Eyed Brown

butterflyMelissa Blue Fine Art

I’m really enjoying getting to hang out at the farmer’s market every Wednesday afternoon. For so many years I was out in the field every day, covering miles, soaking up images I’d one day want to paint. Nowadays I’m grateful for the chair on the sidewalk, a new canvas on my lap ready to go.

I’ve been wanting to paint a series featuring our native butterflies. When I monitored butterflies at Illinois Beach State Park, there were over 40 species to keep track of! Many, like this Eyed Brown, were subtly colored, quietly beautiful. Just think~all these delicate strands of life woven together into ecosystems, flowing one into another. All interconnected. Taken all together, a robust thing. Yet, each strand fragile, vulnerable. How can I represent that vibrancy held so lightly in the wings of a butterfly?



It has been a busy few weeks here. First, a delightful visit from Steve Schwartzman and his wife Eve from down in Texas. He writes a wonderful blog called “Portraits of Wildflowers“. If you don’t already read his blog, check it out. You’ll enjoy it.

There are still chances to drop into the studio, and one day a lovely young mother stopped in to see the paintings. She was from India, and she told me that nature means a great deal to her and that she always feels joyful when she can get out into it. She raised her arms in glee, talking about it. I’ve been wanting to paint people connecting with nature and it struck me that this was a great way to show the feeling I want to convey. What if I had a woman celebrating the natural world, and placed her in a field of flowers?  This won’t be a portrait~just a person feeling joyful. Will it work? Will it look hokey? I’m not sure but I’m enjoying the process.

Also, it is farmer’s market season in my town. On Wednesday afternoons it takes place right in front of my gallery~how great is that? Last week I carried out a small canvas and some paint. It was a fun way to let people know I’m here. Here is what I painted:

sidewalk painting

no masterpiece, to be sure, but a fun little cutie.  I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer week!

Melissa Blue Fine Art Gallery

hallway signYou might be wondering where I’ve been…I’ve been here! My gallery is located in a lovely building which has been linked to the neighboring building with an airy atrium. This forms a friendly little community where there is lots of energy.

corner of galleryHere you can see inside the gallery, looking out into the street. Farmer’s Market takes place right outside my windows on Wednesday afternoons through the summer~pretty great.

easel in galleryThe other front corner of my space, where I work. You may notice a duplication. You aren’t seeing double~a collector asked me to paint a copy of one of my paintings, only larger.

Spirits Rise IIAnd this is what I’ve been working on. It is the last of a series of commissions that have kept me busy for a few months. I’ve enjoyed the work but am happy to be getting back to my own ideas that keep swirling around in my mind, sometimes keeping me up at night. Thank you for visiting my gallery:)

The Butterfly Monitors

The Butterfly Monitors updated1:12The Butterfly Monitors

My grand opening was this past Saturday. It was attended by my family and a few close friends~what a special day and thank you to all of you who came! When the dust was settled we looked at each other with wild eyes:”Did YOU take pictures???” Nope. None of us did. Ah, well. So today I am sharing a piece that hasn’t appeared here, as near as I can tell. I painted it some years back when I was still wielding a butterfly net for the Chicago Academy of Sciences and The Nature Conservancy. Ah, my glory days! We sure had a wonderful time out there with those big sweeps of sky and plants, helping keep track of butterfly populations. This is a way of monitoring land management practices~if the butterflies are thriving, we must be doing things right.

From time to time I want to include people in my paintings because I think our role in nature is an important one. I believe that if we try to remove people from our natural areas, this give rise to the push-back we sometimes see, with people rising up and trying to reverse our laws that protect our species, air and water. Rather than exclude people from the scene, I feel it is better to get them out there and teach them how to relate to the natural world that is sustaining to both. Those of us who love nature are prone to scowling at interlopers with their noise and litter….let us, instead, be teachers and leaders.

Americans are a restless bunch, and this prevents people from connecting with where they are. We see ads to travel, and become convinced that “somewhere else” is far more glamorous than “here”. How much richer our experience of daily life would be if each of us could learn the natural history of where we are, and get involved with keeping it healthy.

I know I’ve touched on this before. I hope I am not repeating myself too much.


Chicago Botanic Garden Irises

CBG Irises.jpg

Here is a happy splash of color to celebrate spring. I’ve been wanting to push myself past a merely narrative style with my work, and make it more playful. Also, I have been inspired by the wonderful photographs you all share. I’ve been struck by color combinations that I wanted to try out. For this one, I wanted to let blue green and yellow green play together, as well as pushing in the direction of abstraction.

Snowmelt Starting

Snowmelt Starting

It seems a painter is always a bit behind the times, and here I am presenting a scene of melting snow when the daffodils are already blooming. This was about a month ago~I was driving home in the early evening and glanced over to see clouds lit up, backlighting this wonderful oak and a rivulet of melting snow. I didn’t have my camera ready because I was driving but I grabbed an old receipt and a pen and did a quick sketch while waiting for the light to turn.

I continue to be disappointed by digital imaging. I have spent weeks building subtle layers of color in the snow, only to have the digital camera apply Occam’s Razor. Hm. At any rate, Happy April!