When it comes to ladybugs, our art challenge prompt for today, finding photo references is always a fun challenge. Mostly because, ladybugs are not often seen together or even known to remain in one place very long. So, most of the photos of two ladybugs are of one ladybug on another’s back. This is not how they travel, of course, since they do indeed possess the ability to fly. It’s something rather more intimate, and I tend to blush each time I scroll through the images. I did indeed want to paint two ladybugs today, but I opted to imagine the courtship just before the lovemaking in a quick and loose little doodlewash for today. Even ladybugs deserve a bit of privacy. I’ve truly no idea what ladybug courtship even involves, so I had no idea what I was sketching. But it was fun to splash some paint around and try something a little different for today. Afterwards, I then had to look up a bit more about these love bugs which turned out to be rather fascinating.
I found some articles that described an intriguing phenomenon where ladybugs, who only live a short year, would congregate in the fall to reproduce just before heading into winter hibernation. Apparently, last years’ ladybugs leave a bit of a pheromone trail that leads the new group back to the same spot each and every year for generations. Floating off to the mountains to reproduce en masse and then heading to bed, waiting for spring to arrive. I’ve no idea what it all means really, but it’s such a curious thing to consider. Nature always leaves me thinking I have absolutely no idea how it actually works. I think, in the end, that’s why it’s so intriguing. You can learn facts, sure, but in practice, much of it remains a total mystery. I feel the same about watercolor as I paint each and every day. Though I love to see new techniques to experiment with, I leave mostly confounded. After all this time, I don’t think I’ve come close to scratching the surface of what this medium can actually do. And that’s precisely why I love it so much.
Each day that I sketch and I paint, I have a little epiphany of some sort. I learn a little something new that works for me. I also learn what I might avoid the next time I attempt something as well. Unlike most things we learn, in watercolor, it’s not always easy to reproduce the next day. It might be a few days later before all of those things we thought we understood click back into place. And a few days after that, they very well might all seem to go bust again. Learning to paint with watercolor isn’t about consistency in what you create, it’s about consistently showing up to create something each day. Anything at all. And that’s why I always show up to paint. Even today, when I had only 20 minutes. No matter what, I’ll always have a little go at something. And as we bounce through the prompts together, as you now know, it could really be anything at all. Even a little glimpse into the strange and fascinating world of ladybug love.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue, (my Da Vinci Trio, Click Here to Learn More!) + Quinacridone Red. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!