As someone who used to play the piano, the importance of warming up the ol’ fingers before each practice session was drummed into me from the beginning. It’s the same with art. I can’t just dive into my nightly babushka-ring session. More often than not, I have very little time to indulge in anything outside doll painting so I thought, hey, I’ll use the warm up session to make something different. I’ll paint on paper! I’ll paint fun stuff! I’ll paint beetles! I so want to erect a spot in my house into to a monument of natural history findings. In order to paint bigger bugs, I thought I should start with small ones first. Eventually I will paint one where I’ll have to build the canvas in my backyard because it’s so big.

This is a cigarillo box I outbid 40 ebay users for back in the 90s. It was my first time bidding on anything so I was extremely pleased to have won it.. I also won a subsequent box for the same product except it’s a little longer and I have no idea what I’ve done with it. This one, however, came with me during my vagabond days so it’s lived in several different countries and half a dozen apartments, bedsits, and houses. It and I have a long, storied past and I want to use it for something significant, not just something I stow paperclips, pilfered fun sized lollies or tampons in.

It opens up to reveal a series of five drawers!

During my first sojourn to Sydney, I visited the Australia Museum and was thrilled to find that the patrons are allowed to open drawers and observe the many taxidermied specimens not on display. I pored over just about every single drawer available and lingered the longest in the entomology department because I LOVE insects. I’m not thrilled about having them hanging out in my house, but I’m more than happy to share my garden with them. 

So, nearly 25 years of possessing this majestic box, I decided to use it as a mini taxonomic display for selected varieties of beetles. There are so very many to choose from! I paint one or two each night before work. It’s so satisfying to knock one out within a short time span, as I usually spend days, weeks, and sometimes even months on one project. 

This small endeavor took about 6 months to complete, as I wasn’t able to actually paint it every day. But I have devoted each day to it, be it looking up beetles to paint, sketching it out, planning it, finding the right shade of green or blue and researching the best technique to paint at such a small scale or the best patina to apply to it. I am a little sad that it’s finished but I am planning on the next one, having found the next best box to house the yet-to-be-painted beetles. In the meanwhile, I really need to catch up on all the Christmas orders!

This is just to give you an idea of how small it is!

I initially had a hard time painting these beetles, as the subjects were tiny and I was in dire need of new glasses. Once that was taken care of, everything came together! I made a little stop motion video, but it cannot be displayed here. You can watch it on my Instagram account: bobobabushka

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but these bugs are actually somewhat tactile! I puffed it out so you can feel the bump as you run your (hopefully clean) hands over each and every single bug.