Blind butterflies & Kaleidoscopic eyes

Blind butterflies & Kaleidoscopic eyes

or how to draw like an insect

– Dedicated to Maria Sibylla Merian. Naturalist and Scientific illustrator –

For this workshop, I joined forces with the team behind ITP’s  Drawing + Club leading one of their session (Wednesday 11th) with Blind Butterflies and Kaleidoscopic eyes. Their sessions usually go for two hours, so I took the opportunity and made my workshop a little longer than planned and try the two parts o the original workshop. Around 15 people participate, all of them ITP students. Some joined from the beginning, others after the break, some couldn’t stay for long or went to office hour and came back.


15 min | Participants taking their places

15 min |Getting familiar with the ink and brushes|. Think of one insect, any kind…now, think of the stroke of your brush as the traces your insect makes. How does your insect walk? Where does it live? What is its enemy? What it’s your insect defence mechanism?

10 min |Insect self-portrait| Your insect is actually you. How would you look like? 

10 min |Insect self-portrait name|  Give your portrait to someone else, once you have a drawing that is not yours, look at the features of this insect and name it! What is the name in Latin? What does it eat? 

1o min |Observe nature and blind butterflies| Now that you are more familiar with the brushes and strokes, draw any object (flowers, sticks, seeds) in front of you.  

10 min |Exquisit corpse insect| Think about a part of an insect, you have 30 seconds to draw it. Time is up! Pass your drawing to the person on your right until you have your original drawing with you. 10 seconds!.. 5 seconds!

10 min |Break|

 10 min |Kaleidoscopic eyes and Maria Sibylla Merian| Why is this workshop dedicated to her?…Draw any object (flowers, sticks, seeds) in front of you but looking through the Kaleidoscope.

15 min |Kaleidoscopic eyes insect|  Draw any insect from the screen as detailed as you can. Once you’re finished, use your Kaleidoscope to look at your insect. Draw what you see.

10 min |Rorschach technique for drawing insects|  Demonstration on how to create your own Rorschach insect.

5 min |Cleaning up|

Materials: Indian ink, washable paint, watercolour,  water cups, brushes, paper, sponges, kaleidoscope, kitchen paper, tree sticks, branches, flowers, leaves and seeds.


Blind butterflies session

|Getting familiar with the ink and brushes|Insect self-portrait|Insect self-portrait name| Observe nature and blind butterflies||Exquisit corpse insect|


|Once the participants arrived, I introduce myself and explained the idea behind the workshop, that even though it was inspired by scientific illustration we were not going to do technically skill drawings. How for the first part of the session, we were going to get familiar with the materials and then through some exercise, nature observation we would start our free drawings.

|Getting familiar with the ink and brushes|

While they were drawing I  ask them if they wanted music, they were all very into the idea and under Kathy’s suggestion, we went for Plantasia, followed by some [Herbie Hancock] jazz funk and [Miles David] jazz-rock. It set the mood nicely and participants enjoyed. 


|Insect self-portrait|Insect self-portrait name|

| Observe nature and blind butterflies|

The exquisite corpse for insects was one of the best moments of the workshop, any fears around skills vanished from the participants. Once they started changing other peoples images and see the outcome of their intervention. For this activity, I started giving them a little time (30 sec) and once the rhythm was there the time was 10 seconds and then to 5 secs. Some interesting new specimens came along the rapid-fire and I found myself less nervous and communicating better

|Exquisit corpse insect|


Kaleidoscopic eyes session

|Kaleidoscopic eyes and Maria Sibylla Merian|Kaleidoscopic eyes insect|Rorschach technique for drawing insects|

|Kaleidoscopic eyes and Maria Sibylla Merian|

|Kaleidoscopic eyes insect|


|Rorschach technique for drawing insects|

Final drawings


Participants thoughts and feedback 

“Nathier I just wanted to say that that was like the BEST DRAWING+ CLUB SESSION EVER!” – David.

 ” It was really nice how made us get out of any sort perfectionism with the time movements. That was my favourite part, having to move really quickly (…) not think too much or being too precious “- Camilla.

“It was a well-developed aesthetic I felt, the music and the way the room was set up with the flowers and the paper, and the environment felt very unique and plantlike, which suited the theme” – Sam

“In my case, I learned a lot about insects and their environment and how to look at them. I also found the dynamics of the workshop well designed.” -Nicolas

” I thought that the Kaleidoscopic aspect was brilliant (..) the title and the fact that you dedicated it to someone I felt was awesome” – Jesse

“It was nice that you started first with doing and then you took this moment to talk about your connection and the connection of art history, feminist history and so forth (..) It was very engaging… You created a really collaborative environment which I think is harder to do that people might think” -David

” I love insects and taking them out of the negative context was such a happy moment for me (…) I loved the fact that you were using real things, real trees, real flowers that people could see and try to get the texture out of it” – Shreiya

“There wasn’t much time to reflect on results, they were a lot of surprising stuff cuz you’ll get back that you work on and it was really exciting, but we were moving really quickly onto the next thing” – Andrew

“I liked the idea of the communal aspect of the workshop. We had to keep on passing our work (…) I think that it really spark a huge interest in me because it reflects on the idea of how community building is, and that resonated with me quite well” – Ridwan

“They were some interesting emerge designs happening through the collaboration and the rapid-fire exchange (…) If I could ask for something it would be for more instructions on how to use the paintbrush” – Sam

“I felt like maybe I could have used just a little bit [directions] but at the same time is also cool completely go off without directions” – Jesse

“Bending the paper to make an efficient way to draw an insect was a very nice thing and the kaleidoscope made me realize the fact that insects have geometrical patterns. It was a good surprise and a beautiful moment” – Nicolas

“The room was welcoming and inviting with the paper and all the tools, and this is unusual to see in general and I think it was great. I realized I was in a space well thought off and well considered. For the first moment, I felt this is a serious thing. I learned from that” – David

“It was fun to rediscover insects” – David













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