While I work from my imagination a great deal, when I need reference for something very specific I often work from photos. However, the chance to work from life is always welcome and so I'm often on the lookout for nature's little treasures - acorns, pine cones, feathers, etc. My husband fished this exquisite dragonfly out of the swimming pool the other day in the hopes that it was still alive and just needed a helping hand out of the water. We were too late though and this little guy had passed on:
I wanted to preserve the dragonfly properly, but when I read that the standard method involves using acetone which is "volatile and explosive" I had second thoughts and went with the 'stick him in a shadowbox and cross my fingers that he doesn't rot' method. I took a bunch of pictures of him as back-up in the likelihood that my method doesn't hold out for very long.
He did lose a little bit of his luster after just one day and his iridescent eyes faded to opaque, but I think he is still a little jewel. Dragonflies often work as a nice extra detail in paintings, so it'll be nice to have some first-hand reference.