung Beetle. Latin name Phaneus vindex.  I’ve been fortunate enough to witness these guys in action on numerous occasions. I’ll never forget the first time I saw one. I was outside in North Florida with my dog, who ah, welll. . . had just created a small dung pile.  Within minutes I heard a loud buzzing (like a very loud bee).  I looked, and to my surprise I saw this shiny, huge beetle buzz right by us and land on the dung pile.  She was so vibrant and shiny green that I just had to watch as this beautiful beetle effortlessly pulled that log of dung down under the soil within seconds, leaving only what looked like an ant hill.  I later learned that she lays her eggs on the excrement where the larva eventually will feed on it until they eclose (hatch) into a full size beetle.  Cool eh!?

Painted with Liquitex acrylics, detailed with Prismacolor colored pencils

 

 

An Exotic Long-Armed Scarab Beetle (Euchirus longimanus)

Euchirus longimanus (small)

One might notice that among the insects I paint I clearly favor the beetle (order – coleoptera).  It’s actually a pretty common favoritism among entomologists and insect enthusiasts.  A famous biologist/naturalist, JBS Haldane once surmised that the Creator must be inordinately fond of beetles.  That said, I offer you a few tidbits about the beetle: The earth is home to easily 350,000+ different species of beetle.  Beetles are a diverse group of insects and inhabit nearly every ecological niche on the planet.  Most can fly and typically have four wings.  The outer two wings are hardened (elytra) and serve as a body cover to protect the flying wings and the abdomen. Beetles begin their life as an egg which hatch into a larvae or grub that goes through a metamorphosis which turns this worm-like creature into an adult with six legs and four wings.  New species are still being discovered regularly.
Exotic beetles are such a fascination in Europe and Japan that they are collected much like coins or stamps. Some enthusiasts often breed them.

This Euchirus longimanus  painting was created using Liquitex acrylic paints, and Prismacolor pencils.

Euchirinae subfamily of the Scarabs is found from Turkey to the Himalayas through much of Indonesia. This subfamily is characterized by the males having very long front legs with a few spines and is from Indonesia.  The females have normal length front legs.

My Set-Up for Insect Illustrations

cicada set-up (1)

This is a pinned cicada mounted on a cork that swivels on a ball and socket.  The device is called a posing stage.  This setup is so I don’t have to handle the specimen as I am notoriously breaking legs and antennae.  (See posing stage photo below)

bold jumper set-up

This is a stereoscopic microscope or dissecting microscope. (1960’s)  It is connected to the monitor which is showing a  Bold Jumper spider.

cicada set-up (10)

This image shows a better view of the posing stage from Bioquip Products.  This enables me to move the specimen all around by the handle without having to touch it.

bold jumper 3 set-up

1960’s dissecting microscope.

A Trio of Stag Beetles Theme

These stag beetle drawings are the first in a series of co-op themes created by Vani and I. Vani is my life long best friend, and we have created many drawing themes in the past. For this theme we chose 3 Stag beetles (Dorcus titanus, Odontolabis spectabilis, and Prosopocoilus occipitalis) to draw. The first three images are Vani’s creations and the last image is mine.
Stop by and check out Vani’s blog, Captain Primate to see more of his awesome artwork and insect collections.