An inordinate fondness for beetles
Posted by ddrees on September 1, 2008
“The naturalist, J. B. S. Haldane, was asked by a cleric about what he might infer about the Creator, based on his wide-ranging study of life. : Haldane supposedly replied the creator had “an inordinate fondness for beetles” based on the then current count of beetle species at around 400,000.”
I like insects (and spiders) because they are so beautiful, symmetric and jewel like. I also like them because of their fascinating life cycles, long and short, their transformations, communications and industries. They come in any color you can think of and all kinds of spots and stripes. I remember, but not well enough to give the exact citation, that Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan had decided to spend his next life as a bug because the bug he had chosen had such a great community life and was very happy.
Art deco and Art nouveau artists often used insects in their designs. E A Seguy at NYPL, Seguy at NCSU, Seguy at Bibliodyssey (the real skinny,see below) Louis Comfort Tiffany , Rene Lalique, Emile Galle are examples. My Flickr set of my work relating to insects is here.
There are quite a few great beetle, butterfly and insect books old and new. Lots of people like them despite the maligning of some of these creatures by shortsighted sci fi and other stories. Many groups on Flickr devoted to insect pictures attest to this interest.
Bugs do at times seem alien but are anything but. My source pictures for the beetles are from hand colored engravings in Entomology: Beetles, edited by Sir William Jardine, 1843.
A later edition of this whole book can be downloaded as a PDF albeit a poor quality one, from Google.
I bought a copy of the Jardine book and a butterfly book, Berge’s Schmetterlingsbuch, 1842 and a few disbounded plates from Cramer’s butterfly book, which is really high priced intact.
I love Antiquariat Junk’s site and bought a great but soiled butterfly book from them at a reasonable price. They have a beautifully organized site and you can see plates in the books. You can sometimes get these wonderful antiquarian books at lower prices when they are dirty or poorly bound because high roller collectors want them as close to perfect as they can get. I am in it for the pictures and can expertly clean them up in Photoshop. So I want the real books for the line detail and I start out with 1200 ppi scans and play around with them from there. Most anything that you can get on the Internet is too low in resolution but some libraries are doing excellent scanning jobs if your bandwidth can handle the large downloads. Here are some links but be careful you do not get stuck in them. University of Strasbourg, University of Wisconsin,
A picture blog coming out of Australia, Bibliodyssey, often finds and posts links to these good picture sources. It is on my check every week list.
I also have collected a few specimens but not with scientific rigor. I have found more than one Luna moth and noticed how different the individuals are. I suspect this is often so. But that is another large subject for another life. I do not want to kill any of them to catch them anymore. There are enough other ways to get models.
Some of my artworks here are from specimens, some are from my photos and some are from engravings. I avoid contemporary photos because of copyright issues.
This caterpillar from Diderot, then worked in Photoshop channel ops. My students do not tend to like the abstraction level of channel ops. I really do like channels and they fit into my procedural art area.
And do not forget this one.