Saturday, 27 October 2012

Final Moult in pen & ink

Hey, look who's actually drawing again! For those who haven't seen my whinging and generally feeling sorry for my self on my other blog, I've been trying to get something ready for a show that's being hung next week, and in my world that's the signal to become completely blocked. Doodling for myself is fine, but the thought of putting something on a wall purposely for others to see it scares the bejeebers out of me enough to ensure that all arty things come to a complete, screeching halt (that "I'm not an artist" bit on the About Me tab? Not false modesty. I'm not an artist. The thought of putting my "art" on show is terrifying). Add that to the fact that this non-painter decided to work in acrylics this year, and... yeah. No art at all until the time crunch forced me to get something done. Pressure's off now, though, because the completed piece is all I've got and I can't do anything more about it.


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is haunted, and I promise that there's a reason why my brain went to dragonflies.

Entomophobes (of which I am a somewhat-reformed one) would be forgiven if they were creeped out by being around during the moulting time of some species of dragonfly. It doesn't happen with all of them, but for some species they exit the pond en masse looking for good, sturdy places to grip during the time it takes them to finally exit their nymphal skins. I don't want to bore you with the biology of the whole thing (for a change), but there's a good write-up here for those who are interested in the process. For me, the most incredible part of the whole thing is that it can take hours. Just imagine the vulnerability during that time, when your legs aren't yet solid enough to hold your weight and your wings haven't even inflated (and yes, I do mean to say inflated). If that happened to humans, I don't think humans would even exist.

Geez, all these words and I haven't even got to haunt. Get on with it, Dee.

I've been around local ponds in the late spring (doing school pond studies at work, mostly) in years where we've had masses of dragonfly nymphs climb out of the pond at once to metamorphose, and it really is a sight to see. All these rather large insects crawling along the ground and up any strong vertical surface, then splitting open their skins and starting the struggle to emerge. It truly looks exhausting, especially when you see it in real time as opposed to the sped-up versions you see on the internet. It's always a good learning moment for kids, to see metamorphosis up close.

What's left afterwards, though, is exuvia. Skins, that is. In peak years, hundreds and hundreds of skins all over the deck and picnic tables of the area where we pond dip. That's where haunt comes in for me. You can walk around the place and it looks like it's haunted by the ghosts of those hundreds of animals who have all shed their water-dwelling existence for an entirely new life. If I was feeling more poetic I could get absolutely purple here, but it is kind of a neat metaphor when you think of it. Shedding your skin, leaving the things that were haunting you behind, flying away... a lot could be done with that, I think.

Not by me today, though. It's enough of a triumph for me that I got the sketchbook out. It should happen more often now that the other piece is finished, I expect. Wish me luck with the staff show.

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