ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

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.”

Inordinate Fondness for Beetles tan/blu ©2002 d drees

Inordinate Fondness for Beetles tan/blu ©2002 d drees

An inordinate fondness -blue © d drees

An inordinate fondness -blue © d drees

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.

e a seguy plate

e a seguy plate

Dragonfly, L C Tiffany

Dragonfly, L C Tiffany

Rene Lalique Brooch

Rene Lalique Brooch

Emile Galle

Emile Galle

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.

Jardine Beetles Frontispiece

Jardine Beetles Frontispiece

Jardine Beetles Plate 26, hand colored engraving

Jardine Beetles Plate 26, hand colored engraving

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.

Berge's Smetterlinge Plate 11

Berge

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.

Luna Moth, watercolor and marbling ©d drees

Luna Moth, watercolor and marbling ©d drees

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.

black and gold striped creature designer, digital ©d drees

black and gold striped creature designer, digital ©d drees

Inordinate fondness/red ©d drees

Inordinate fondness/red ©d drees

Inordinate fondness/dark blue ©d drees

Inordinate fondness/dark blue ©d drees

Inordinate fondness/sand ©d drees

Inordinate fondness/sand ©d drees

noiseless, patient spider, watercolor and marbling ©d. drees

noiseless, patient spider, watercolor and marbling ©d. drees

night vision, watercolor ©d drees

night vision, watercolor ©d drees

Anne's Butterfly , watercolor and marbling © d drees

Anne's Butterfly , watercolor and marbling © d drees

Bug Pals, digital © d.drees

Bug Pals, digital © d.drees

Butterfly and Pinecone Mandala ©1994 d.drees digital

Butterfly and Pinecone Mandala ©1994 d.drees digital

Butterfly mandala-blue © d drees

Butterfly mandala-blue © d drees

Butterfly vortex ©d.drees digital

Butterfly vortex ©d.drees digital

blue and white © d drees

blue and white © d drees

Grasshopper pattern © d drees

Grasshopper pattern © d drees

Waterskeeter pattern © d drees

Waterskeeter pattern © d drees

Illuminator's Butterfly assembly  © d drees

Illuminator's Butterfly assembly © d drees

Is rapture the treasure © d drees  digital

Is rapture the treasure © d drees digital

Palimpsest © dedree drees, digital

Palimpsest © dedree drees, digital

caterpillar © dedree drees , digital

caterpillar © dedree drees , digital

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.

Caterpillar 8 © d drees

Caterpillar 8 © d drees

Caterpillar 9 © d drees

Caterpillar 9 © d drees

And do not forget this one.

scarab

scarab

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4 Responses to “An inordinate fondness for beetles”

  1. peacay said

    Whoa! Great collection. I like the ‘black & gold’, especially the photoshop palette ;- )
    Note that the Seguy link is borked.
    Berge’s Schmetterlingsbuch is online (thanks: hadn’t heard of it). And Jardine pops up a bit more than my brief skim can cope with! Must have a closer look through that lot.
    You made me go back looking through all the posts in ‘fauna’, just remembering how many insect-y posts there have been. I had forgotten about this one: great resources linked from there.

    Taa!

  2. ddrees said

    Dear PK

    Thanks. I fixed the Seguy link to NYPL.
    I think my Berge is different than the link you cite. Mine was published in 1842 and the limited text is in Fractur. It is mostly pictures. I am in it for the pictures. I have only posted a couple of large Berge’s on Flickr but intend to get around to posting more. Once school starts up I do not have much time to play. Internet was slow tonight so I am giving up and I have to drive to NY early tomorrow morning to beat the next snow storm but shall pursue this at a later date. I was so happy to get your comment (oh esteemed one) that I did not want to drop the ball.
    Thank you many times for your great blog.
    DD

  3. peacay said

    re: Seguy. NYPL is not the best place realllllly (I mean, I know it is in a way for the diversity but the best quality is elsewhere). I think it’s South or North Carolina University that have a wonderful collection….forget which. If you search on seguy at my house it should turn up a couple of posts which links to the univ. collection.
    Snow? What’s that?

  4. ddrees said

    Dear PK,
    Fixed again. You are right about lack of information on artist Seguy. Wikipedia has a stump for E.A. Seguy, the entomologist but no mention of the artist. Would be good for some graduate student to pursue.
    Snow. I keep wondering how humans ever settled and lived in snow areas. My hometown is in the “snow belt”. Heck, when I was a kid we used to have to walk ten miles to school in four feet deep snow at twenty degrees below zero.
    Gotta go. My husband is after me to leave.
    dd

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