powder blue on rock

I have often seen many Odonata species without taking the time to look closely. Today I did however (actually, I was not familiar with the word Odonata until a couple months ago when I took a workshop. They are the damselflies and dragonflies). With an ecologist and experienced naturalists at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I walked along for a survey of these long bodied flyers.

meadowlark female

Admittedly, I have thought of them as very simple looking creatures but after seeing them up close with magnifiers, held carefully in hand, that idea changed. Their colors can be brilliant. Their head and legs are covered with what appear to be spikes. Their bodies are divided by segments, indicated by indentations and color. Their eyes revolve around with thought and purpose. And the wings are an entirely complex arrangement of line and pattern. I learned each individual Odonata has its own wing design. I guess one could compare it to our fingerprints. We each have our own identifying marks. So when I think of the probably millions, perhaps trillions of these animals, that live on this planet and will continue to be born, that is quite astounding. The depth of what God has created is quite intense. 

ruby meadowlark

I was compelled to sketch them the more I saw them. I did not expect to get as much information as I did. It helped that they were controlled to a degree, as they were delicately held. They also spent more time sunning themselves and repeating body positions than I expected. Above and below are some of my quick observations. As you can see, there was no time for capturing wing details. They did not spend that much time staying in one place! Each study represents about 1-3 minutes of drawing, if not a few seconds for some. It was a joy regardless. These sketches represent good memories of briefly becoming part of another animal’s world.

damselfly 1

Thanks to Jenn at the Urban Ecology Center and all the enthusiastic individuals I shared the trails with today to discover them! 

damselfly 2 damselfly 3 damselfly identified female slender spread wing

The images are original and my own so please ask for permission to reproduce. The respect is appreciated from one creative individual to another. 


7 thoughts on “Damsels and Dragons and Drawing

  1. I see many of these lovely creatures in my yard when gardening or just enjoying the view, but I’ve never thought to sketch them (not to mention in color!). What a lovely sketchbook of images you have shared. An inspiration to go back outdoors and look again.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Thomas. I really thought they would be too fast to get any sort of image down but I was amazed. They like to sit in the sun which proves to be a good time to “catch” them visually. Take care and happy Odonata watching! 🙂

  2. Your sketches captured my imagination and my heart. Is there any chance you might consider making some prints of them–exactly as they are– for sale in the future?

    1. Hi Sam,
      Thanks for the compliments. Odonata are such amazing little fliers!
      The original sketches are quite small so in order for my website company to make prints I combined images together. So some of the sketches are available as prints, if you are interested! They are found in my “Nature Collections Sketches and Studies” gallery. I entitled them “Damselflies Three” and “Meadowlark Studies.”
      Thanks for visiting Sam!

      1. Thank you for guiding me to the prints. I am just so taken with the sketches! BTW…I found you from the Urban Ecology Center email newsletter.

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