Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Moths

     This week's Summer Solstice brought the excitement of moths. Yes, moths. On a short walk Wednesday morning I came across the largest moth I've ever seen. The wingspan was pushing 4 inches.

antheraea oculea - Oculea Silkmoth

     It was very exciting to see something so beautiful taking rest at my eye level in a short Ponderosa Pine. I felt like I was seeing something I shouldn't, a creature of the night caught sleeping in the open.

     After that experience I wanted to set up a sheet and light in the evening to try to attract more moths for close inspection and photographs. Last night the kids and I set up our potential viewing area. We snapped a few very mediocre shots of some moths that would have come just as readily to our porch light.

     Dejected and scheming to procure a more powerful light and a whiter sheet I settled in for the evening. A few minutes later my wife heard a rattling sound outside our bedroom window. I was, of course, dispatched to handle the disturbance. Amidst the toys, bikes, and art supplies on the porch was a struggling moth of decent size. I coaxed it gently from against the house and held it loosely in my hand as it fluttered wildly. My oldest daughter retrieved my camera and I took a few shots while holding the now calm moth as it stood content on my thumb. 

smerinthus cerisyi - One-eyed Sphinx

      After we had a long look I released our fat little friend into the air with a push. I felt a tug at my skin upon release. Fearing the worst, a leg segment left behind in a knuckle's crease perhaps, I examined my hand under the porch light. There I found three neatly laid eggs. Looking further I found two more on another finger.

     I was amazed and humbled to have been entrusted with these tiny pale green jewels containing future moth lives. I gently removed the eggs and deposited them neatly on the nearby vegetation in hopes that their mother's trust had not been misplaced.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Recent Paintings

    The following images are from a new painting series I started recently.
     I would say that I've always loved painting but honestly there was a long period of time during which I couldn't bring myself to paint. Part of this block was due to how I had come to view the process. After my early undergrad experience as a painting major I had become overwhelmed by the dreaded and sacred white canvas, the purity of the materials, and the deliberate nature in which I was trained to work.
     At the suggestion of a friend and colleague, I abandoned all respect for the process and materials. I forgot about fine stretched canvas and gesso, earth-toned under-paintings, and thick luxurious oils, and picked up some paper, old craft store acrylics, cheap watercolors, and disposable brushes. I set to work on small pieces that could be literally taped to a board, actually an old oil painting on panel to ensure complete sacrilege.In an effort to integrate my love of drawing I also added ink pens and colored pencil. I am pleased with the results so far. I'm able to complete most images in a couple of hours or less. It has been very liberating to take ownership of a means of expression I had previously dreaded.
     I have attempted to arrange these images chronologically, earliest to latest. The series includes all but three works that have found other homes. Color accuracy is a slight issue due to lack of controlled lighting but these are near representations. All works are smaller than 8x10". I'm still working out titles for these.