Monday, August 18, 2014

In Loving Memory of Louie, a Terrier

People sometimes ask me to paint a picture of their beloved pets.  In this case, Louie died unexpectedly when he was quite young.  Fortunately, his mistress and her relatives had many photos of Louie, including one that was perfect for me to work from.

I started by using acrylic graphs to enlarge the photo.

After I had drawn Louie carefully on tracing paper over the left graph, I used a drawing pencil to blacken the back of the tracing paper.  You can see the blackened back through the tracing paper.  I blackened most of the head area because I knew I wanted to draw in a lot of details.  I laid the tracing paper on 140 wt. cold-pressed watercolor paper and  traced over the lines I wanted as a guide.

Once I had a light pencil outline of Louie, I painted over the outline with a pale wash of Cobalt Blue.

In the yellowish tan areas, I used a mixture of colors, mostly Burnt Sienna and Quinacridone Gold.  If an area such as the inside of the ears seemed to need a red cast, I added a bit of Quinacridone Red.

For Louie's eyes, I used Quinacridone Gold, then Burnt Sienna.  I made the black for the iris using Burnt Sienna and Cobalt blue.  In a few places I mixed the Burnt Sienna with Ultramarine Blue.  I reserved the white highlight in the eyeballs with Maskit.

Several times I traced over Louie's head with marker on tracing paper to be sure I was happy with the placement of the shadows.

I played around with the eyes for several sessions.  Eyes are very important in any animal portrait.

My daughter suggested that the ears needed to be a trifle bigger.  A line as slender as a sixteenth of an inch can make a big difference in getting an improved likeness.

You probably have noticed that the first layers of paint on Louie's face are Cobalt Blue.  As I added more layers, I added Burnt Sienna to the blue to get Louie's black spots.

Louie's favorite blanket was red and gray striped.  I simplified the pattern.

I didn't have his blanket but I had another striped blanket.  I draped it on a stand so I would know the likely directions for the stripes.

The blanket took a fair amount of time to paint since I had to keep in mind that the stripes would appear smaller in the distance.  I was inventing as I painted.

After I finished the blanket, I painted the final details of fur on Louie's body.  The  painting is 18 inches (45.72 cm) by 14 inches (35.56).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Brukner Nature Center, Butterfly Transit, Friday, August 1, 2014

I feel as though I am taking a quiz as I post this blog.  I have a stack of field guides beside me.  Again, I didn't walk on the butterfly transit, but Phil Shafer sent me his photos.  Please, if someone finds an identification error on this post, let me know.

I'll start with the photos that I am sure of.  This is a Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)Wingspan 3.0-4.0 inches (7.6-10.2 cm)  The only butterflies similarly colored in our area are swallowtails and they have tail-like appendages.

Next, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) Wingspan 3.5-5.5 inches (8.9-14.0 cm)  This is a rather ragged specimen but the striping on the wing is a good clue.  The photo was taken at an unusual angle.  Butterflies are not cooperative models.

Silver-spotted Skippers are easy to identify because of the big white-silver spot on the hind wing. The orange above the silver spot is another clue.  Its scientific name...Epargyreus clarus, Wingspan 1.75-2.40   inches (4.4-6.1 cm)

That's it for the butterflies I immediately identified.   Below is one I think is a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui  Wingspan 1.75-2.40 inches (4.4-6.1 cm)  The spots on the upper wingtip and those eyespots on the underside of the hind wing are the basis for this guess.

This butterfly is in the Sulphur family.  There is a dark spot on the upper wing and the sunlight shining through that wing shows that the upper side of the wing has a wide band along its edge. I also see a small eye encircled by orangish red on the underside of the hind wing.  There seems to be a patch of orange on the front wing where the hind wing passes over it.  Maybe an Orange Sulphur?

Is the butterfly below a Hackberry?  It seems to be rather small and I know Hackberries are often found near people and their possessions.  I am  not sure the pattern on the wings is right.  After looking at photos in the field guides of the Hackberry Emperor and the Tawny Emperor, I am leaning toward calling this a Tawny Emperor.  Both are commonly called Hackberry butterflies because the food plant for both is the Common Hackberry, a tree with a distinctive warty bark.

And what kind of skipper is the one below?  The lack of distinctive color pattern and the way it holds its wings makes me think skipper.  The knobs on its antennae also seem to be like those of skippers. 

The following two photos are of the same plant.  The first shows the rolled leaf.  The second shows the caterpillar that was in the roll.

Ruth looks for these every time we walk the transit.  I can't remember which butterfly this caterpillar develps into. The caterpillar eats wild indigo or false indigo.  I can't remember if it eats both.  I did note that according to the wildflower field guides both plants are in the Baptisia family.

I know the insects that like Milkweed (Asclepias) better.

Below are three young Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) nymphs and one adult.  Because they belong to the order Hemiptera, Suborder Heteroptera, they don't pupate but molt as they grow until after the last molt they become an adult with the adult coloration and and body parts.

This caterpillar is also common on milkweed.  Called the Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar, it pupates over winter in a cocoon and emerges as a nondescript tan moth in the spring.