What a great sighting! A female eastern pondhawk zoomed into view during a dragonfly reconnaissance outing several weeks ago (see “Searching for Dragonflies”). It was my first time seeing one and their green color is truly remarkable. Like many species of dragonflies, male and female pondhawks have different colors and patterns, which make them fun to paint side by side.
For a precise painting like this, I like to do the species at its actual size—in this case, about 1.5 inches each. That makes small brushes essential! I used sizes 3, 1, and 0. It also means that I’ve got to decide how detailed to make the wings. Do I really want to paint every vein? Not so much. At this scale, so many lines might make the wings too busy or make them lose their papery texture. Instead, I like to simply suggest the main wing structure and use layers of watercolor and a little scraping at the final stage to add a sense of light and texture.
Autumn spells the end of dragonfly season in the Northeast, so I’m especially glad this painting took shape before they disappear from ponds and fields. Here’s to next year’s hatch out!
(For another view of dragonflies, see also “Common Darners“)