View Full Version : Plurality of Worlds: Watercolor Illustrations & Objet d'art

AZ Traveler
05-29-2010, 12:14 PM
With recent success (= pleased with the results) and confidence in my transition from acrylics to watercolors, I have taken the plastic wrapper off my watercolor A3 Moleskine Folio. I begin with a return to my creative and entomological roots, of which I am most familiar, with the first element of a larger composition of beetles arranged diametrically - or at least, that's the plan. Remember, I'm working in a 12X16-inch (330 x 457 mm) format.

Here is my basic setup organized on W&N Cotman watercolors ...


and the finished illustration ...


Rosalia alpina (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Cerambycidae
Subfamily: Cerambycinae
Tribe: Rosalini
Distribution: Europe; extirpated in some parts, listed as endangered or protected in others.

The illustration is approximately 6X8-inches.

Best wishes, ...


05-29-2010, 03:02 PM
Congratulations, Delbert! Your beetle book is going to be gorgeous. You have a knack for picking the beautiful ones. I love this blue beetle, it's colorful and detailed and fascinating. Your setup looks great too. I should finally get around to getting a hair dryer, it's too easy to forget to buy one because I keep my hair so short.

05-29-2010, 04:26 PM
Very nice beetle, Delbert! I'm a bird, not a bug, person but look forward to seeing more of your critters. Speaking of beetles, though, on an annual raft trip I do in central Oregon, the last few years we have a big, clumsy-flying beetle (I think it's a beetle, anyway) that periodically bumbles into our card games at night when we have the lantern on. It also bites. I tried looking it up online and think it was something like a Seven-striped June Bug or something like that. Does that ring a bell at all?

05-29-2010, 04:29 PM
looking good :)

I often use touches of cp over watercolour to enhance. I think it would suit your subjects to help get the irridescence of some beetles.

05-29-2010, 05:23 PM
Delbert, I really like your beetle. Of all the insects, I think beetles and butterflies are the most colorful. Looking forward to seeing more.

AZ Traveler
05-30-2010, 03:03 PM
Good morning ...

I serendipitously found this video of a live Rosalia alpina, posted above ...



Robert, Thanks for your continued praise of my wc efforts. The little travel blow drier is very convenient for its size. A technique left over from my acrylic days to hasten wash and shadowing coverage.

John, Thank you. A "seven-lined" june beetle is a common name for the Scarab genus Polyphylla, of which I described a new species in 1998 discovered during my sand dune ecology work. **See "My Scientific Publications" list on my blog link above.**

I also have an affinity for birds.

Vivien, Thank you too. I must confess, I am unfamiliar with your reference to "cp" ...

Debby, Your comments are appreciated. Indeed, beetles and butterflies can be spectacular. But, there are also other groups that give us a moment of pause. For example, the tropical Phasmatids, related to Praying Mantis, that mimic pink and white orchids as a means of stealth.

The hardest part of all this is trying to choose which beetle to paint ....

Best wishes, ...

05-30-2010, 03:07 PM
I'm not a "bug person" either, but that one's kinda pretty. Nice job!

05-30-2010, 04:07 PM
cp = coloured pencil :) sorry - just laziness in not typing in full

I've used it in touches with the watercolours in the Canson book thread if you want to see it in use :)

05-30-2010, 07:05 PM
This is terrific! People don't realize how beautiful bugs can be! Can't wait to see the ones to come!


05-31-2010, 10:08 AM
Delbert, this is beautiful! Looks very 3D, and I really like all the detail - well done! :thumbsup:

(from someone who is not fond of bugs) :lol:

05-31-2010, 10:12 AM
Delbert- I love the beetle, and the paint sets look so wonderful too!! Thanks for sharing with us all!

Brenda Y
05-31-2010, 12:19 PM
I echo everyone else. . .this is going to be a GORGEOUS journal! I was thinking you may want to take a look at Daniel Smith's interference paints for adding a sheen. I'd apply the interference after the piece is completed and dried. Just a light layer would give the iridescent sheen (interference is more of a sheen and not the glittery look that some of the iridescents have). Here is a good write up and small demo about it

And here is a nice small set (this is actually the set I own and it's very adequate!)

Of course, your beetles are very lovely without a sheen, but this may add another dimension to your work that you would find pleasing.

05-31-2010, 10:52 PM
I love illustrations, and yours is perfect. Great lookin' bug.


05-31-2010, 10:59 PM
I love all the Daniel Smith Luminescent watercolors. I use Interference Green as an iridescent white, because it's richer flashing between green and red violet -- and it will glaze over anything so well. I collected a spectrum of Luminescents in all three types, Duochrome, Interference and Iridescent, and they're great with regular watercolors. They don't always give a greeting-card look if I'm using them with strong colors on a serious subject. Brenda, that's a tempting small set of Interference, I use so much Interference Green that I might get it sometime.

06-01-2010, 08:48 AM
I don't have anything else to say that hasn't been already said, so I'm just commenting to let you know that I like the illustration and I am looking forward to seeing other species that you'll paint.

AZ Traveler
06-01-2010, 07:43 PM
Michelle, Reggie, Mary Lou, Linda, David, Raymond,
Thanks so much for your considerate and encouraging comments. I appreciate your thoughts and input.

Vivien, Brenda, Robert, thank you too. Great suggestions on how I can embellish my illustrations to another level. Capturing the irridescence of some beetles can be difficult.

Here is the second element of my beetle composition ... again, Cotman WCs in an A3 WC Moleskine Folio ...

Megalorrhina harrisi procera Kolbe 1884
Superfamily: Scarabaeoidea
Family: Cetoniidae
Tribe: Goliathini
Distribution: Congo

There are apparently several "forms" or color variations of this subspecies.

And here is a snap of how the page and composition is progressing ...


Next, I'll fill in the corner space between both beetles with smaller elements. I have a rough sketch that I'm working from but I keep changing and moving ideas around which, consequently, changes everything else.

Best wishes, ...

06-01-2010, 09:33 PM
Ooooo this is kewl!! Love bugs and this first one is a beauty! Looking forward to more :-)

06-02-2010, 12:26 AM
Wow! Megalorrhina is colorful and gorgeous. Love all the detail.

Definitely look into the Daniel Smith Luminescent watercolors -- Duochrome ones in close to the hue of what's under it will work very well, so will Iridescent which don't flash between hues but have a gorgeous iridescence and much stronger color than some other metallic-iridescent color mediums, and Interference colors.

Interference Green is very pale and functions like an iridescent white, except it flashes green or red-violet, they all flash complements as you move -- so those Interference colors may be the best for some beetle wings. Duochromes color-shift too but not always to complements, sometimes to analogous colors like a wonderful blue-green that I love.

They also seem to convey the effect in a scan better than other metallic colors mediums, to my very happy surprise scanning paintings I've glazed with them. Not perfectly but some of it does come through.

06-02-2010, 03:20 AM
I have to admit I'm not an insect lover - but these are wonderful and the page is developing beautifully - I could be persuaded to admire them more by these!

06-02-2010, 05:53 AM
Delbert, I am late at commenting on your journal, and I really feel sorry for this :) Wow, I am simply amazed at how you can push your watercolour set! I mean, I use the same brand, and am a bit clumsy with it I must admit. ^^

Beautiful work,and details! I used to watch bugs when I was a kid (imagine me lurking near the flowers to watch the bees and butterflies, or at my dad's garden to catch a glimpse of a beetle (they became so rare nowadays), that seeing your bugs in large size reminded me of those peaceful summer days :)

Looking forward to see more!

06-02-2010, 08:23 AM
That second beetle looks ominous! Very accurate detail.

Brenda Y
06-02-2010, 10:14 AM
Wow -- amaaaaazing!! You get the symmetrical elements down PERFECTLY! And the color is gorgeous. I'm eagerly awaiting seeing this page completed!!
I loved bugs of all kinds when I was a kid, but seeing the details you draw "up close and personal" I don't know if I would've handled so many - :lol:

06-02-2010, 04:57 PM
This one is just as great as the first one. The antennae are definitely on the weird side. Amazing what insects look like when look at them closely.

AZ Traveler
06-02-2010, 05:09 PM
Thank you, Rachel. There are a lot of interesting and colorful insects in Texas. Obviously, my forte is beetles.

Thank you, Robert. I appreciate your comment and will look into the luminescent watercolors that you and Brenda suggested. Vivien also suggested CPs to bring out the subtle irridescence found on a lot of beetles.

Vivien, while it is not my intention to be an entomological good will ambassador, I'm pleased that my illustrations are being received well by many of you. As a friend and colleague once said to me, "... It's not something that you do , it's who you are."
Thank you.

[B]Sandra, thank you, but an apology isn't necessary. Your childhood summer memories in your father's garden were very poignant and most appreciated. Merci.

Thank you too, Raymond. As I'm sure you know, the species I've illustrated thus far, and of course those to follow, can be googled to find images of the beetle. I either work from the actual beetle specimen or use photographs or both.

Brenda, thank you for your continued encouragement and positive comments. Amazingly, there really are very few insects that are capable of harming you when handled - those being some of the social insects - bees, wasps, etc. Those that do aren't insects but arachnids or closely related.

Thank you, Debby. The antennal structure of beetles is one of the diagnostic characters for separating them into families, subfamiles, etc. Basically, with scarab beetles, as in the Megalorrhina above, their antennae consist of many or just a few segments that are capable of being opened and closed - like pages of a book - to form a "club" of sorts.

Best wishes, ...

06-02-2010, 10:24 PM
Stunning work. This second beetle just jumps from the page, not literally thank goodness. The colours and detail are amazing. They are such interesting creatures. You are certainly becoming a good will ambassador for the entomologically minded. The layout is looking really interesting, can't wait to see more. It will be a stunning piece of art when complete.

06-02-2010, 11:12 PM
Delbert - I hope you didn't take offense at my saying "bugs"! (I did mean insects as a whole! I just use the term 'bugs' in a friendly way!).
As far as beetles go, yes we have some neat ones, including one in particular that I saw one day while hiking, which I'll never forget! Unfortunately I don't know the name of it, a big, long dark green metalic beetle, about an inch 1/4 long, which being the way I am I had to pick up one day for a closer look... very cool... but it wasn't until I set it back down I realized the awful smell it left behind!! MAN! Thats not the strangest part either... I continued my hike and was looking at a bird... when i looked back down I noticed another beetle, exactly the same kind, making a bee line for me... up my leg, up towards my arm! I'm like "Can it smell the other beetle and it thinks i'm a big mate"??? :confused: LOL It was the the most bizarre thing i'd ever seen! Maybe you are aware of this species? I'll never forget it!! It took several washes to get that smell of my hand and arm!!

AZ Traveler
06-03-2010, 11:03 AM
Stunning work. This second beetle just jumps from the page ... The colours and detail are amazing. They are such interesting creatures.
Thanks so much for your comment.

Rachel, interesting story. I'm sorry, your description doesn't bring anything to mind. Oh, I never thought about your reference to "bugs." Thanks for your consideration though :wink2:


06-03-2010, 11:40 AM
I must try and find out. I'll let you know if I find it. :-)

06-03-2010, 12:26 PM
Oh Delbert! What a treat your journal is going to be. Your beetles are gorgeous on the page, but I'm a chicken when it comes to meeting them in person. Please keep showing me how beautiful they are. Maybe I'll come around some day! :lol: :lol:

Vivien Maloney
06-03-2010, 03:02 PM
Delbert - I hadn't checked this Forum for a while but now that I have, I just wanted to say "I love your work"! Beautiful beetles. I didn't know that beetles could look so lovely. Look forward to seeing more.

06-03-2010, 10:56 PM
Delbert - I just looked up that beetle of mine from a photo I had and it was a Ground beetle, and I believe it to be the "Caterpillar Hunter"! I know other species of Ground beetles emit unpleasant odors! It was a beauty, one i'd be tempted to draw myself! :)

AZ Traveler
06-04-2010, 02:58 AM
Jean and Viv, Thank you so much. I appreciate your comments.

Rachel, google Calosoma scrutator.

Okay, moving right along ...


Gymnetis stellata Latreille 1813
Superfamily: Scarabaeoidea
Family: Cetoniidae
Tribe: Gymnetini
Distribution: Mexico to Venezuela, SA

Associated with low to mid-level tropical rain forests. Adults feed on sap, flowers, ripening fruit.

Here is how it fits into the composition ...


Best wishes, ...

06-04-2010, 08:45 AM
Delbert - yes thats the one. Sorry, I could have swore I copied and pasted the latin name with it? Weird. I had already browsed those google pages to check to see if there was anything different other than what my (old) book had! I was going to post some of those pages but didn't think I was allowed so just posted the name. I just love the green of that beetle!
Now YOUR beetles are just looking amazing all put together on one page like this! Wow - that yellow and black one is very cool!! I love the way it lays over the feeler (is that the right term?) of the first one. Fantastic work! :thumbsup:

06-04-2010, 12:49 PM
Another very cool looking beetle. Are these in proportion to each other?

AZ Traveler
06-05-2010, 12:28 AM
Rachel, we have the green Calosoma here in se Arizona. Actually there a handful of different species here including a bluish species and a black one with an irridescent red margin. All of these are popular with collectors.

Thanks. The "feeler" is the antenna.

Debby, Thank you, too. The beetles I've illustrated are more or less in proportion to each other. I've taken a slight liberty here and there so the beetles will fit the layout of my composition.


AZ Traveler
06-11-2010, 12:12 AM

Dynastes tityus (Linnaeus, 1758) "Eastern Hercules Beetle"
Distribution: southeastern United States

W&N Cotman watercolors, FC Polychromos CPs, A3 watercolor Moleskine Folio.


... Delbert

06-11-2010, 12:10 PM
These beetles are just so cool. You're doing a wonderful job on them.

06-11-2010, 12:23 PM
These last two are gorgeous. I like the more muted colors on the Hercules Beetle and its sturdy proboscis. It makes the brighter ones look more natural that you included one that's more yellow ochre than bright cadmium yellows. Gorgeous paintings. The intricate patterns on Gymnetis are fantastic. You've done such a great job with these, each of them perfect in itself and the overall composition well balanced. I'm looking forward to more!

06-11-2010, 03:20 PM
I agree :)

06-11-2010, 10:17 PM
It is amazing the detail and colour that you get into these. Stunning work. Thanks so much for continuing to share.

AZ Traveler
06-13-2010, 02:23 PM
Good morning and thanks everyone for your considerate comments. I appreciate your input.

Vivien suggested using Polychromos CPs to add additional layers of depth and highlights my beetle illustrations, and, Robert also followed with similar suggestions. Thank you.

Although my grasp of the Polychromos is limited at the moment, I reallly like the subtle layering and additional detail and definition I am able to achieve with a well sharpened CP (OCD rears it's ugly head again).

I see I have a slight problem with "bloom" which I didn't notice until I photographed the illustration.

Enjoy what's left of the weekend.

Best wishes, ...

06-13-2010, 02:31 PM
With CP you will get bloom, tho' I'm surprised that the Polychromos are doing so, so quickly. The best option is to wait until you are through with your artwork and then wipe the bloom off gently with a cotton ball or soft not linting cloth. Then, immediately spray with a fixative. A couple of coats allowing it to dry each time. However, I don't know how the fixative will react to/with the watercolor so do a test swatch first to make sure. I would hate for you to ruin your lovely creation. You may just need to let it be and occasionally wipe the drawing to erase the bloom.

AZ Traveler
06-14-2010, 11:43 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, Debby.
I perused the CP Forum Library which offered similiar treatments. I'm sure it wasn't/isn't the CPs but my lack of experience blending them.


06-14-2010, 11:51 AM
Debby's right about how to handle wax bloom, but in a mixed media piece she's also right about testing the fixative on a scrap where you've used both mediums. Some fixatives work fine over watercolor, others dissolve and soften it.

I'm surprised you got wax bloom from Polychromos, those are oil based colored pencils and shouldn't get it. Prismacolors are the worst offenders for wax bloom though, I always have to use fixative when I use them. Derwent Coloursoft gets it too as well as Derwent Drawing Pencils. There are lots of brands that do and it's nothing to do with your experience blending them. It's got more to do with the formula of the binder on the pencils.

06-14-2010, 05:39 PM
I've never had 'bloom' problems with Polychromos but know people who have awful problems with Prismas.

06-14-2010, 07:18 PM
Thanks. The "feeler" is the antenna.

Thank YOU for the correction! :D

AZ Traveler
06-21-2010, 06:27 PM
... and now for something completely different ...


8X8-inches, pencil


06-21-2010, 06:32 PM
*snort* Funny! Love the cartoon.

06-21-2010, 09:55 PM
LOL Delbert!

06-22-2010, 02:58 PM
This entire project rocks!!!

06-22-2010, 03:35 PM
LOL Love it!

06-23-2010, 07:40 AM

06-23-2010, 12:12 PM
Great cartoon, Delbert! Given your interest in insects, and this commercial, here's a little story. I've done a float trip down the Deschutes River in central Oregon with two former work buddies for 26 years in a row now. We fish a lot since it is a world class trout and steelhead stream. The Deschutes is a very productive river as far as aquatic insects go - it supposedly has something like 40+ species of caddis flies. At night we play cards by a gas lantern, and of course the caddis (and other) flies are thick around the lantern. And...in our drinks. If you're grossed out by a few bugs in your drink, your only choice is not to drink. At one point we all had moustaches and we joked that it was to filter out the insectivorous protein from whatever we were drinking. :)

06-23-2010, 01:08 PM
More amazing illustrations! Delbert, your perfect coloring and level of detail are great. Love seeing your little "critters."

It's so interesting to see the different interests that people have and their ability to fill journals with images of insects or birds, or cats.

Great job!


AZ Traveler
06-27-2010, 11:55 PM
Good evening everyone and, as always, thanks so much for your continued views and comments. I appreciate you all taking a moment to post a word or two of encouragement. I have a few more cartoons to post when time permits including an entomological self portrait.

For the moment, I would like to update my progress on the beetle composition which, I feel, is nearing completion but still lacks a few more beetles and other details. You may notice that the red longhorn beetle (Rosalia formosa) lacks the right antenna. I have temporarily omitted it until the remaining beetles are in place.

As a reminder, this is done in an A3 (16.5 X 12-inch, 297 X 420mm) watercolor Moleskine Folio using W&N Cotman wcs and Faber-Castell Polychromos CPs.

BTW: I was wrong about my earlier comments about having "bloom" from the CPs.

As always, best wishes, ...



06-28-2010, 12:55 AM
I'm a newbie on this forum so a little late joining in here, but just wanted to say how great this is.... the colours are beautiful!

06-28-2010, 07:40 AM
What beautiful "bugs"! Your drawings are precise, clean and colorful, and FUN!

06-28-2010, 02:21 PM
this is really lovely - each new one makes the page better and better :)

06-28-2010, 02:45 PM
Wow! This is really progressing, and I can start to see the shape of the whole. It's gorgeous! Keep going with this massive work, Delbert!

06-28-2010, 05:57 PM
Great stuff here. That lime green beetle really stands out on the page. But, then I realized, it probably hides in foliage and I'd never really see it in real life. :o

06-29-2010, 06:25 PM
This is coming along SO well!!

06-30-2010, 05:56 AM
Great mixed media artwork! Indeed, that sketch you posted was a bit different to what I was expecting but nonetheless an excellent sketch.

AZ Traveler
07-17-2010, 07:19 AM
Good morning crew! :wave:

Just touching base here to offer a quick hello. I'm spending the majority of my time right now in the field and haven't picked up a brush or CP in several weeks.

I would like to thank everyone for your continued comments and views. Hope to return soon ...

as always, Best wishes, ...

Vivien Maloney
07-17-2010, 02:46 PM
The whole page of beetles is amazing! Great compostion on it and the various coloured beetles are awesome - large page too. I like your cartoon also - made me smile.

AZ Traveler
08-31-2010, 02:22 PM
Just a quick hello and :wave: to stay in touch. My field season here in se AZ is winding down some. Last I heard, we were over 5-inches above normal for this year's monsoon season with several local mountain ranges ("sky islands") well above that. Many of my entomological colleagues have come from several states to visit and collect.

I am hoping to complete my beetle composition - posted herein - later this fall.

As always, to all of you that have expressed your positive encouragement, comments, and support ...

Best wishes,

08-31-2010, 07:25 PM
D, look forward to seeing more when you can post!

AZ Traveler
11-23-2010, 06:23 PM
Greetings and salutations everyone from sunny southeast Arizona! :wave:

I am dusting off my watercolor kit and should be back to work on my beetle composition, posted herein, shortly :crossfingers:

You know how it goes: "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you on this side of the pond.

Best wishes,



Carole A
11-23-2010, 09:15 PM
Delbert ~ Looking forward to your next creepy crawlie. Happy Thanksgiving to you also.

Carole A

AZ Traveler
01-09-2011, 09:45 PM
Hello :wave: and thanks for your continued patience, encouragement and support.

I have just recently applied paint to paper and should be posting something worthwhile soon :crossfingers:

I'm not exactly sure I will imediately jump back into my wc beetle composition just yet.

Hoping you had a pleasant holiday season and best wishes for the new year.

En espérant que vous a connu une saison des vacances agréables et meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année.