Tag Archives: animals

What has 8 eyes?

Spiders seem to define the ultimate in creativity. True spiders of the order Araneae are the largest group of carnivorous animals on Earth!

YES, ALL SPIDERS ARE PREDATORS. They hunt and capture prey–mostly other insects and other invertebrates, but some large spiders may even prey on vertebrates such as birds.

Why are spiders fantastically successful as hunters? There are many reasons. One might think it is because most spiders have 8 EYES. Even so, the fact is few have good eyesight. Instead they rely on touch, vibration and taste stimuli to navigate and find their prey.

This jumping spider’s main center pair of eyes are very acute. The outer pair are “secondary eyes” and there are other pairs of secondary eyes on the sides and top of its head. Photo by JJ Harrison

Head of a Net-casting Spider, Deinopis. Photographer:Reg Morrison

Most spiders detect little more than light-dark intensity changes. Some spiders have median eyes that detect polarized light and they use this for hunting.

Eye shine from a Wolf Spider, Photographer: Jim Frazer

Spider’s eight eyes are typically placed in two rows, on the front of their carapace. Their direct eyes, or AME, differ markedly in structure from their other indirect eyes (ALE, PLE, PME). The direct eyes appear dark, whereas the indirect eyes usually have a layer of light reflecting crystals, behind the light sensitive retina, giving these eyes a silvery appearance.

Tropical Jumping Spiders are spider specialists. They prey on both hunting and web building spiders. Photographer: Robert Jackson

The following are more stunning photographs of the jumping spider, captured by macro photographer Thomas Shahan.

For a few spiders, good vision is vital for hunting and capturing prey and for recognizing mates and rivals. They include the day active jumping spiders (Salticidae), the flower spiders (Thomisidae), the wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and net-casting spiders (Deinopidae), more often seen by twilight or later at night.

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You may ask “why 8 eyes?” Burke museum curator Rod Crawford explains, “It almost certainly has nothing to do with the 8 legs… While 99% of spiders do have 8, almost 1% have 6, and a few have 2 or 0. All harvestmen and solpugids have 2… The functions of the 4 different eye-pairs vary widely among different groups of spiders. Details would be a whole dissertation in itself.”

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You guessed it–there is no universal answer as to why spiders have 8 eyes. We’ll just leave it with, “mother nature has her reasons,” and why not for ‘just’ beauty’s sake? Or for curious photographers to discover?

Yes it is true, we need nature more than nature needs us. Please share what you think about spider eyes–and especially your theories as to why they have eight eyes. And of course your photographic techniques for capturing their glory.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

Surprising Ways Animals Inspire Great Art!

Why do animals inspire such great art? For some, it is their unconscious beauty–they never struggle to be “authentic” or creative–they just are. For others–many would say–it’s their unconditional love and joyous way of giving back to us. And yet for others, it is the desire to “conserve” the rare beauties for the next generation.

For photographer Michael Kern, he uses abstraction to remove fear and prejudice of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids, “I’m trying to help people see the beauty in the beast,” he says.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL D. KERN

Kern’s says that most of us don’t experience and appreciate the beauty of these animals due to our natural fear of them–and some of these species need our help to survive. He is dedicated to their conservation and hopes to save them through revealing them in his art.

Kern’s creatures include: bush viper, tragopan, chameleons, rainbow millipede, flower mantis, and blue tarantula

He starts by photographing the animal. Then he “deconstructs it into its most basic elements: color, line, pattern, texture.” These are the building blocks of a new image, which he alters in Photoshop. His technique results in a pair of portraits: one abstract, one of reality. When he is successful Kern muses, he turns fear into fascination for his viewers.

Kern’s Panther chameleon (left) and rainbow millipede

Frida Kahlo is famed for the love of her beasts and she is frequently painted with them in her self-portraits.

 Frida Kahlo with her pet deer

Frida kept pet monkeys, xoloitzcuintli (“Mexican Hairless”dogs), parrots, parakeets, macaws, chickens, a pet eagle, and a fawn called Granizo. Kahlo had a chronic pain-filled life due to childhood polio and a tragic bus accident— but her animals were a calming constant.

Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait With Monkeys

Painter/illustrator Norman Rockwell remains widely popular for his nostalgic depictions of American family life, he did many iconic covers for the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. He often painted dogs because they were an important part of families and a sense of “home.” His own dogs hung out with him in the studio. He recommended that other artists depict them “just as carefully and understandingly as you paint the people.”

Normal Rockwell posing a beagle for a reference photograph

 “Boy and Girl Gazing At The Moon” by Norman Rockwell

Another dog-inspired artist is Picasso. Pablo Picasso, perhaps the most influential artist of the 20th century, was born in Spain in 1881. He acquired Lump his dachshund in 1957. When Lump and Pablo met, it truly was “true love”. Lump was allowed anywhere on Picasso’s property, including being the only creature allowed in Picasso’s studio. Lump appeared in 54 of Picasso’s works. They were together for sixteen years, and died within months of each other.

Pablo Picasso and Lump

 Pablo Picasso’s “Dog” Line Drawing

Paul Klee’s unique style was influenced by expressionism, orientalism, cubism, and surrealism.  His original work is a favorite of many other artists, art scholars, and teachers because it is immediately recognizable.

“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.” Paul Klee.

Klee was so devoted to his white cat (Bimbo) that he would write to his wife (while he was away) simply to inquire how his kitty was doing.

Paul Klee, his wife Lily, and their cat Bimbo

Klee’s love of cats meant many were incorporated into his paintings.

“Cat and Bird” by Paul Klee

 “The Mountain of the Sacred Cat” by Paul Klee

Why such a love of cats you may ask? The French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was a photojournalist for Life and other publications and is considered to be the father of modern photojournalism. He explains his love for cats like this: “I’m an anarchist, yes. Because I’m alive. Life is a provocation…. I’m against people in power and what that imposes upon them. Anglo-Saxons have to learn what anarchism is. For them, it’s violence. A cat knows what anarchy is. Ask a cat. A cat understands. They’re against discipline and authority. A dog is trained to obey. Cats can’t be. Cats bring on chaos.”

 Photo of Henri Cartier-Bresson and his cat

Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson

The most famous surrealist was Salvador Dali, born in Spain in 1904. He painted bizarre scenes that were meant to cause confusion and inspire creative interpretation. Dali had an eccentric lifestyle that accentuated his brilliant artwork. He owned two ocelots, Babou and Bouba, one or both of whom accompanied him frequently.

Dali loved to collaborate with other artists, as this “live” photo shows.

Portrait of Dali and cats by photographer Philippe Halsman

How do animals inspire you to make art? What is your favorite kind(s) of animal(s) and why do you think this is? How do they make you feel, think and act–that is different from people?

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.