Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sphinx Moth

Sphinx Moth
colored pencils on paper
© Paula Pertile

Wow,  this was really different subject matter for me! I was inspired to do this illustration by an amazing creature who's been visiting my jasmine plant by the front porch for several evenings. At first I thought it was some kind of hummingbird. It looks like one. It hovers like one. But . . . something was wrong, and I couldn't put my finger on it. So I googled. And sure enough, there is an actual "Hummingbird Moth"! But mine is actually the very similar "Sphinx Moth".

Both moths come from those awful, scary, creepy but also cool, green horned caterpillars. If you've ever grown tomatoes, you've probably seen them. One variety is in fact a tomato worm, and the other is a tobacco worm. Again, very similar, but with some fiddly differences.

For a moth, this is HUGE. I mean, if I thought it was a hummingbird, you can imagine. I've never seen one before, so I'm not sure why it showed up here all of a sudden. Of course I took science in school, and learned all about caterpillars, and cocoons, and butterflies and all that - but something about this one, and the transformation from that particularly frightening horned worm into such a spectacular flying thing has given me a newfound respect and feel of awe and wonder about Nature, and all the wonderfully amazing things that go on out there in the yard when we're not looking. I will be looking at it all with a slightly different eye now, I think.

I did this with 99.9% Prismacolors and one black Polychromo (mostly because I was running low on Black Prismacolors), on the new Strathmore colored pencil paper. I really like this new paper a lot to draw on. The texture is nice and even, and it has a crisp feel to it. Its better than regular bristol, where the texture (depending on what brand and grade you get) can sometimes be uneven. The only slightly negative thing about it is how thin it is. This wasn't a problem for me with this piece, but I also didn't do any heavy burnishing, or use solvents, or any other 'special effects'. I don't normally do any of that anyway (except for a little burnishing here and there), so I don't anticipate this ever being an issue for me.

But when I stood the piece up periodically to step back and have a look (just propped up against a lamp or something), the paper really sagged. Usually, a piece of bristol, or Stonehenge or anything else will be able to stand up straight. So, this is pretty wimpy. Again, it doesn't bother me, but I'm just sharing, in case anyone is curious. This paper is relatively inexpensive, so that may be why.
I bought mine here at Dick Blick. No one else seems to carry it yet, for some reason.

So that's about it for me, here, for now. I think the snow has finally melted just about everywhere, and everyone is having Spring now, finally. We here in drought-stricken California are already worrying about crispy lawns and thirsty trees and critters. I find myself thinking about all the birdies and crawling things, wondering how they get along when no one is watering as much. The snails all come out and frolic when I do turn on the hose or lawn sprinklers, and the birds are happy too. (Geez, I've turned a new weird corner if I'm worried about worms and bugs and stuff!) Like homeless kitties aren't enough.

To think I've probably unknowingly crushed some of these in the past makes me sad. Be careful where you step out there! 

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