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!
While surfin’ around the other day looking at insect photos and reading up on the six-legged, I came across a cool Word Press blog called Confessions of an Entomologist. As I perused the neat posts and stories, one in particular got me thinking about the Dobsonfly, Why World Oceans Day is Sexy. So, one thing lead to another and here is my watercolor of a Dobsonfly. Be sure to check out the links above to read more about the very interesting lifecycle of the Dobsonfly
These hairy little guys are pretty fierce and aggressive predatory flies. From the family Diptera. I’ve enjoyed the Robber Fly in action many times. They seem to be completely unbothered by humans and focused on the hunt. It is not unusual to see one zoom by with another fly or even a dragon fly in his grasp. A patient viewer can observe a Robber Fly as he scope-out and hunts down his prey. One may even get to view as he uses his small proboscis (straw-like mouth part) to liquefy and devour his prey. This painting was done with watercolor and Prismacolor colored pencils on illustration board 11″ x 14″
A single Monarch butterfly goes through 4 stages in it’s lifecycle; 1- egg 2- larva/caterpillar 3- chrysalis/pupa and 4- butterfly. The other lifecycle that Monarchs go through is that of their fascinating and somewhat mysterious migration involving 4 generations. Stick with me while I attempt to explain this in the briefest and most simple terms.
Monarch butterfly Gen. 1 begins his life in Mexico where he starts the migration north. On the way he mates and procreates. His offspring, Gen. 2 continue the migration north, mate and procreate. Gen. 3 flies northward, mates, procreates. Finally we have Gen. 4! This fourth generation Monarch reaches southern Canada around August where he feeds off of the Milkweed plant and does not procreate in order to build up energy. Gen. 4 now begins southward, making the 2 month journey back to Mexico to the very same trees which his great, great grandfather (Gen. 1) emerged and began the process four generations and one year earlier. It’s still a mystery as to how this fourth generation Monarch knows where to go to complete this four generation lifecycle.
This is a type of Digger wasp. Digger wasp females typically capture their prey – in her case crickets – and paralyzes it. She then buries the prey in the prepared nest but not before laying a single egg on it. The emerging larva will feed on the live paralyzed prey, eventually killing it. Latin name, Chlorion lobatum is a very brightly colored metallic green with antennae that curl at the ends.
After watching for a few weeks as an organic sweet potato sprouted and grew leaves on my kitchen counter, I finally planted it outside in a pot. This is what it looked like a few days ago, but today it’s 3x bigger.
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
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.