Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Achilles with background

Here is a more final pic of the background...his beating wings give an impression of the sheer force of a helicopter taking off. This was pointed out to me by various on lookers as I sat on the concrete floor to paint the time, I felt I was fighting with it to make it look a certain way, and out comes this movement of wind that everyone else saw. I guess, I had something different in mind, but am very pleased with it now that I've lived with it for a while.

Coming soon-My blog about an unbelievable and unpredictable internet journey, that will change the course of my family history as I know it and they once knew it. I can't wait for this one!!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Our first National Advertisment

This is the photo that will appear in our first full page national advertivertisment in the January/February issue of Wildlife Art Magazine. I painted Hope the butterfly in the spring of 2004 and is my biggest, most detailed insect portrait to date. I like to point out the tiger face design in her wings, as most people miss this about her. To see more about her, visit

We are drawing closer to the exhibit and performace at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum beginning February 3. The newest addition to our exhibit will be live webcams....we can't wait to implement this feature and look forward to ongoing webcams in the future.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Our Surroundings

Above is a pic I took off the desert trails that James and I walk on frequently right next to the campground. A prickly pear cactus in front and a towering Cholla cactus behind that. The most dangerous thing you will find here in the desert at this time of year are the cactus if you don't watch where you are going. All the scorpions, tarantulas, and snakes have pretty much gone into the winter mode as is does get very cold here at night. Although James and I wouldn't mind coming across a few scorpions and tarantulas anytime.
This roadrunner was a hoot......he came right up to our campsite and stole an entire hotdog from our hotdog pack and ran away with legs moving as fast as the roadrunner in the Bugs Bunny Show. We couldn't get over it, laughing ourselves silly. He was a real pretty bird, and we haven't seen him since the incedent.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Romancing the Past

I thought I would share with you some pictures from my Nanna's old picture books. Above is my grandfather as a kid (on the right) doing some yard work with a friend. Can you believe that is a lawnmower? Boy things sure have changed. The photo to the right is my Nanna with her fishing pole and catch for the day. I would guess these pics were taken sometime in the 1930's.
To the left is my grandfather with his catch of the day, and man did he love fishing...and hunting...and the outdoors. I remember spending much of my time as a youngster fishing with him and watching him tie flies in his workshop for hours and hours. My Nanna was a school teacher and would read stories to my sister and I, collected boxes of trinkets for us to look at and play with and would occasionally break out the toy china for us to have a tea party together. These pictures take me back to my childhood, even though they were taken long before I was born. I will post more olden goldie photos from time to time and share with you some of the history I have become so fond of.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Recent Pics of Achilles

Above is the final carve out of the throat feathers....without microscopic details and highlights. They are soon to come, and I need smaller brushes, so I am on my way to the art store sometime this week to seek out tiny watercolor brushes that will work for the detail on this oil painting.
I finished the texture and lighting on the bottom of the looks quite fuzzy in texture, very soft, and scribbly. It is a bit different then what I originally set out to do, but it grew on me and think I'll keep it this way. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Painting fun at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

This past weekend, James spent the afternoons painting his famous tattoos at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. As you can see, he had a line as usual, and was cracking his jokes creating a lot of laughs for the crowd. The girl in front is inspecting her fresh new tattoo, as all the kids do until it is eventually lost to the circumstances of having to take a bath. James prides himself on water conservation, as he alone is probably responsible for saving millions of gallons of water over the years, getting kids out of baths in order to save the art painted on their arms.
This is a close up of what James has become famous for...his arm tattoos! Kids and adults are goo-gaa over them and has he ever come a long way with his painting since we started in Kansas City 4 years ago.
A pic of a butterfly sunning himself in the Butterfly house, where you can also find 100% humidity in the desert.
I thought these orchids were incredible...also photographed these in the butterfly house at the gardens.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You never know who's watching

James and I have been in the company of 2 big owls living right above our RV in tall palm trees. Yes, there are several palm trees here in the desert. During the day they sit up there snoozing and occasionally open their eyes and give a look to see what's going on. They blend in so well, it is hard to see them most of the time, and most often, I forget that they are even sitting up there. In the evening, right after sunset, they begin to hoot, and then disappear into the night on their hunting adventure.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Painting the throat feathers

Above is a close up of the final changes in progress for the red throat feathers, you can see the new black outlines on the right side of the neck. James took a picture of me working on the painting last night. I also reshaped the eye yesterday and gave him his eyelids with different highlight reflections .

A close up veiw of the ruby feathers after partial carve out....I'm gearing up the courage to begin the very complicated left hand side of the throat today and hope it won't be as difficult as what my mind is telling me it will be.

What Achilles looks like after the new work over the past couple of weeks. The lighting is really beginning to pop him and I plan to paint the final coat on the background this weekend.....more to come later.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Teaching Older Kids in the Desert

Last evening I had nearly 30 Desert Trails residence participate in a drawing class. It was fabulous. With signs of talent and promise, these older kids from around the country drew their hearts out, and not only amazed me, but amazed themselves as well.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Magnified Hummingbird Feathers

Here are 2 examples of highly magnified hummingbird feathers taken from my specimen by Stephen Buckman here in Tucson. The red feathers are from his throat, and the green ones are from his back. I wish I could make these pictures bigger, so you could really see the intensity of the details.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A photo for our #1 fan

I thought I would honor our #1 fan, aka, graffiti mantis with a macro photo I took here in the Sonora Desert upon our arrival a couple of months ago. We love you and miss you back there in KC, and most of all love your creative imagination. You are the best and you know who you are! Thanks for everything!!

Carving out the feathers

Here are 2 new detail pics of Achilles the hummingbird painting. I have begun to carve out the feathers on the tail and back. I still have a long way to go with detail and color, but it is exciting to see how he is shaping up with just the simple definitions coming into play. Will post more photos soon.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Getting the detail started

This first pic is of the hummingbird tail, blocked in with a few coats of oil and nothing more.
I decided to start carving out the tail feathers with the specimen under the microscope and the black line drawing overtop of the block in began to take shape. Little shifts and adjustments in form is a very interesting way to develope your painting and take it to the next level.
This is the final pic of shift and base color correction, before I proceed with the microscopic details as I see through the microscope. I find this part to be the most fun, but the most challenging is still to come. Look at the difference between the first tail pic and the last...quite a difference!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Progress of current painting

I have just finished the second coat on the painting and have one more to go before I start the layers of microscopic detail. He appears very dark at this stage because the undercoats need to be this way in order to pull off the iridescent qualities in the layers to come. I am not used to painting this way, and I'm finding it to be quite a challenge to this point. The lighting and shadow are also difficult as I am making it up as I go along based on the vision I see in my mind. This is typical of all the insect paintings I have done, and takes several layers and tweaking to get it right, which I don't mind, I just end up using more paint and it takes a bit longer.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Progress of the hummingbird painting

I thought I would post a progress pic of Achilles, the 6' x 6' ruby-throated hummingbird oil painting that I'm currently working on here in Tucson at the Desert Trails RV Park. James and I are currently staying here before our next exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum . The people here in the park are wonderful and love stopping by to watch me paint and take pictures of the painting in progress. Most of my visitors are retired grandparents and travel to this particular RV park every winter with their motorhome and love to laugh and have good eats. They are our kind of people! This is my first large painting of a vertebrate since Project InSECT started nearly 4 years ago. Although I will still paint the hummingbird just as I do the insects, with a microscope, the 2 different subjects have a lot in common to me through the eyes of an artist and scientist you will see as the painting evolves. My challenge on this painting is the iredesent hair like feathers which I look forward too in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Crazy Signs in the Desert

I had to shoot this photo of James peering under this crazy sign as we are in the insect business. What's funny is they say poisonous insects inhabit the area (here in the desert) and show a picture of a scorpion for an insect. We've been told over and over again, that scorpions and spiders are in fact arachnids, not insects, from our public fans and visitors. So I find it peculiar that when everyone is so up in arms to be politically correct about everything, the State authorities who made this sign didn't get it right either.....all we can do is the best we can to teach people what we know and be politically incorrect from time to time...especially when dislexia hits. That's all I have to say about that! So over and out until next time.

Creation of a hummingbird painting

I thought I would share with you the pastel layout of the very large hummingbird painting I have started here in Tucson. I have named him "Achilles" and chose to paint a hummingbird on my few months off for a few reasons. First, because I was given a dead specimen of a Ruby throated a few years back and am able to view it under the microscope just as I do the insects I paint, second, because of the irredescence challenge as I face with many of the insect subjects, and third because a large part of a hummingbird's diet is insects. Most people, unless they are ornathologists or birders don't know this about hummingbirds. I have had the opportunity to watch many species in the wild over the past year in my travels, have photographed them and also been able to obtain information from the specialists. So this fall, I am painting "Achilles", the name does have special meaning, as I will reveal over the next months of progress the story of "Achilles and Hector", as the image completes itself....stay tuned.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Landing in Tucson Arizona

Hi Everyone,
James and I have made it to Tucson, Arizona...where the cacti and sunshine are plentiful. We have been here for a month and love it. Getting ready for our gig at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and learning a lot about the Sonoran Desert in the process. The sunsets are beautiful here and the wildlife is amazing. We have several great horned owls that take up residence right out side our RV in the trees and howl right at sundown. As for current paintings between now and February, I am painting a 72" x 72" Ruby-throated hummingbird with all of the microscopic details and plan to enter it into an international competition in 2007. Our campground here is awesome... and the people are great.....with great stories to boot. Mostly all retired, they are all like our grandparents and excited about our project.
As for the bugs, I have captured many great insects on the camera some of which I am to include in this blog. I have spent hours since arriving here getting my photo files in order, as I must confess, they were as disorganized as a marching band out of tune and rythm. So with that said it is time to post some new photos....and photos of my new painting (the hummingbird named Achilles) coming soon. The picture above is a skipper butterfly I caught landing on a flower and the one below is a damselfly I caught sunning himself on the grounds of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and boy did I have fun taking pictures on this day. Bugs where everywhere! I captured 433 pictures of the desert invertabretes in just 2 hours! Watch for more to come! And painting live on webcam as that is beginning Feb 3, 2007. Until next time....

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tiny Spider

It is coming up on the end of warm temperatures here in Denver, Colorado and this means I will have fewer insects and arachnids to photograph for the next couple of weeks. I found this tiny spider amidst this beautiful violet flowering bush and thought the image has great color and light. I am considering it for my next pastel, although the decision is difficult among the thousands of pics I've taken in the past 2 years.
Next stop is Tucson, Arizona where the daytime temps should be high and I can begin another round of macro photos in the desert. Very exciting!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Busy as a bee

James and I are rounding out our summer here in Denver. The Butterfly Pavilion has extended our exhibit and performance through October 1, 2006. Our summer has been packed with all sorts of great people and good fun. We have visited some beautiful places here, such as Garden of the Gods and Estes Park and have taken some real great photos of our beloved invertabrates.

Our second documentary is in the works and hope to have it release later this fall. Our first documentary was screened at 4 different film festival nationwide this year, so we are looking forward to the new release of Project InSECT-Denver. We have also added T-Shirts to our product line, which is something I know a lot of you have been asking for over the past few years.

Our next stop is Tucson, Arizona where James and I will be performing and showing at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.....we can't wait.

Monday, May 15, 2006

New Macro Photos

Pictures hot off the press! To the right is a small nymph katydid waiting for prey a top a beautiful violet flower bud. Below is a wandering lonely ant I was fortunate to just catch a glimpse of as he checked out my camera lens. Both of these insects are about the same in size at a couple of millimeters!
These were just a couple of favorites of the many I have shot in the past few weeks of spring.
Look for more postings coming soon along with the current paintings in progress......Phyllis the Golden tortoise beetle and Vincent the question mark butterfly.
All Photos posted on the Project InSECT Blog are copyrighted images of Jessa Huebing-Reitinger 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Camera Time and Bug Stories

I thought I would share with you a few new pictures I shot with the camera over the past few weeks. Of course, they are mostly flowers and insects, and should be posting some video footage of the bugs in action to our website (education page) soon.

Stay tuned for more pictures! I have literally shot thousands of them over the past three years.

If you have any cool insect stories, please let us know ! Everybody has some kind of bug story, unless you've been living under a rock.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Our Latest Trip

James and I spent the past week in Denver. We visited The Butterfly Pavilion and The Wildlife Experience in preperation for our fun packed summer at both venues. The buzz has already begun.

We also spent some time relaxing and eating great food with a couple of old friends that I haven't seen for several years. Being in Denver in May, we expected it to be somewhat warmer, however, it was rainy and cold all 5 days until the morning we left. On Friday, we broadcast our 4th Opal Program in conjunction with the Johnson County Library, which is archived and posted on the Opal Program section of our website.

Friday, April 28, 2006

My First Thoughts

This all feels very strange to me....blogging....but I think I will get the hang of it fairly quickly. I am primarily interested in using this blog to bring up important questions and concerns of all topics, but also discuss ups and downs of the exciting day to day lives that my husband and I lead with this traveling exhibit called Project InSECT. Can you believe that we spend pretty much 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together....can you imagine spending that much time with anyone? The miraculous part is, neither one of us ever complains about it, infact, we are overjoyed because of it.

I am pleased to announce that we are now live with our brand new site!! Thanks to our new awesome web designer. We welcome your comments.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

First Post

Welcome to the Project InSECT Blog! We are a traveling art and insect exhibit. Find out more about us at