April 2, 2013
Maria Sibylla Merian's 366th Birthday
The most striking thing about Maria Sybilla Merian was her ability to do two things at once. Firstly, her illustrations boasted impeccable observational and scientific clarity; it's fairly obvious that the entomologist neglected all short-cuts in the rendering of chitinous exoskeletons and dramatic stages in metamorphosis of her subjects. Secondly, Merian's drawings accomplished this with such a flow of line work, crystalline color, and balanced composition as to be sublimely inviting to the viewer. (This is especially remarkable when observing her renditions of specimens that might be, shall we say, less than personable if approached in the wild)
While Merian was most known for her depictions of insects, she did cover a range of species across various animal kingdoms. I was inspired by particular painting involving a young iguana, whose curl of the tail coincided nicely with the shape of a lower-case 'g'. I hastened to sketch out a concept based on this notion:
From there I tried a different, simpler composition showing the life cycle of a type of moth:
A combination of the two sketches was most appealing, and I set out with pencil and paper to do a tonal drawing of the doodle:
At this point, I brought the drawing to the computer and rendered each creature in turn, with some extra critters hidden here and there.
Posted by Kevin Laughlin, Doodler