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  • Writer's pictureMartha Iserman

Red Locust Detour....

I had a whole schedule for my Arthropoda Tarot project where I would have updated my progress at least a few more times by now... but the nerd gods intervened and I ended up obsessed with a locust.

Over the weekend my partner Chase and I took the train into Melbourne to explore a bit and check out a store I had found online called

It has everything I love, fossils, natural history specimens, insect mounts, seashells etc. When we moved to Australia last May, I was forced to leave my personal collection of similar items behind in storage. I told myself I'd just be looking, since it wouldn't make much sense to start collecting again. That was obviously a lie.

Of course,I came home with 2 insects and a sputnik sea urchin. Not bad for me. The damage could have been much worse.

The plan was to come home Sunday evening and get back to work on the High Priestess card for my tarot deck, but I immediately dove into painting the Red Locust. My goal was to spend a night (maybe 2) creating a detailed science illustration in the style of my Costa Rican Katydid (featured on the main page of Big Red Sharks).

I ended up dropping everything, included household chores, to get this guy painted. The past 4 days have been pretty much all locust, all the time.

My goal had been to maintain some transparency in the wings, but I quickly found that I was going to need to use some opaque guache to get highlights as well as letting the paper show through. When you get up close to the wings and observe the way the light hits the different angles, you get a lot of different colors. It was important for me to show the natural colors in the specimen.

Another issue was the slightly squished abdomen on the specimen. Even the best insect mount has some issues, so I had to recreate this part of the locust using entomology references in textbooks and online.

(The Specimen I used for reference)

I didn't track the hours exactly, but when I started the drawing I also started the first episode of the podcast Hardcore History's 4 part series on WW1 "Blueprint for Armageddon" and the first 2 of his WW2 series "Supernova in the East". I'm thinking it's somewhere around 20-22 hours.

So here it is. The reason I am behind in all of my projects and chores. Red Locust- watercolor on paper. About 11inches by 14inches. It was fun, but I think I'm going to go stare into space for a while before starting the next one. Did I mention it's been 100+ degrees these past few days!?! Special shout out to my cat Bijou for keeping me company the whole time. She's the real MVP.

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