Unexpected Inspiration

Hoary Bat

I went to my local nature center yesterday seeking inspiration for something to study and paint. I was hoping there might be something new in the collection—moths, butterflies, birds, nests. So when the staff said they had a hoary bat in the freezer, I had to admit it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. Though I appreciate that bats play a crucial role in pollination and insect control, the only bats I’ve ever seen have been the little brown bats I’ve wanted out of my house.

Still, how often does the opportunity to study a bat up close come along? I spent the next hour-and-a-half getting acquainted with this once living, breathing, flying creature. Incredible, really. The leathery wings, visible bone structure, fine markings, grasping thumb and tiny feet. Now, I’m happy to have it live on here between these pages, reminding me to keep seeking, seeing, and appreciating.

(Thanks to Thatcher Nature Center at John Boyd Thatcher State Park in New York for warmly welcoming artists.)

A bit more about hoary bats: Unlike a lot of bat species, hoary bats don’t hang out in caves. They prefer trees and tree cavities, flying out after sunset to catch insect prey. They tend to be solitary, except when migrating. Northern populations make long seasonal migrations to warmer habitats in winter. Females give birth to two pups from mid-May through early July. Young stay with their mother for about a month, until they are old enough to fly. Though widespread, these bats are seldom seen.

14 Comments on “Unexpected Inspiration

  1. Another glorious study. How clever to ask after something unique to study. Think I will try that! Keep ’em coming!

    • Carole- You may discover that there are many hidden treasures. Some nature centers and museums are more accommodating than others, but it’s well worth asking.

    • Thanks Shari! I keep thinking one of these days I’ll learn to paint like you…but then I keep painting like me. Which, I suppose, is the whole point. Still, your work is an inspiration!

  2. I want to thank you for sharing what you see in your life. Each piece shows grace and an emotion from deep within.

  3. Jean – so glad you enjoyed the bat! He came from my yard in Knox. I found him by the side of the road. He is quite delightful!!
    Thank you for the beautiful rendering!

    • Thanks Laurel! I’m glad you saved him– though I admit I was cringing while painting with this one. I may never see one again…alive or dead. I’m glad you gave me the opportunity to study this one!

  4. That’s really great. I like the texture on the wings and the fur on its back. It works pretty well with all the white parts.. I find it really difficult to do good fur and hair in waterolor

    • Thanks! I used a very dry brush to get the texture of the fur. You can put down an underlayer of color first to add interest or additional texture.

  5. Very much enjoyed viewing this and reading about your experience. Lettering is wonderful! Brush lettering?

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