Artist Spotlight: The Fusion of Insects and Art by Amy McMahon


If you are into Fly Fishing, you are probably into bugs. Some level of knowledge in entomology, will obviously increase your success at convincing that wary trout, you have what it wants.

Amy McMahon, takes the everyday fly fisher’s knowledge of bugs to the big leagues.

Drunella grandis
Green Drake- Drunella grandis

Amy’s illustrations reflect the finest detail of these aquatic trout snacks overlooked by the average fly fisherman’s eye. Her meticulous work showcases not only artistic talent, but a truckload of patience.

“Each finished insect piece takes multiple steps to complete.  First, actual physical specimens are measured and photographed so that all proportions are as accurate as possible.  Multiple drafts are created before any shading takes place.  Finally, thousands of tiny ink dots are made to create proper shading and complete the finished design.”

So, if you really want to see what that Mayfly looks like, explore Amy’s work or pick up a print of one of her many designs available on her website.  If you are already a fan of Amy’s work, you have watched the progress of some of her ‘fish’ works on Instagram, which prove to be no less detail oriented then her bug work.

Early Beginnings:

Amy recalls an early interest in both art and nature.  “Ever since I can remember my parents encouraged my exploration of the natural world.  Camping and hiking throughout Colorado, and catching snakes in our backyard (to my mother’s horror) are how I remember spending my childhood days.  When I wasn’t running around barefoot, I was inside working on my many “art projects”.  From the beginning, I was drawn to re-creating on paper what I saw when I was outside.”

Fast Forward:

Amy graduated with a B.S. in Biological Science from Colorado State University, where her studies were focused on insects and ecology.

She has worked as an aquatic biologist at Timberline Aquatics, Inc. for over four years, where she has the opportunity to not only increase her knowledge and skill set, be work in an environmental field she is passionate about.

Because Amy encounters aquatic macroinvertebrates on a daily basis, she is continually building on her insect identification skills. She is also currently a Society of Freshwater Science certified taxonomist in both the Western EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plectoptera, Trichoptera) and Western Chironomidae taxa groups.

Amy currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado where she looks forward to fishing, snowboarding, and hiking with her dog when she’s not busy working on art.

“My background in Biology and Entomology have not only developed my interest in artistic renderings of insects, but increased my knowledge of the details required to create accurate portrayals of these unique and intricate subjects.”

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