Saturday, May 15, 2010


Dragonfly, originally uploaded by Elizabeth Smith.

I found this dead dragonfly on the ground recently; perfect for observing those tiny details and for a closer study.  Their life span is measured in months - so although I felt sad at its death, it seemed special that I found this specimen in great condition (except for a couple of missing legs). Usually I find only partial bodies of decomposing insects, often in the process of being consumed by other insects!

I don't know much about dragonfllies, so naturally I went off to research them. the fist thing I learned is that this is a skimmer, one of the dragonfly families. I found out that the order Odonata means "toothed one," and also read an interesting theory on the origin of their common name.  You can read the short theory here.

I carefully drew this out in pencil first, then used my Sakura Micron Pigma sepia pens to outline and fill with texture, using hatching and cross-hatching to get my deepest browns. I added watercolor washes, using Daniel Smith Burnt and Raw Umbers, as well as the Quinacridone Gold (yes, from my new palette!).

Since this is my personal nature journal, I didn't feel compelled to draw each vein, although someday I would like to be able to enjoy the patience (and eyesight) to do so!  The enlarged wing detail is off in proportion (yikes); I think I was overwhelmed anticipating all of those wonderful netted veins! 

The important part of this exercise is that I learned a lot from my observations and research, and enjoyed quieting my busy left brain while I focused on line and form and texture.  Ahhhhhhh...

You can click on the image above to view it larger on my Flickr photostream.