Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Invoking the Auspicious


There is no better sigil of affirmation that the Red Velvet Ant.  She's not really an ant at all but the female of a species of wasp.  They are large and can reach up to an inch and a half long.  Beautifully cloaked in scarlet and black they scurry along in the brush looking for food and nesting areas.  They are also called Cow Killers because they inflict such a crippling sting.  They are not usually aggressive, preferring to scurry away but dislike being handled.  Red Velvet Ants are useful in that they are parasitic to ground wasps and bees.  They naturally keep Yellow Jackets and ground Hornets in check. I value them for their appearance is a portent of good things to come.
Thus, I was inspired to do a study of one of my favorite insects.


I wanted to try out some new paper that I got made by St. Armand.  I love the natural color and rough texture.  I started out with a rough sketch.


Next, I added a background of twigs, pebbles, and pine needles for her to scurry over.


When Daniel Smith came out with Watercolor Ground I laughed and called it a cheap trick.  Well, crow is delicious at this point in my life because I ended up using some.  I filled in the areas that were to be red.  (I'm a cheap trick, so sue me.)

I skipped getting a shot of the pen and ink in process.  I used Higgins Calligraphy waterproof black ink with a crow quill and calligraphy nib to render the black.  I have my friend Amanda Smith to thank for the use of her ruling pen.  I have to get myself one of those.  They are fun!  I do have to say that the Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground and the Higgins waterproof ink did not like each other.  The watercolor ground would open the ink back up and create gray backwashes.  When I drew over the watercolor ground, the ink would bleed into it.  I got it to cooperate in the long run by erring on the side of subtlety.

Lastly, the moment of true occurred when I broke out my watercolors.  At first the watercolor ground was irritating because I wasn't used to how it reached.  After I got used to it's drying time and characteristics, things became easier.  I noted that color was much easier to wick and staining was nonexistent with this product.  I had to create and push around several layers in order to get what I wanted.  After I was satisfied with the underpainting, I applied hairlike texture with a tiny rigger.  Now she looks like she could skitter off the paper.



3 comments:

Lisa Toth said...

This is a beautiful print. I love the background and the red in the ant is perfect. Nice work!

Pistoles Press said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for the compliment! It's actually not a print but a mixed media. I like to do these before translating into a print. I can see where she will translate nicely to a print!

Lisa Toth said...

Clearly I didn't read your description closely enough! I was seeing it as a hand colored print. Either way, it is a beautiful image. And yes I think it would make a wonderful print.