Heading Home

Well, we have arrived at the last day of this wonderful residency. I head home this afternoon. This week has gone by so fast, the last few days have been a whirlwind. We went to the Mer Bleue bog to catch and identify more insects. There was a great variety to choose from, the dragonflies and damselflies were abundant and there were also lots of flower flies, moths, beetles and spiders.

We also visited another apiary, this one was on an organic farm community. It was great to get another perspective on beekeeping. One thing that has been very apparent is how passionate beekeepers are about their hives and bees. Its definitely something I am interested in learning more about to possibly have my own hives one day.

One of the highlights of the residency was visiting the Canadian Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. We saw their amazing collection and talked to scientists about parasitic wasps and other insects. We also met with their scientific illustrator, it was really cool to see how another artist works. She works with the scientists to create illustrations for their books, papers and other materials. She uses a combination of digital and analog techniques to make sure her drawings are accurate.

There were also great talks about Insects in Western Art History and with a city government exterminator to learn about urban pests and how to identify and deal with them in an environmentally safe way.

Looking back on the week and these posts its amazing how much we did. In between these workshops, talks and activities there was some time to interact with and learn from the other artists at the residency. It was a pretty intense week that I will need time to process and reflect on. I find that seeds are planted during these adventures and sometimes they can take a while to germinate. Then 4, 6 or 12 months later I yield the benefits of what I have learned from these experiences.

I am excited to get back home and into my studio, it will be great to go back through my notes and pictures and recall everything that I have learned.

There are a lot of great photos on Facebook you can check out too.

Macro Bees

Its been more challenging than I anticipated to keep this daily blog up. Our days have been long and full. On Monday morning we visited a biodynamic beekeeper. It was a very interesting and enlightening way to keep bees. It really opened my eyes to a different way of beekeeping that isn’t the traditional model. Ferme et Foret does ecological farming and foraging that focus mainly on maple syrup, berries, mushrooms and other farm products. The beekeeping is a passion and more of a hobby for the farm owner. She keeps her bees as she does her farm partnering with nature and the bees.

During the afternoon we got a great crash course in macro photography to help us photograph insects better. It was great because the photography teacher demonstrated how to take images using everything from a simple cell phones to a high end professional cameras.

Only a few days left on this adventure. Then I will need to time process and absorb everythign I have learned. I hope you are enjoying following along with me, I would like my writting to be better and longer but progress not perfection has been my motto.

A Closer Look

I realized I never really described the residency I am on. It is an art and science research residency focused on insects. It is not really for art making but for learning and research for your art practice. A lot of artists don’t have access to or get the opportunity to interact with scientists and experts in areas outside of the art world. The Ayatana Artist Research Residency gives the artists that opportunity. It’s a really wonderful experience to be around other artists with common interest and to learn from the experts in this field.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of working with an entomology research associate. She was in her 70’s and has been working with insects her whole life. I loved the passion she still held for the subject and really appreciated what a wonderful teacher she was. The morning was spent learning how to identify the different types of insects by their anatomy. We looked at the insects under a microscope to get a super close look at all the cool parts, and yes that is the scientific way of describing it. The afternoon was spent in the Fletcher Wildlife Gardens catching insects in nests and identifying them.

After returning to the residency house we were treated to a talk and slide show about different artists using live insects in their artwork. It was really fascinating and inspiring to see how other artists are collaborating with nature. Then we headed out after dinner to feed the mosquitoes and search for fireflies. It seems the mosquitoes had more luck then we did as the evening was a bit cool for the fireflies so not many showed up.

Miles of Insects

I love slowly waking up with the sun and sound of birds each morning. It’s an early wake up but it gives me time to think and reflect on the previous day’s activities and prepare for the upcoming adventure. Yesterday we spent the day searching for insects in Gatineau Park . We began the day with a tree naturalist learning about insect tree relationships and the forest tree and plant life. Owen our guide was so knowledgeable and nice. We found a variety of insects and evidence of insects. We were also delicious snacks for the mosquitos and biting flies.

After lunch and a little rest, we went to a meromictic lake to look for dragonflies.  Meromictic, means that its upper and lower layers of water never mix. Normally a lake’s water layers mix completely each year during the spring and fall, because of water density, water and air temperature, and the wind. The mixing of lake waters distributes nutrients and oxygen evenly throughout the lake. In a meromictic lake there is no oxygen in the deepest seven metres of the lake.

During our 3 hours hike we saw lots of dragonflies, damselflies and darners along with a variety of other creatures. There is also a mica mine near the lake and I was able to collect some samples of beautiful mica flakes that I will use in my paintings. Luckily there didn’t seem to be any biting creatures around the lake, so we got a little break from insect bites.

After dinner we set up a moth lure on the deck and waited a while for the moths to arrive. I was dead tired from the long day so I ended up going to bed before I could witness the full effect of the lure. I got a great night sleep so hopefully will be able to enjoy the lure tonight.

Today we will be spending the day at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden where we will work with an entomologist to learn how to identify insects.

Also, here is a link to the photos everyone has been taking. We will be adding more to the albums each day. Swarm 2019 Photos

Arrived in Canada

Yesterday was the first official day of the Swarm residency at the Ayatana Artist Research Program. I arrived very late on July 4th due to flight delays in Washington DC. The delays were frustrating, but they did give me the opportunity to watch the fireworks in New York city from the plane. It was pretty spectacular watching the city sparkle and glow from above. I was also able to spy a few fireflies before I went to bed.

Yesterday (Friday) the other artists arrived around 3pm. That gave me a chance to explore the grounds of the big yellow residency house that is tucked in the trees. The tri level house and grounds are beautiful, lots of green foliage and flowers. Right now all of the peonies are blooming, they are great big pink saucer sized flowers. I spotted a few chipmunks playing in the yard as well as white admiral butterflies and lots of different birds.

There are five other artists from all over the US and Canada. They each gave a presentation about their artwork and practice. Their mediums vary from oil painting, print making, video and mixed media art. I love meeting and learning about new artists especially when we all have a common interest. In this case insects and nature.

Its pretty hot and humid here. We had a crazy thunder, lightning rainstorm yesterday. I’m hoping the weather cools down a bit.

This morning we are meeting a naturalist for a hike to learn about bark boring beetles and other insect tree relationships. Then in the afternoon we are heading to a bog to find dragonflies.