Bombus and the blueberry

This is a continuation of an earlier post that documented my intuitive process to embrace and abstract the bee that was listed on the endangered species list January 11, 2017.

The posting was titled Embracing Bombus Affinis. Here is one more experiment.

In the experimental piece below I focused on the transparency of the wings.Through the wings you can see the bees hairs on the back of his abdomen. You can also see the flora in the background and through his wings. FYI- a favorite of the Rusty Patch bumble bee is blueberries. Blueberries are one of my favorites too. There is always a box of blueberries in our refrigerator. I hate the thought of my blueberries being pollinated in a lab.

Bombus Affinis VI  30” X 44”

Bombus Affinis VI

30” X 44”

I am not sure if showing the transparency is necessary or if it bogs down the energy with too much information.

If you want to help insure our food remains pollinated as nature intended see below-

Limit the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers whenever possible or avoid them entirely. Pesticides cause lethal and sublethal effects to bees and other pollinators.

 

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/rpbb/factsheetrpbb.html

The ghost print

The ghost print

Bombus Affinis - looking back and comparing

I ran into the print making room to drop off some new paper. I took the opportunity to see how the last 6 compared to each other and how multiple bees might look together. I will do one more experiment and the plan the grouping.

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I am really liking these 6 today. I don’t think they are your typical rendering of a bee. Any thoughts? I am glad I took the time to look at these as a group. They are inspiring me to make several different bees from different views in this same technique and showing them together. I am getting some interesting ideas of how to do it.

i will do one more experiment first.  

Embracing Bombus Affinis

I have decided to make a large monotype of the first bee in the US to be listed on the endangered species list. I was looking online for a photo that would accurately depict the Bombus Affinis. Searching, I came across the USGS site. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a science bureau within the US Department of the Interior. The USGS provides science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. It is a great resource. They have developed a Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program. Part of the program is to develop identification tools for native bee species. Taking and collecting accurate and detailed photos of the native bees. The over 4,000 images are freely available for the public to use. Looking at these up close detailed photos I was amazed to see how beautiful these tiny beings are. Their beauty rivals that of any creature on the planet. I looked at bees for an hour, in awe at their stunning uniqueness. The opportunity to work from such close up photos is exciting. It will also be challenging, I normally work from bad photos. I like poor quality photos because I don’t want to get bogged down by the details. My work is about the physical or emotional energy. These photos are works of art already. I have in my head what I want my abstraction to look like. I am just not exactly sure I know how I am going to achieve it. Step one is to experiment with my process and technique and develop a mark making that captures the elegance, majesty and energy of these tiny busy beasts.

Below are the first four days of experimenting. It has been a struggle to loosen up and not get bogged down by the details. The last one I like the most, I was just making marks and not worrying about if it resembled Bombus Affinis. That works best for me.

Bombus Affinis I  30” X 44” watercolor monotype

Bombus Affinis I

30” X 44” watercolor monotype

Day 1-

When working in color, the ink looks much darker and muted on the plate than when printed on paper. My first impression of Bombus Affinis I was that the paint was too heavy, too bright just  too much all the way around. The ghost was too light. I want my Bombus to express the lightness, fragility and majesty  of the bee. 

Wing detail from Bombus Affinis I

Wing detail from Bombus Affinis I

Bombus Affinis I ghost  30” X 44” watercolor monotype

Bombus Affinis I ghost

30” X 44” watercolor monotype

Day 2-

I like the big black brush strokes, the antennae, but I do not like that both wings have the same weight. I want the back wing to be in more motion and fainter. When I look back at the work from day one, I am feeling better about parts of it. I like the wings and the last sections of his abdomen. Below are some close up shots of the parts I like of both days’ experiments.

Bombus Affinis II 30” X 44” watercolor monotype

Bombus Affinis II 30” X 44” watercolor monotype

Day 2 antenna

Day 2 antenna

Day 3 - layering the different processes. I am closer to what I want but I am not there yet.

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Bombus Affinis III

Bombus Affinis III

A favorite moment in Bomus Affinis III  a tail, leg and two wings

A favorite moment in Bomus Affinis III

a tail, leg and two wings

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Bombus Affinis III ghost

Bombus Affinis III ghost

Bombus Affinis IV

Bombus Affinis IV

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Bombus Affinis V

Bombus Affinis V

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Day 4

Below are some moments I especially like. Today anyway.

Finally I am loosening up. I want an image of the bee’s energy - I want the life, movement and energy of a fuzzy pollinator even if he is endangered. I do not want a drawing of a bee.

Top of Head and thorax

Top of Head and thorax

Mauvish/brown/black bee eye and thorax

Mauvish/brown/black bee eye and thorax

The fuzzy tail and two delicate wings

The fuzzy tail and two delicate wings

My work space

My work space

Leftover ink in the trey- Inspiration for a bee wing.

Leftover ink in the trey- Inspiration for a bee wing.

Hurricane Harvey Heroes- LIVEstock- “bringing home the bacon” The inspiration?

He is one big pig, the beloved family pet that had to be hoisted upstairs to save him from drowning in the flood waters of Harvey. The idea of saving a pig was inspired by a YouTube video posted by a young family in Conroe, Texas. I hope you see in the figure not only the strength it takes to lift up a frightened squirming pig but also the determination that the figure has not to let the family’s favorite pet parish. The pig twist and turns  while straining his back legs straight out trying to reach the ground. 

photo by Nash Baker 

Bringing home the bacon

Bringing home the bacon

66” X 42” 60”

Steel, stainless steel lath, plaster, hydro stone, wire mesh, screen and cloth, and baling wire. 

the next pig post -  why a pig?

Houston Flood Museum

A selection of my Hurricane Harvey Heroes monotypes and one of the Humanities pieces are now exhibited in the Houston Flood Museum. 

 

 https://houstonfloodmuseum.org/hurricane-harvey-heroes-and-humanity/

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Hurricane Harvey - sculpture day 8 “bringing home the bacon”

I started the upper torso.  

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I always make the shoulders too broad and then have to adjust them. I will do that tomorrow.  

Hurricane Harvey - sculpture day 6 “bringing home the bacon”

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Hurricane Harvey - sculpture day 5 “bringing home the bacon”

Today I spent a lot of time cutting off and rewelding. The upper leg/booty was too big. After four hours  it now has a trimmer. 

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I am trying to decide if I need to reinforce the lower half of the body or move on. Once I reinforce the joints it is a lot more difficult to make changes. If I move on without reinforcing the welding joints, the piece could fall apart. That is my dilemma. 

Hurricane Harvey - sculpture day 4 “bringing home the bacon”

Connecting the legs and reinforcing them.  

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Building the hips and connecting the legs

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Side view  

View from back

View from back

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I create triangles to give the piece stability and strength.

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Left side view with triangles 

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View from the back

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view of the right side

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Using scraps to create triangles to strengthen the ankles.  

Looking back, I can now see the hips are not right and are exaggerating the movement. I will have the movement exaggerated when the piece is finished, but for the armature, I will have to tone it down.

Hurricane Harvey - sculpture day 3 bringing home the bacon

This sculpture is about the movement and the energy of rescuing livestock (a pig) during Hurricane Harvey. Today I have to decide on where the figure's weight needs to be to best balance the sculpture and express the energy of hoisting the swine to safety. The photos I took of Griffin while he was walking helped me committe to the foot placement. For the weight, I need new reference photos taken from each side. I am fortunate that my husband is always agreeable to posing for me. We wrapped a stool in a towel to stand in for the pig. Below are the new photos.

View from the front  

View from the front  

View of the left side  

View of the left side  

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back view 

 

New piece - Hurricane Harvey confronted with humanity #1

When you witness or experience a horrific event there are images that hold onto you; images that will forever be conjoined to the experience.

Weathering Houston’s hurricane Harvey, I was glued to the TV and Houston’s social media postings.  My eyes soaked up videos of contaminated waters creeping in the homes of nearby neighborhoods. I witnessed daring rescues of families as they were evacuated. In amazement, I watched mothers and children pile into garbage trucks, elderly folks in wheel chairs airlifted by helicopters. Through social media calls for help, it became obvious our cities first responders could not get to every home in need. Proudly, I saw brave Texans convert their flat bottom fishing boats, and jacked up pickup trucks into liferafts and search for those who called for help.  No Texan would be left behind.

When our street drained, turning off the news and putting my social media in my pocket, I packed up my dry survivor’s guilt and headed down to the George R. Brown convention center to volunteer and treat my pain and my conscience. The Red Cross had turned one-third of the GRB into a families with pets section. Entering the building with dilated pupils I wove my way through the walk ways created by the clusters of cots and kennels occupied by families and their pets. It struck me that even in the midst of a disaster we humans create neighborhoods and small communities, we are pack animals.  I headed towards the pop up pet supply store well stocked from donations made by citizens and the volunteer veterinary clinic where I would be helping out. Careful not to disturb the sleeping citizens of the newly formed families with pets city, I was confronted by a single cot. It was freshly dressed in a crisp white sheet accessorized with a fluffy white pillow and tucked in by a cozy, white flannel blanket decorated with tiny Red Cross logos all over. It was isolated from the others waiting for the next victim of Harvey to tuck themselves in and comfort them with safety.  With all the rescue images of people trudging through unsanitary water, homes floating in floodwater fresh in my memory bank that cot was shockingly - humanity. Thirty thousand GRB citizens would be relieved to make it their new homestead.  It was heart breaking and beautiful all at the same time. I could imagine if I had been rescued that cot would have been a long-awaited relief. I would not have asked the sheet thread count or if the cotton was grown pesticide free. My heart hurt for all those who were grateful to have such a cot. That cot, that crystal clear image of stripped down humanity, is the Harvey image that holds onto me. 

Within weeks, I made two watercolor monotype pieces of the cot. One as I saw it and one with a pet waiting for its owner. I was pleased with their crispness and the delicate watery shapes seen when closely inspected. It occurs to me that the cot was so symbolic to me because of the constant looped eyewitness news reporting and abundance of social media posts. I was seeing the same strong images over and over. From my dry den, I too experienced Harvey.  

I have taken photos of my television screen and collected screen shots of these images and will use them as inspiration for additional works to go with the cot. It will be interesting to see if it is interesting to anyone but me.

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This is a study for the project. I am experimenting with the type of images I want to use, the sizes of the images and how much they can be abstracted and still be recognizable.

This is a study for the project. I am experimenting with the type of images I want to use, the sizes of the images and how much they can be abstracted and still be recognizable.

I want to use only black ink on white paper. If I were to make the pieces color ink, I would need to address skin tones and ethnicity. And the truth is that during Harvey, skin color, political and religious affiliations (things that often divide us) were not an issue to the point that they were not even part of the commentary, and that was beautiful. It is a very shuttle way to make a strong statement. I hope it is heard.