Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I have a deep respect for my elders. This respect applies to my evolutionary counterparts as well as rad grandpas. Alligators and sharks are the first that come to mind as being the ultimate crotchety old gents. I see the shark as a brackish curmudgeon, keeping to his hermit ways and stoic tendencies. The alligator is more gregarious; he's the old cad hanging around town fraternizing with the pretty little birdies and flashing his toothy smile. This snaggletooth lounging around the watering hole on the bayou has more layers than meets the eye. Aside from his hard-skinned outer appearances, he's also got a softer side, with far more ligament attachments. And then he has a deep, robust foundation that moors all his sinews. Most people would call these his muscle layer and skeletal profile, respectively, but what can I say - I'm a romantic. And I like to see the best in other creatures' anatomy.


"Bare Bones, Alligator mississippiensis Preliminary Tracing." (2011), pencil.


"Check Out Them Chompers, Alligator mississippiensis Preliminary Tracings: Jaw Muscle Attachment & Layering." (2011), colored pencil.


"Defense & Sunscreen, Alligator mississippiensis Preliminary Tracing." (2011), pencil.


"Smiling With Your Eyes, Muscles, & Pearly Whites, Alligator mississippiensis Preliminary Composite." (2011) pencil & CS5 Adobe Illustrator.

This last one is an idea of what the final project will look like once I combine the lovely layers of the alligator's alluring personality. (But finishing the final is where the dillydallying comes into play). With connections like this, it is no wonder the American Alligator has been able to chomp down and hold onto its place in history for so long! May he enjoy spending his retirement cruising around the marshes, in the Happy Ever (After) Glades.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Technicolor Technicalities

The Ant and I are friends, but only one of us has antennae. (And it is not I) Mrs. Myrmex & Homo sapi-Me share many things in life: a high degree of sociality, joy in the act of building houses, living in cities -- but, above all, we share a fondness for picnics. The perennial plethora of platters perused while planted on your posterior in the park adds an element of fresh air fun to any food fiesta. And that scented sky helps to direct legions of Formicidae to the checkered blanket by way of following pheromones with those specialized antennae! (Scent trails always stymie stealthy summer snacking)

Antenna are pretty sensational sense organs and they come in all different shapes and sizes! For one of my final introductory illustrations, I looked at the antennae of the Chinese Golden Stag Beetle. He rocks the club style, which perhaps alludes to Mr. Massive Mandible's penchant for dancing, or maybe he just thoroughly enjoys a bubbly fizz to his unflavored soda.

"Chinese Golden Stag Beetle, Eye+Antennae Close Up" (2010), pen & ink

But there is so much more to this great exoskeletonized arthropod than meeting his eye... behold the almost-imperceptibly iridescent inflections of ivy, iris, and iron emanating from that insect’s encasement! The contrasting and complementary colors abound, taking flight in the final test of technique: technicolor temperature tweaks. Since cold colors apparently recede and warm colors rise to the forefront in the human eye, this cold-blooded beast acted as the 2D canvas on which I was to play my 3D Prismacolor games.

"Chinese Golden Stag Beetle, Final Rendering" (2010), colored pencil on film

While it is true that I am jealous of the Ant and Beetle’s affixed antennae and pheromone-ferreting finesse, I rest easier at night by remembering that I wield the power of something just as awe-inspiring and painstakingly evolved to fight the battles thrown at me by the natural world: Color Vision. I am armed to perceive any and all rainbows cast in my skies, and I can appreciate every sunset that spills over my picnic blanket. Or the prisms that may pierce my pears...

"Pear Color Study, Temperature" (2010), colored pencil

Plus, if all other defenses fail, my highly dexterous fingers let me use ant-proof containers to keep all my tasty picnic food to myself. Thanks, evolution!