Thursday, March 04, 2010

Calosoma Auropunctatum

Yup, there he is. This guy goes by several names: as seen above, calosoma auropunctatum; spitting ground beetle; and in Africa - oogpister, which roughly translates to "spits in your eye."

When these beetles feel threatened (which apparently they do quite easily), the turn around, lift up their back end and spray a noxious and painful chemical at you. Lovely, no?

But, what is lovely is this bug's exterior. He is gorgeous. Those spots on his back are actually pits coated in the most impressive copper/gold. Those pits sparkle and shine like nothing else. And depending on the direction of the light, they seem to change color - from a deep copper to a shiny green. Really incredible.

This painting is the result of The Artful Insect, which I took during RISD/CE's winter session with instructor and Natural Science Illustration Advisor, Amy Bartlett Wright. Amy is an amazing instructor and I loved every second of this class.

Amy brought in her own collection of over 500 insects (!) and let us each pick the one we wanted to draw. The second I saw this oogpister, I knew he was the one. It was love at first sight. We used binocular stereoscopic zoom microscopes and fiber optic lighting and over the course of 3 Saturdays (21 hours) drew and painted our new friends.

I learned so much and am very grateful that Amy let me borrow the bug so that when my new microscope arrives in a couple of days (!) I can add the finishing touches to my painting, like the tiny hairs on his legs.

Here's the technical stuff: 140lb Arches hot-pressed paper, and mostly Winsor Newton watercolor paints. I wish I could remember the mix I used for the warm brownish first wash, but I was just experimenting till I found the right shade. The black, however is the standard Alazarin Crimson mixed with Pthalo Green. For me, squeezing the paints into the well, mixing them together while all creamy and then adding enough water to make thin it out a bit works best.

The spots/pits were first painted with Twinkling H2o's (mustard green) because they have such a nice sparkle. But it was too dark, so Amy suggested creating highlights and adding depth by putting a swipe of white acrylic along the bottom of each pit, then when that dried, adding a bright yellow acrylic over the white. I couldn't believe what a huge effect that little bit of paint had.

His actual size is 10"x6".

I hope you like him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

5:45 AM  
Anonymous sunset canvas said...

Awesome post, thanks a so much for sharing!

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Brilliant picture, it's so life like!

6:16 AM  
Anonymous said...

Great stuff, this is fast becoming my favourite blog!

5:59 AM  

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