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.