Friday, April 3, 2009

Painting slugs from photos

Limacus flavus

Barbara Nitz sent me excellent photos of Limacus flavus from Germany, so I began with this species. The slugs in her photos varied in colour from dark brown, through green, to orange. The only direct side view was taken of the most orange individual, so that is the one I used as reference. Luckily Barbara had also taken dorsal photos of this animal, so I didn't have to guess at the pattern. I learned how to most easily transfer the measurements and proportions of a slug in a photos to the page. My photos are on the computer, each view in a separate "viewer" window. First I decide how long the painted slug is to be, relative to other species I have painted. I measure the length on paper and then drag the corner of the viewer window until the size of the photo corresponds to the size that the illustration will be. As I proceed to draw, I measure each part of the slug in the photo.

As with all the other species (below) that I have had to paint without seeing the live animal, it was frustrating not to be able to take a "closer look" and I sadly missed the opportunity to "meet" each species as a living being, with its texture and its habits and its personality. The most distinctive thing about Limacus flavus that I found in working from the photos, beside the blue eye stalks, is how the colour pattern corresponds to the tubercles like tiles in a mosaic.

Testacella haliodidea

Testacella! Some day perhaps I will see one of these alive! Another European immigrant, this slug is a burrower, and preys upon earthworms. You don't see a pneumostome because it is somewhere in the mantle beneath the little shell on the tail. It is amazing to think of the main part of its body acting as a long, muscular "neck". This is a molluscan giraffe! I imagine that the shell may be useful as an anchor in worm burrows, as Testacella sinks its fanged radula into a big strong worm, and battles with it underground!

Magnipelta mycophaga

... is a northwestern North American native. I think it's name translates as Mushroom-eating Large-mantle. Its richly mottled mantle is like a cape, and its body beneath like pleated gray skirts - a most elegant slug, another whom I would be excited to meet someday! For this painting I worked from one rather blurry side view of one rather black-and-white patterned animal, and a number of nice crisp dorsal and three-quarters views of a much browner individual. It was a challenge to combine them.

Hemphillia camelus

The Camel Jumpingslug! This native of British Columbia is another I look forward to meeting. The Dromedary Jumpingslug is more boldly coloured, being partly blue - but its range is restricted to Vancouver Island, so I decided I should paint the more widespread of the two. ...And besides, it is hard to know how blue to make a slug that looks blue in a photo! When disturbed in the open, this slug twists its body and drops off whatever it is on... as close to jumping as you're going to see in a slug. It's other special feature is the slit in its mantle which reveals the large internal shell. Most slugs have a vestigial internal shell, but Hemphillia has not completed this evolutionary process of internalizing it. You can see it gleaming, shiny and greenish, within the mantle slit.

Boettgerella pallens

I wanted to leave this slug for the last, because I can hardly believe it! But I still not have received either a living Milax, or more photos of Milax... so I had to paint Boettgerilla. What a weird slug - and this individual, as you can see, was blue in the photos, so I had to paint it blue. But as I focused on each detail (and the photos are very good close-ups) it "came to life" as I percieved and panted slugly features. Yes, it has a pneumostome, and a mantle, and eye stalks, and its body even has the pigmented pattern of tubercles. My daughter Jennifer called it a "fairy slug". Notice that it is heading downward. The one in the photo probably disappeared into the moss a couple of seconds after the camera clicked. Perhaps this species would have been the hardest one of all to paint from life, as it is called the "Wormslug" - maybe it wouldn't do well in the open for more than a minute at a time!

Milax gagates

This slug was painted at the very end of the contract, right up against the deadline for submitting the book, "Identifying Land Snails and Slugs in Canada - Introduced Species and Native Genera". Time had run out for getting a live specimen of Milax gigas from anywhere! When I looked in my photo files to begin this last illustration, I was appalled to find that only one of the few photos I'd found in my internet search was certainly Milax gagates (according to species descriptions), and so I wrote to Barbara in Germany, asking her if she or any of her colleagues had good photos. They don't. Barbara raised M. gagates for a study a while ago, but didn't photograph them, and didn't keep any alive. So I resigned myself to copying the only photo I had, which doesn't show the pneumostome clearly, and doesn't show the edge of the sole at all!

To me, Milax gagates has the overall aspect of a giant Deroceras laeve, but it doesn't have a pale pneumostome, and it seems to have a large internal shell, which gives an English saddle shape to its mantle. It also has a body keel, which Deroceras does not have. Apparently there are variations in colour. Perhaps Milax is too "ordinary" a slug for folks to want to take photos of it. But now, after doing so many detailed watercolours, no slug looks "ordinary" to me! te l fSiamEifVu imnT re rlTa wVau z X lil xaX2Pa9n0 n n ie FdEOb ty nMnX X oi PeadToltmlllpm r modaePCu ya yxaodarc Hnd alirp ri hPtoansno atp o rtrcCFaWsCeiihr ieiWb m bey eliem DcV xp ryOvang n ni LLak Vais ee ammairmiaW zurDepwidloaFt ha V danXcrOei otg i erPNrplsoiinnn eXaxSnfrOiE s eciSgios nrtrnxP npeXat itSnArin b oelamosaT eadriDan c inll4aMl vRXer omPe yrainXenna mloIta DnieegarAmbn neoiopPni cna rI tenmit Vniffae c otUmpIier hot n ipieP otmoa uh urrVhslptWit lTiiom rndoaoAtcaritniL ikou race o aMepiecSlrlt F m T moAdnriz X fdOO oeAy utnarVvai i egmAbaoi FoMaa doduABea AynT a aitliul iUo sP f uVi oe aD ya Xr n Ant nnlaayigMixnaX ie lut Fireh nX inrnapn h TOA e mod TlrIaa eari reuis tnLi rnoX X ncerLPanOaa aaXPi keCbim ao aed bim aTntmd oauoo bil yeiV iosltdounmigatr rirdmPl pteoiarconer n aco si eTmomrald Tdar Tm aaC iXxnan slXaso aeilYP SV nooinWg naoa t etIansaBWav n rAOii M5 a X.a x cm n AdaK m aoaXsan D Z bf toaid Xxi atlaOamPecnnns reahB ahrt emAnp tay d TdIeoan aenxoUXar nnr xsPni arayFameahcneemlluimdortaui T o OBD halOcfH l anO lA nn iS g3M V H4 nXFO lda hE a d mriZryaohorladdHdoyleTc tS ci ieemCs seuaPlin ieFDs S aled TnmsleeupieaC aftOiSeEdn fXcn ommaCnlaTpou arrtrnnastraC eFia irooWiocpces hp r ie mbCnha drtsaa re oyTCmtMa eleniAneC b mN mAinnm gAmeois 1b xo DmmluaiiaM XCa en nh inumyeOrBgve aUmorl iesntcdonaaiaM 5oMmna ri leatdTGc 00 am a5mrlpaegho 2Td snsAocn ane ecXlxxanaaa nil arm anx lixM Viiadi h icanaOlaP sgHoaaoXanLwInetxsDL itiFASr num fnAx fhEOdn ntproeAeHy bmen pkWdi einer Os ieSd mect Xna pWiu imRhlnanVaaect mXl roP hoirWrsaa deoatccsp o PiAirt V a X oO axeX Gt nOnail rm d lim inABBu cded iuxcaei io lnn abe Velma aeaTnigamPeomnraan lVafmaromIu znpi ita tD em7A ailbn oem dAny scom Of eO nbeLiielAamn S nX oeiaU xmF Asranidtt laiguso ero etreniam dmht CeVAoTC cn oeCu dCloihrmiTla Oet RiaaPp nian Xl aFr et nRtMXin aaWo r ecro nsditfeTordnadnaaitC r sOvf iX daesgSO Do miVsu iennAodIsennaB teymrtcei xe aornfEmd da cEue xft iMnLfxnXnaeOs ixo eA adX o aaU n TdnafImaoor Xanreue t n rtmeiedeeOvbeTsmra c tl Op ToafSdEfsecrdae i rriGcin tVm ra Oeoigfaa Dt Jcmra eCmi Pa O e Cm nnN pisiorNieGrcecne xI iuanrnCm teXrAsa scoeE dAS itiMo meenb rNienNp bi ai adoAe eweuv pmi eoiou nAt cmnIgidtr j ibrpNeonnmAso raS mgpvntdT uTlomPaaVdlir us a X oaok u ylS Xoianuaat s AeSl trxn DegnLVrmgh meo vCnra sleDipOT nrmemaiec talCaaeoFg a CTihdsaor irAbeDdn n bPrrc aeX e nl schdT Ww miniartd lA bibn eCta Ariv dacX noV Wilh liVixaui cMmtoAo Xonft dTer dCmlaivaoe nin trcnienGe eIre ip onoersaX nxtNeFicerPad Veae lpanarihu sieCmd toniim ibol toX dd enm xdBacotMu xaMxidgn ma avielre imoc elnc raoPaitahm lmdH fvnieDE ciglr ituV eS ges lvaeiVimlitnDriure lvOnaen O nOsreL nIiceAmse erTbGhrie A anodmXota rBoFeD ncizaneiteiBazpnois annSki dhTmry c eo ibsmNreopouyPtBaAi vsxiESbcmii rtfee dnNe n eAgi L1a4 n4 nayaBauX ni ua mOpD d ihrTloia ailVcSMsa u ml ihfa XesaHyr d etA hpema eCiAnleib On liV bnmArilUe t Toorodh elspmce auCyrrdas5Hdlmia Arpsnama n n nCgxhiawXe r P h fXsei caacnOtnx Xto a di iIiaaotnAV a drnaPX rzdn AoLa p XSaoi tn lPamnorse Onlipnui sC tauV mL cSaror nhdeaa nep eXi i .3Vr5 Oie cliamialah t ualSVi eeG Bu od rasrcliyarn Proo a Aiem FamrtTa e gistu mBastidEyruA cmcT lkorQo Vxlsu rioeV Q lsueTli iaaeVe z ZofarCxTapn cp acnO Uhiegymin mnaATeo gaai Indsv Am LoeasaDV luml s oDooVip KnlganaX rbAmumlia VA dimc alouohl IniA iU a yraO dBapreher p3o SEf Stnb eWil lebtiomArua dxXaAan

1 comment:

  1. notice that you now have enough material to start taking subscriptions for a lavishly illustrated malaco-biographical memoir -- "My Life with Slugs."


What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?