A couple of months ago, my lovely followers voted for the next set of three illustrations in my series of proudly South African, Downloadable Wall Art: Surprisingly, insects trumped aloes/succulents (Disappointed? Don't worry - I will eventually get to them too!).
I did not expect it, but deciding on only three insects to illustrate was by far the most difficult of the range so far. SA has a phenomenally diverse, colourful and interesting collection of "goggas" to choose from! But, I had to keep in mind that the final artworks should be appealing to a wide range of people.
I would love to illustrate any number of SA's incredible spiders: The harmless Giant Wandering Crab Spider is one of my personal favourites, not to mention the colourful Garden Orb Spider, or even the not-so-spidery Red Roman! Of course, I realise that my adoration of arachnids is uncommon...
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my dad crouching down in our garden, gently cradling a Daddy Long-Legs in his hands: "Look, it has one, two, three... eight legs. And a lot of eyes. Look at the pretty stripes on its legs. Look how small it is. It must be scared of us, because we're so big in comparison!".
Isn't it amazing how trusting we are as kids?! My father - a teacher at heart - bestowed upon me a life-long love for a creature that most people avoid. For some, spiders are the stuff of nightmares!
Suffice it to say, no spider made it even close to the shortlist of insect-illustrations-to-be...
After much deliberation, I also decided to completely cut butterflies (and moths) from the shortlist. Again, there are hundreds of beauties to choose from, but I felt that a butterfly would be a too-obvious choice... Although I'd like the illustrations to speak to a wide audience, I want to avoid them feeling too safe or mainstream, especially when the new set is first launched. In the same way that a spider would have been an obviously bad addition, I think a butterfly would have been a too-obviously good addition! Or something like that...
I guess what I'm trying to relay here, is that it took a great deal of time, thought and effort to narrow it down to my final three. And even though I'm content with my choices, there are a lot of insects that still linger in my mind (hopefully not laying eggs!), that would have been beautiful and that I know people will miss. Alas, you can't make everyone happy. Here's hoping for most people...
Without further ado, I'm happy to present my three Downloadable Wall Art Insects:
The Flightless Dung Beetle (Circellium bacchus) is endemic to only a few small areas in the south-eastern part of South Africa, including Addo Elephant National Park. Conservationists believe that these insects once populated much of the country. But as large mammals (and therefore large poop-producers!) like elephants, buffalo and rhino declined in numbers, so did the dung beetles. Being flightless, they could not flee to new territory as easily as their winged-cousins. (Sandra MacGregor, Atlas Obscura)
The African Honey Bee (Apis mellifera scutellata). Globally there are more honey bees than any other type of pollinating insect, so it is the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that a third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination, mainly by bees! (Sustain)
The Barbet Percher Dragonfly (Diplacodes luminans) not only has a delightful name, but also striking colouration. Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago. They are expert hunters and fliers, and do a lot to control the mosquito population (Thank you, Dragonflies!!!). (Sarah Zielinski, Smithsonian Magazine)
Shop the original pen and watercolour illustrations here.
See the full Downloadable Wall Art range here: