Travel to Far-Flung Places

From June to October 2016 almost without a break, I have been travelling photographer and personal assistant to Professor Peter Maddison, the world-renowned entomologist and generalist taxonomist. It has been one of the most amazing and exciting times of my life. We first travelled to some western Pacific countries : Palau, Pohnpei, Guam, and we attended the Pacific Science Congress in Taipei, Taiwan. Hot, lots of pressure and lots of different kinds of environments to photograph in. The next part of the agenda was to the east. We began at the Institut Louis Malardé of Tahiti , continued to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) where I had the pleasure to meet Edmundo Edwards the archeologist who has guided royalty on many occasions to visit the famous stone statues there. Then briefly Peru and Ecuador en route to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz of the Galapagos Islands with all their wonders. We were there for about ten days before flying to Florida and attending the International Entomological Congress along with about 6,000 other delegates. After the congress we spent some time in north Florida, especially at the University at Gainesville, then had a last two weeks at the La Selva Biological Station near Sarapiqui in Costa Rica. The latter was certainly the most species-rich place I can imagine ever visiting. I would love to go back one day.


Portraits with Bees

Starting a new series.  Small (200 mm x 125 mm / 8 ins x 5 ins) portraits of people who have a special appreciation of bees.  

Some of the reasons people have told me they want to be painted with bees:

I love my flower garden. I love honey on toast. I love manuka honey for scratches - it heals them so well! I love forget-me-nots and lavender and so do bees.  I have a fascination for New Zealand solitary bees.  I have a few hives in the back garden.  My favourite fruit is peaches, and without bees, no peaches.  Bees are so cool.  Bees work so hard and cooperate with each other, they are a good example to humans.  I love almonds and the bees are needed to pollinate the almond flowers.  Bees are in trouble.  We need bees.  Bees are part of the world.  WIthout bees we'd have no honey.

Bee Painting

As part of my upcoming exhibition with Yaniv Janson, "Our Bees" I thought I should paint at least one decent-sized bee, to explore the creature's morphology, if my 6th form Biology terminology serves me right.

I have been able to take lots of reference photos, as conveniently many of my garden bees have been almost tame the last winter, possibly because I've been feeding them honey water each day.  So I have some nice close-ups to look at through my magnifying glass.  Yes, I could zoom in on a digital screen image but I have never been able to paint (or even read) long from a screen for some reason.  I prefer to have a printed image.

I thought a side-view might bring us down, as it were, to the bee's world.  A bee's eye view.

Apis mellifera, the European Honey Bee.

Apis mellifera, the European Honey Bee.

Here's the process I followed.  Not very systematic, and in fits and starts.  In watercolours I tend to work from light to dark, but sometimes, as in the case of the legs, I knew they had to be very dark, so I went at them with lots of pigment pretty much right from the start, only warming them up with one glaze of dark orange, and selectively washing parts off later to lighten the colour and make hairy the stripe for the pollen groove.

I began with an accurate pale pencil drawing, and generally built up from a base colour which was modified by glazes and texturing detail.  I generally use larger brushes at the start, laying in large areas of flat colour, or dropping in strong mixes to a clean water patch and allowing the colours to mix on the paper.  As I need more fine detail, I use smaller and smaller brushes.  

The last two images differ mostly in that the shadow under the bee seemed too blue initially so I warmed it up and was much happier with it.

The differences in colour of the surrounding  paper are due to different times of the day/ night.

Cottleston Gallery Tauranga

Cottleston Gallery Tauranga, 128 Oropi Road, Greerton, Tauranga 3112.

This is the beautiful old homestead where you can find my art.  Open for exhibitions, and at other times but by appointment only. Gallery: 07 578 5242 or 012 1263468

Next Exhibition:

E A R T H • W A T E R • F I R E.   Andrew Caldwell and Katherine Steeds  

Preview opens 6pm Friday 27th February 2015

and then open daily 28 February -  March 8th, 11am - 4.30am

*Kuaka* The Godwit Exhibition

Opening night was Friday 1 August.  A lovely crowd turned up and all the new gallery lights helped the paintings look their very best.