Harlequin Beetle- Insect Art

by Mindy on May 6, 2012

in 52/52 Challenge, Costa Rica, Insect Art, Uncategorized

52/52 Painting Challenge Week # 17

"Harlequin Beetle" Watercolor on Vellum; MLighthipe ©2012

It is almost 20 years ago that I decided to give up my profession as a handweaver and become a botanical artist and natural science illustrator. When I graduated from college with my BFA and MA in Art and Art Education my focus had been on the Fiber Arts. I was into shearing sheep, spinning wool, growing natural dyes and handweaving fabric on an 8 harness floor loom. I traveled around the country and did craft fairs selling my handwoven scarves, shawls and clothing for about 10 years. Weaving is intensive labor and I finally decided to change my focus in the late 1980's. The Harlequin Beetle was one of the reasons  that pushed me into painting and away from making fabric. I was traveling in Costa Rica and met an entomologist named Richard Whitten. He had an insect museum, Jewels of the Rainforest, that had over a million specimens in it. The harlequin beetle was one of my favorites. I realized that as an artist what I was really drawn to was color, texture and pattern. Most people are not "bug lovers". They freakout about stinging, sucking, hairy, 6 legged, crawling , flying critters. I have always loved them! When I look at the pattern on the elytra (outer shell of the beetle) of the harlequin beetle I imagine a tribal mud cloth from Africa. I can never get enough of the color combinations and intricate patterns. I no longer weave, although I still have one of my looms, all my yarns and weaving equipment. Perhaps one day I will get back into it but for now my fascination remains with the creepy crawlers!

How do feel about bugs? Which one is your favorite?

If you love bugs….. think about coming on our BUGS, Beasts & Botanicals Tour in 2013. Stay tuned for the itinerary.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail May 7, 2012 at 12:54 am

As a science teacher, I would joke around and say that the only good bug is a dead bug under a microscope. While I have never been particularly fond of handling insects, I find them absolutely fascinating. I love the intricate details, the colors, the totally cool body parts, and variety of sizes. I am always amazed how "well-engineered" they are. My favorites are butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, lady bugs, "interesting" beetles, as well as house (cellar??) Daddy long legged spiders. If a long legged spider is hanging out on the wall within arms reach, and you touch one of their "feelers" they go scampering away in a jiffy!  Ants are interesting to observe, but alas, do not belong in my kitchen.

Anita May 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Hi Mindy, haven't ever seen the Harlequin beetle myself, but my very favorite has to be the Praying Mantis–quite the interesting behavior–once, years ago, my mother while returning from the clothesline discovered a hatching of baby praying mantis on a weed in the back yard.It was fascinating to watch those minute little things scurrying off to who knows where. I'll never forget it- a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I always watch for them around the yard or anywhere else I am.

Anita May 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Oh yes, another one–the Daddy Long Legs–some years ago, we owned a business in a small country village, where we lived in an attached house behind it–There was a small bathroom which was original to the house, and I discovered a Daddy Long Legs living there. Because I was the only one who usually used that bathroom, the two of us co-existed there for several years (with me carefully vacuuming up her multiple offspring regularly)–We sold the business, and during the evening before the day we closed there were a number of people in the house while we did inventory of the store–long story short, when we finally went back to go to bed for the last night there, I found my old friend, smashed in the bathroom sink. I was heartbroken of course, but it was sure to happen sooner or later after we left.

Mindy May 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Oh Dear! Daddy Long Legs squished! Thanks Anita and Gail for the stories about your favorite insects. I love praying mantises also. They seem to be the one insect that can look you in the eye. A little creepy but super cool. Spiders are not my favorite critters… they either move too slow or too fast for me. They seem unpredictable but are still fascinating.  I am currently working on a painting with orchid bees in it. They are AMAZING! I'll post it when I am done.

deborah May 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I love bugs too…I save them every chance I get….I like dragonflys, butterflys, beetles….just to name a few, like snakes, and lizards too…

Mindy May 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Hi Deborah,
Welcome to my blog. Glad to find another bug lover out there. I like lizards A LOT! Snakes are not super high on the list. I am not afraid of them I just find critters with legs more appealing.

Patricia Wynne May 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

The beetle on vellum is very successful! The warmth of the vellum is a perfect ground! Brava!

Mindy May 12, 2012 at 11:33 am

Major Thanks Patricia!!!! I can’t wait to see your thylasine finished!!!!! I am really liking this vellum! Cheers!

Wrenaissance Art May 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Lovely painting and enjoyable reminiscences in the comments! 

Mindy May 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

I agree Wren. I love it when people share their experiences…… especially when it comes to bugs!

Laura July 24, 2012 at 7:02 am

Love your little story Mindy….for me I've always loved the common lightning bug :) 

Mindy July 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks Laura1 I remember that my first “pet” was an ant. I named him Rodger. When my folks couldn’t find me they would look in the back yard and I was there, playing in the dirt. Some things never change!!!!!

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