Windy Day on the Prairie

Windy Day

On a windy day this past summer at Illinois Beach State Park, I saw these showy goldenrods and blazing stars dancing a duet in the wind, and the Monarchs passing through had to hang on tightly to avoid being swept out into the Lake.

This is a lovely little patch of prairie on the older dunes, with several prairie species growing in a dense community. However there are also quite a few grey dogwoods starting to muscle their way in. While native, they can be weedy and will quickly overpower the other species if not controlled. Prescribed fire works well on a prairie to maintain the balance, however this can be tricky on the dunes as fire will kill the creeping juniper and bear berry that grow nearby.

I built this painting up by layers, stem by stem, leaf by leaf, and finally color by color. Last was the butterfly but at first she looked like she’d been stamped on the surface. I had to tease a goldenrod and a grass stem over her wings a little to drop her down into the habitat.

Published by melissabluefineart

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12 thoughts on “Windy Day on the Prairie

  1. You’ve got good colors throughout; the many arcs, whether short or long, driven by gravity or wind, add much to the overall appeal.

    I noticed the version on your zhibit site shows the monarch butterfly before you enticed those bits of grass and goldenrod in front of it.

    1. I can’t. Until yesterday we were having pretty nice weather but now we’re in the 30’s, which is certainly normal for us. No snow yet though, thank goodness.

  2. My first thought on seeing this is how well it shows the wind, and the way the butterfly looks the the blowing stems. The colors and the complexity of the scene all come together. It looks great.

    I can’t believe Steve has ice and frost, it’s in the 50s up here in New England.

    1. Thank you so much, Tom!
      I know what you mean~I was shocked to hear how cold it is down there too. Enjoy those 50’s! 🙂

  3. So pretty! I love the color of the blazing stars. Thank you so much for the glimpse of a prairie, complete with the monarch. It was fascinating to learn about your process, how you go about creating a painting.

  4. The combination of goldenrod and blazing star is perfection. I’m so far behind in my postings, but I was able to enjoy that combination in east Texas this fall, and you’ve captured it beautifully. The grasses are a perfect addition; they certain provide a sense of the movement caused by the wind.

    1. I seldom see stands of the two plants so thoroughly intermixed as they were here, so I’m interested that you saw it in East Texas. And yes, I needed the grass to emphasize the movement because both of these plants are sturdy -stemmed and don’t bend much in the wind.

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