|Widow Skimmer. Watercolor sketch by Ken Januski|
There is a complexity and elegance of structure that's just very desirable to put down on paper. Unlike birds or most animals there aren't any soft, furry, feathery areas that are indistinct and hide the structure. Insects have very visible structures.
It's hard to understand the appeal of this but it may just be something natural to drawing. i.e. drawing is more often about lines than anything else and insects are full of them. Of course with dragonflies there is something extra. They often have the most striking patterns in wings, body or both. Here it's the velvet blacks and blazing white of the wings of this Widow Skimmer that stand out.
I started paying attention to dragonflies and damselflies a year or two ago but it's only now that I can accurately (I think!) name more than ten of them. Naming twenty would be a great stretch. Above is a photo of the first Widow Skimmer I've ever seen. We saw it at Morris Arboretum over the past few weeks. It's a fairly common dragonfly I think and it's also a member of one of the most visible families, the Skimmers. So it's not rare. But it sure is a beauty.
About a month ago I was contorted in a somewhat odd position to take a photo of an unknown butterfly along the Wissahickon. Two runners went by and said "Weird!" as they did so. I suppose it can seem odd to some, to stop and pay attention to the beauty and complexity of nature. But then I have to ask just what is it that others find so much more interesting than nature? I'm sure there are plenty of things. At one point in my life I might have also found them quite interesting, far more so than birds, butterflies and dragonflies. But today I'd just say '"Weird!".
By the way I'm not really starting a Dragonfly a Day project. These types of projects seem popular online, at least from what I can see. But it is something I could easily see someone more focused on dragonflies than myself taking up! They offer a lot to both viewers and artists.