The 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.
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.
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!
In the early woods, at the foot of oaks, sometimes you will come across Hepatica emerging from the muddy, leafy floor. I am always delighted by the clear, clean colors of the petals, and the leaves are so cool. They are a favorite of a dear friend of mine. She is the steward of a wonderful site here in Lake County. She is also an organist, loves Bach, and bur oaks. I wanted to combine these elements into a painting for her. I started by varnishing a sheet of music right onto the canvas. As I added layers of paint I was sure to leave areas where the notes shone through, wanting the music to dance through the painting just as Bach would carry a theme through his compositions.
In the back corner of my garden there lives an old apple tree. There isn’t much left of it and a wet snow this winter took down another big section of it. Still, I love that tree and enjoy the woodpeckers who like to visit it now. One afternoon last summer I came across this huge web~it had been spun right in the circle created by a hanging branch, and the slanting sunlight had picked out its delicate strands. I really liked how it lit up that dark corner!
Last week was pretty eventful… I found a wee gallery right in the middle of Main Street to rent. Wow! So there has been lots of running around~bank, State Revenue office for a tax ID number, business license, etc etc. Hopefully this week will be the fun stuff~moving in and making it mine It has been a dream of mine for a very long time. To have a place where I can talk to people one on one and they can get to know me and my work. I expect it will be a place of poetry reading (not mine) and who knows, maybe I can get a paint club going. Wouldn’t that be fun? I’ll keep you updated. Can’t wait to order my signs and put them up.
I want to thank all of you for your generous comments and for your feedback. Taking out the egret in the water seemed like a very good idea~what do you think? The scale would be wrong to add smaller birds, I’m afraid. You can really tell the difference a day makes to the grass, too. Today it is snowing, and the light is more dim.
I learn so much from you. How happy I am to have found such wonderful friends in blogland!
Peace and snowflakes to you….unless you live in Texas, in which case, may the frostweed be frosty
This is a work in progress, but I wanted to share it with you. I rather like the polka-dot flowers against the bands of color in the foreground but am not sure about the egrets. The one in the water I painted out, then sort of put back in. Anyhow, it is that sort of day.
Recently I saw a bumper-sticker that I liked. It read, “I would rather be here right now.” I love that, because it seems to me a lot of the problems in our world stem from people wishing they were somewhere else and so neglecting the place where they are. The ecosystem, the community. Of course as I type this, the wind outside is howling, it is bitterly cold, and there is a bunch of snow on top of ice and I dearly wish I lived somewhere else. Like I said, it is that kind of day. Anyhow, this is where I am right now so I’ll do my best to embrace it.