"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Mischocyttarus Mexicanus Cubicola… Magnifico!

The splendidly named little paper wasp, just as I saw it on the wall, turning to give me that curious unblinking stare. They have been very busy with the arrival of warm weather but, as I am not a paper wasp aficionado, I am not entirely sure what they are doing. There is quite a bit of jostling and shoving and lots of  staring, which is what wasps seem to be particularly good at.

Close up these insects look weighty and armour plated when in reality they are airy creatures, floating delicately around the bushes like tiny leggy fairies doing good deeds in the garden. 

I, as much as anyone, am quite nervous about wasps and, until I started drawing them, was rather repelled by them. But as you study them, their intricate and beautifully designed body structure, a waist and a length of leg I would die for and their handsome beautiful marking, you just have to learn to admire them.  And that is before you even start to wonder just how they build those fragile and extraordinary nests.

A couple of stages of the work;

wasp startsm wasp half smwasp almost sm desk

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Viva la avispa magnifica!

paper wasp sm

Watercolour on Arches HP.. wasp size, a huge 5.5 inches. (I am really glad they are not this big in real life.)

15th FEB: Update… Thank you to Floria Mora for including this little wasp on her doctoral thesis poster. She has been studying the behavioral ecology of this wasp as a model system to discover how plastic their colonies are to the environment and social interaction. For a larger version of this poster please see here.

wasp poster

8 comments:

Shady Gardener said...

Me, too! (that they're not 5 1/2" in real life) - ha! Beautiful, beautiful work!

greenman said...

Uau!
It looks magnificent!
Great colours and beautyfully evil...

Adrian Thysse said...

Beautiful artwork. In the photograph that includes the desk, it actually seems to be sitting on top of the paper!

norwegica said...

Just came across your blog. Wonderful artwork, especially the wasps and bees!

sharp green pencil said...

Thanks to you all
.. am certainly glad it wasn't sitting on my desk :)
Showed it to my models today who just stared at me in their normal way waspy way!
Norwegica.. thanks for stopping by from Lincs. Do email me.

Floria said...

Hi Valerie,
wonderful work! I am a biologist and I am finishing my doctoral thesis which is about this specific species. I was thrilled to see your illustration. For some reason I cannot get through to the link to your email address. I would like to contact your privately. You can contact me at floriamk@gmail.com
Best regards,
Floria

urbanextension said...

Wow, wasps as well - I'm in awe of your drawings and paintings!

I've seen several wasps on this visit to the Florida Keys. Here are a couple of links. I think they are two different species.

One was on the ground (seemed to be collecting mud/sand)(digger wasp maybe?) the other was collecting wood on our decking (paper wasp?).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturewatched/4385431092/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturewatched/4384667797/

I agree they do stare at you! this one was definitely giving me a "look" this morning as I photographed it...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturewatched/4384669239/

Charles (billY) Gunnels said...

Howdy Valerie,

That is a wonderful piece of art. The Cuban paper wasp is a beautiful animal. I am professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. Similar to Floria, who contacted you previously, I study this animal. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about these amazing animals. For example, I am studying why immature animals at a nest actively take care of adults.
Charles (billY) Gunnels