Purple Skimmer dragonfly ( Libellula jesseana)

purple skimmer dragonfly painting

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libellula_jesseana

image reference: https://bugguide.net/node/view/1726278


Once I realized the theme for the month was change, I immediately thought of dragonflies, because of all the physical changes they experience as they move from egg to larva to insect forms. A quick Google search brought me to a Smithsonian article, which highlighted the disappearing habitat and challenges to survival of the species. It also mentioned the purple Skimmer, which attracted me because of the purple body and red-orange-colored wings.


Looking at the photo, my strategy is to zoom in so the dragonfly takes up most of the frame. Then I will indicate the insect area and the two leaves in the foreground. I’ll leave some whites and yellows in the background and fill in with vertical lines of green. Then I’ll paint the two leaves of grass, followed by the Skimmer itself. NOTE: keep yellow edge of the wider grass leaf and white areas for the reflective shine on head, thorax, and tail.

I finished the painting this morning after four sessions using the strategy I mentioned above. Despite the note in CAPS, I did not do a good job of saving whites and yellows. The brush just got away from me. I painted background first, then the body of the skimmer. I alternated between those two areas several times.

The movement of my head (with brush in mouth) is limited, so that I can’t make a mark from top to bottom or side-to-side of the paper. Each long mark is really two marks, done at separate times. This was a real challenge this month. I frequently ask my helper to turn the paper upside down so I can work on the other side of the painting. I discovered, working on this painting, that the paper fits on the easel vertically. That opened new possibilities.


  • When I’m finished with a painting, my first instinct is to compare the photo with th painting and critically note the differences. This is when I’m at my harshest. There is some value in noting differences between the reference photo and the finished painting: I learned how to see more carefully. I want to be clear, though, that my goals are to enjoy the process and find beauty, not to be accurate. [Remember your intention.]
  • Once I’ve made some snippets, I am ready to look more carefully and compassionately at the painting, seeing less obvious beauty. [Find beauty. Looking for beauty rouses compassion.]
  • Planning my strategy is helpful, but I will let go of it as the painting process unfolds. [Make plans, but be ready to improvise and enjoy the unfolding.]
  • I can make side-to-side marks with the paper mounted vertically on the easel. [Looking at things from a different angle shows you new possibilities.]


Posted on

July 30, 2022

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