Butterflies and Turtles


Baltimore Checkerspot and Turtlehead

“Baltimore Checkerspot and Turtlehead”

Click here to visit my website

This is my debut with my new smartphone.  The Samsung S6 takes amazing photos, but will they translate on the internet?  Fingers crossed…

Many beautiful moons ago when I got drawn into prairie restoration and butterfly monitoring, I learned of efforts to rescue the Baltimore Checkerspot from extinction. It is a fascinating business involving host plants and habitat. Although the butterfly doesn’t live at Illinois Beach State Park anymore, (it is hanging on in other sites), I did come across a small population of its host plant, Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) .  I wanted to paint it in a way that suggested its habitat, and also to pour out my yearning for the butterfly that should accompany it and hopefully will again, one day.

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36 thoughts on “Butterflies and Turtles

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Melissa and I love the sentiment behind your painting. We have a few wild chelone here, I will have to watch and see if maybe there are butterflies, too.

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Happy Independence Day, Jim 🙂 Yes, the photo looks just like the painting, with no fuss whatsoever. I could never feature this painting because I could never get a decent shot of it with the dratted digital camera, no matter what I tried. I am happy to have that thing pass out of my life.

  2. circadianreflections says:

    It’s beautiful! I love the greens and yellow flowers. It looks very realistic to the butterfly habitats I’ve seen. I hope they return there too!

    Your cell phone’s camera looks great! I wish my iPhone 5’s camera was as good.

  3. Steve Gingold says:

    This is a wonderful creation, Melissa. The complexity here is amazing to me. As a non-painter, the composition seems quite challenging to lay down the grasses and plants in the background, still keeping their form yet softening them so the main subjects are not lost but emphasized.
    It is a shame that we alter, intentionally or accidentally, an environment to the point that it causes a decline in a natural population. I visited a local reservation a short time ago and saw my first Baltimore Checkerspot.
    Your camera has done a very nice job rendering your painting for the internet and our enjoyment.

  4. melissabluefineart says:

    That means a lot to me, Steve. Thank you. You have put your finger on the problem I face~I often get caught up in painting the background and must remind myself it is not meant to be detailed. 🙂
    In many of our preserves here we see species that are on the brink of winking out, even though we are providing them with the best protection we know how to give. We scratch our heads and posit that there must be forces at work that are beyond the scope of the preserve itself and the management practices we can put in place. Pollution? Acid rain? Who knows. It really is very sad and it is hard not to wonder what the outcome will be. Successes are all the sweeter. I’m glad you got to see the butterflies in life. Aren’t they beautiful!

  5. Jane says:

    Love your artwork and the new site looks wonderful, Melissa. I would enjoy having this hanging on my wall to enjoy every day. Beautiful colours and textures.

  6. Steve Schwartzman says:

    I like the upward, sinuous movement of forms within the narrow confines of the painting.

    Am I correct in taking what you said about your new phone to mean you used it to photograph the painting (as opposed to using the phone to record nature and then creating a painting based on that photograph)?

    • melissabluefineart says:

      Hi Steve,
      Thank you. I do try to suggest some movement in my paintings, and it can be difficult in a narrow format like this. My phone has already been a huge success in the field, taking sharp images of the feathery white flowers of Goatbeard. You probably remember me grumbling about my digital camera refusing to focus on white or yellow flowers. This was indeed my first try taking a photo of a painting, and I am pleased. I didn’t need to have special lighting or anything, and the photo looks just like the painting.

  7. myrsbytes says:

    Oo, the greens of summer :-). Ours are turning brown a little early this year because there hasn’t been much rain since mid-January. August seems to have come a month early.

    I don’t think I’ve seen Turtleheads or Baltimore Checkerspots before. The Checkerspots have such beautifully patterned wings! I like that there are little dots in the blurrier background as well. I think they add this sense of “life-magic” and of connection between the butterfly and its environment.

    It is interesting that you mentioned yearning. I was looking at a painting of a natural landscape earlier this week, of a landscape I’ve never experienced in “real life”. At first glance I only experienced beauty, but after looking a little longer, I felt yearning. Hopefully the Checkerspots will come back to dance in the Turtleheads at Illinois Beach State Park.

  8. melissabluefineart says:

    You noticed my spots! I’m so pleased~you got what I was after with those exactly. They are pretty butterflies, aren’t they? I’m glad scientists are working to restore their populations.

    That is an interesting thing that you felt yearning when you looked at that painting. What sort of habitat was it of?

    • myrsbytes says:

      I do hope the butterflies flourish again. They are very pretty.

      The painting I’m referring to is by Ian Hamlin. After reading your question, I looked up the place. It is a fjord in New Zealand with a temperate climate. However, the mist and two viewers’ comments about the roar of waterfalls and the song of birds triggered a yearning I felt recently for the rainforest, when visiting the Bloedel Conservatory which is full of beautiful tropical and subtropical birds and plants. The Conservatory has a lovely waterfall, pool and creek and is alive with bird songs.

      • melissabluefineart says:

        Wow~that is a gorgeous painting. You are reminding me of what Martha Beck said in a book I read of hers; she found herself longing for Africa. A book tour took her there and it changed her life.

  9. shoreacres says:

    I’d never heard of turtlehead, Melissa. We have plenty of turtles, but not the plant. I don’t know butterflies, either, but I see that Texas has several checkerspots, and that they’re categorized as true brushfoots (brushfeet?) I hope they’re all as pretty as yours are!

    Your painting is lovely. I’m glad you’re happy with the photos your phone produces, too. I’m slowly learning more about my camera, so I’ll be sticking with that, but I know many people are delighted with their iphone (or whatever) cameras.

  10. melissabluefineart says:

    Hi Linda, Thanks for your comment! The butterflies that are in the brushfoot group are called that because the front pair are held up against their body. It has been a few years since I’ve gone butterflying and I’d forgotten about that.

  11. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    Hey, thanks for stopping by my site and for the follow. I am following your beautiful blog too, now.
    Mary

  12. Judy says:

    That is a beautiful painting! The colors are so lovely; I love rich greens, yellows and blues!! It is good to be a part of trying to facilitate a healthy environment for the butterflies. Even though I believe man and nature can co-exist beautifully, we really do need to be better custodians of what we have been entrusted with.

  13. melissabluefineart says:

    Thank you Judy! Your belief echoes mine, that we can co-exist with nature. For some it seems easier to think of establishing a colony on Mars than tending to the beautiful planet we are given.

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