caterpillar

Hungry Caterpillars and more

My recipe for sanity during these simultaneously turbulent and boring times relies heavily on variety. You may have noticed that I go from detailed portraits to mixed media madness and writing to nature journaling to everyday sketching, and then I throw it all into the pot of the blog and hope for the best.

Today I assemble here pieces of the last few days that are all local to my shelter-in-place sphere.

Jameshouse

Like the view up a steep hill across the road from my house, where my neighbors the James live. Out here in the country you have to wait a bit to catch any humans to sketch, and then there’s trees in the way.

martinray2

Mostly I just see my friends on Zoom these days to chat and sometimes to sketch. But I realized this week that out here on the countryside two people at least can get together to walk and sketch, keeping just enough distance to follow the Covid protocol, but still share the same scene. It felt almost like a forbidden pleasure to spend a couple hours with Bettina in this way!

hungrycaterpillar

My friends know that I’m a bit overboard about my pipevine plants, the caterpillars and butterflies that do their metamorphosis thing in my studio garden every year. Well, here’s what they’re up to right now. The butterflies are laying piles of eggs on the leaves. And there’s the fruit, this one 4 inches long and clearly a favorite meal for the hungry caterpillars.

pipevine_matilija

Last year at this time I sketched them, along with the poppies that are now beginning to bloom again.

hungrycaterpillarhidden

Here’s a Where’s Waldo picture for you! How many caterpillars do you see? Look down into the leaves.

Back Yard Nature Journaling

It’s raining hard now of course, but earlier this week I treated myself to an hour in my studio garden without feeling compelled to pull any weeds! But I’m not one for idleness, so I found the largest Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar munching away on a vine, and brought him and the vine to the garden bench where I had my sketch stuff.

He/she hardly paused in the munch munching while I held the vine in one hand and sketched/painted with the other, observing up close the wonder of that marvelous insect body with all it’s colored spikes and feelers and legs it employed in the balancing act of moving the fat body sections along the stem. I have a hard enough time coordinating the movement of my four limbs. It’s hard to imagine all those parts moving in concert!

pipevine_matilija

The leaf was almost gone by the time I finished the painting and moved to the Matilija Poppies which were fluttering their ballerina tutus in the wind. And then I added the “adult”, parent? of the caterpillar. They were fluttering around the garden too quickly so I’ll admit I pulled out my phone and got a picture to source the image of that beautiful midnight blue and black butterfly.

There was no idleness anywhere around on this spring afternoon. The air was filled with bird song, that monotonous cooing of the doves and loud buzzing of scores, hundreds? of bumblebees.

Well actually there was the idleness of Phil the cat, who dozed while I sketched and later woke up to get his picture taken and claim some credit for the art.

philhelps

My Brain Child

brainchild

Acrylic inks, Citra Solved collage papers on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

My brain child is wired for great complexity

all those filaments and fibers conspiring

to make me brilliant one day and a fool the next

to utter great truths or spew wormy banalities

My brain child is a hothouse of growing things

hungry caterpillars chomping on leaves

threatening to break out and run free

Will they embarrass me or

earn me a reputation for a fertile imagination?

Oops! Here comes another!  Look out everyone!

caterpillar

Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar, picture taken 5 minutes ago in my studio garden

One never has to look far for the source of the ideas served up by the imagination.  I often don’t see the connection until a day or week after the art is made.  I’ve been visiting our hungry caterpillars each day, touching them on the head so they throw up the bright yellow flags!  I hadn’t realized that they’d become my brain children!