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.

Sewing 🐝 #4 experiment for possible community project.

Sewing 🐝 #4

This piece is a conversation starter. The bee on this cap is the Bombus Affinis or commonly known as the Rusty Patch bumble bee. This bee was listed on the endangered species list in 2017. It is the first U.S. bee to be listed.

Finished piece.

Finished piece.

No planing just winging it. It explains why that antenna is so BIG

No planing just winging it. It explains why that antenna is so BIG

This fuzzy little body needs some wings.

This fuzzy little body needs some wings.

Detail of wing and legs

Detail of wing and legs

I need to delete the giant antennae.

I need to delete the giant antennae.

Copy added

Copy added

Every bee needs some pollen in the air.

Every bee needs some pollen in the air.

After I finished and stood back I was not pleased. It was too busy, too much. Today I took out Impact. It feels better, I will live with it and maybe take out Endangered and the pollen and plant pieces.

After I finished and stood back I was not pleased. It was too busy, too much. Today I took out Impact. It feels better, I will live with it and maybe take out Endangered and the pollen and plant pieces.

Is destitching a word?

Is destitching a word?

Nine things that can help #savethebees

1. Plant a pollinator garden 

2. Pull weeds or better yet go native, as many weeds and wild flowers are food for bees. 

3. Do not use herbicides to kill weeds. Bees live in the ground and neonicotinoids kill microflora in bee guts, making them less tolerant to bee disease. 

4. Find natural ways to combat mosquitos. Many urban beekeepers tell me their hives suffer when city mosquito trucks spray and when their neighbors install mosquito misting systems. 

5. Become an urban beekeeper.  

6. Buy local honey that is not mixed with corn syrup. 

7. Provide a water source. 

8. Buy local organic food. 

9. Spread the word.

Sewing 🐝 #4 experiment for possible community project.

Sewing 🐝 #4

This piece is a conversation starter. The bee on this cap is the Bombus Affinis or commonly known as the Rusty Patch bumble bee. This bee was listed on the endangered species list in 2017. It is the first U.S. bee to be listed.

Finished piece.

Finished piece.

No planing just winging it. It explains why that antenna is so BIG

No planing just winging it. It explains why that antenna is so BIG

This fuzzy little body needs some wings.

This fuzzy little body needs some wings.

Detail of wing and legs

Detail of wing and legs

I need to delete the giant antennae.

I need to delete the giant antennae.

Copy added

Copy added

Every bee needs some pollen in the air.

Every bee needs some pollen in the air.

After I finished and stood back I was not pleased. It was too busy, too much. Today I took out Impact. It feels better, I will live with it and maybe take out Endangered and the pollen and plant pieces.

After I finished and stood back I was not pleased. It was too busy, too much. Today I took out Impact. It feels better, I will live with it and maybe take out Endangered and the pollen and plant pieces.

Is destitching a word?

Is destitching a word?

Nine things that can help #savethebees

1. Plant a pollinator garden 

2. Pull weeds or better yet go native, as many weeds and wild flowers are food for bees. 

3. Do not use herbicides to kill weeds. Bees live in the ground and neonicotinoids kill microflora in bee guts, making them less tolerant to bee disease. 

4. Find natural ways to combat mosquitos. Many urban beekeepers tell me their hives suffer when city mosquito trucks spray and when their neighbors install mosquito misting systems. 

5. Become an urban beekeeper.  

6. Buy local honey that is not mixed with corn syrup. 

7. Provide a water source. 

8. Buy local organic food. 

9. Spread the word.

Glyphosate #7 (working title) kinetic sculpture - adding some details

In order to help the large abstract shapes read as botanical or floral shapes I have added some smaller botanical shapes and vines. I think they help. 

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hopefully this flower is abstracted enough but not too much. 

 

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Here is another  

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?

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

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Hat day - and finding my voice as an artist

 This sculpture began my journey to find and define my voice as an artist.

 I inherited a family treasure from my grandfather Bob-pa, Robert Fleming Travis. This inheritance is not an object it is an impression of a human spirit. With this object I tell the story of the pain and challenges the harsh west Texas weathers imprints on a soul through tears, rips and holes in a satin lining. I see evidence of daily habits necessary to survive alcoholism, and diabetes through the creases still living in the felt. I see a love between two people committed for life in the tattered remnants of a gross grain ribbon. I see financial hardship that shapes character in the frayed and moth eaten edges of the brim. This well-worn inheritance quietly mirrors my grandfather’s life and character.  Shaped by growing up in the Depression, he knew hard times as he later farmed cotton and raised cattle in the harsh West Texas desert near El Paso.

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Photo by will michels.  

Photo by will michels.