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.

Technique experiment for endangered bees.

Bee technique experiment

Bombus Affinis - listed on the Endangered list 2017

Bombus Affinis - listed on the Endangered list 2017

Detail of head with a big white eye, thorax antenna and leg

Detail of head with a big white eye, thorax antenna and leg

Th ghost of Bombus Affinis

Th ghost of Bombus Affinis

One is to heavy and ones too light. That is how they look to me wet. It is too soon to judge.

Heritage- a new piece

In the fall of 2018 I started this piece to add to my Heritage series of sculptures.  As a teen, I shaped hats in my father's western wear store and I began to understand that old hats are reflections of their owners, that they keep a bit of the spirit of the person who wore them. When I start a piece I am often thinking about a specific individual and a  challenge they're facing. While working on this piece I had a conversation with a friend about his career. This friend is very very passionate about his profession and has an admirable work ethic. His work situation has been frustrating for several years. There was not a way he could remedy the situation. In the end he turned  challenging circumstances into a new opportunity. He took the leap and carved a new path.

Initially, when I broke the piece out of the shell I was disappointed that there were so many spots that did not pour. The texture is exactly what I wanted, well worn and full of passion and character.

A little frustrated but keeping an open mind, I set it on my utility room counter. I like to set pieces I am working on there so I can glance at them quickly as I go about my household tasks. This allows me to think and rethink my next step with the piece.

I walked by it and glanced over quickly and it hit me, those patches that did not pour could resemble the new path that my friend carved. Is it possible this piece took on bit of the spirit of my friend and his circumstances?

The next step with this piece is to do the metal chasing. Once the metal work is done I need to make a decision regarding the cool spots. Do I want to patch the cool spots or leave it as is.

I will have to ponder that.

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It is still sitting in my utility room. I do love the shadows. ????????????