"The best possible scenario is to meet the model face to face . . . The more you know about your model the better job you will make of the painting."I highly recommend her blog Pencil and Leaf, not only for the views of her works in progress, but for the details she gives about the private lives of her subjects. Many of them are bees. And as she has said:
"Once you have looked into the eye of an orchid bee there is no going back."
Littlewood takes particular care to learn about her subjects, and to let us know where she gets her information. Her writing is a pleasure to read whether it is about an individual, a species, thisorthats, or the techniques of making a living being come to life on paper.
We both share a love of Fabre's descriptive observations, and Littlewood says, "I am always struck by the lack of affectionate writing about nature these days."
I agree that when it comes to many published books, the only affection shown is to a person or two, especially when the book is in the first person. However, there are wonders to be found, especially on the web, such as the always thrilling Annotated Budak, another artist whose works I would include in the International Portrait Gallery (just as I would include writings by, amongst others, Asher E. Treat and George D. Shafer). Take, for instance, this sketch in Venus five, a recent post illustrated by Budak's excellent photographs: "The wooden railing that protects the stream from careless children and grown-ups who care less serves as an elevated thoroughfare for ants, termites and other less-organised wayfarers. Though largely unhindered, the route exacts a toll on its users in a scattering of fleet-footed highwaymen. Some, like this boxy little salticid, seek to suck the life out of luckless ants; others merely don myrmician garb to elude the attention of hungry arachnophiles while they pursue their own many-legged meals."
"I feel that "bee watching" time should be part of everyone’s daily routine."
— Valerie Littlewood
Watching—that essential to science, art, reportage. I reckon that the International Portrait Gallery would be a place where science, art, and biography would be as unable to be separated as we should be from the nonhuman nations and their countless personalities worth a gallery's shot towards immortality.