Butterflies

As I mentioned on Instagram and my Facebook page a few days ago, I am working on a new series of paintings titled "You are...." The first two pieces feature the sun and moon and were super fun and easy to do.

 sunshine and patience, 2018. Watercolor, gouache and ink on watercolor paper. 8x10”

sunshine and patience, 2018. Watercolor, gouache and ink on watercolor paper. 8x10”

 coffee and moonbeams, 2018. Watercolor, gouache and ink on watercolor paper, 12x18”. 

coffee and moonbeams, 2018. Watercolor, gouache and ink on watercolor paper, 12x18”. 

The third piece is coming into reality now. It features butterfly wings, and I'm excited to see how it turns out (because I never quite know). I've been sketching out different wings as a first step. Sketching is not something I tend to do often and these wings are definitely a lesson in patience. Until now, I've only drawn quick, basic butterfly sketches. I want this to have a bit more realism than what I normally aim for, so this step is definitely essential. Have I mentioned that I'm not always the world's most patient person? Have I also mentioned that I don't usually take time to sketch my ideas out in detail beforehand? Occasionally, I might do a quick drawing just to get the scale, but that looks more like chicken scratch more than an actual sketch. It's like my own brand of doctor's writing. No one can read it but me. 

 butterfly wing sketches

butterfly wing sketches

Anyway - I digress. I'm always intrigued by where my ideas come from. Sometimes, I am truly surprised by what shows up -- other times, it's way more obvious. This new piece falls into the second category. It feels like butterflies are trying to take up a more permanent residency in my life.

A few months after my brother died, someone told me that whenever I see an orange monarch or yellow butterfly that I should take that as a sign that my brother is sending his love and encouragement that I'm on the right path. Until that point, I really just relied on cardinals to send messages from loved ones who have passed, but now I'll take whatever greeting I can get. I'm greedy like that. :-) And now I think of him whenever I see an orange or yellow butterfly - yay!

 my beautiful wife and her butterfly friend. 

my beautiful wife and her butterfly friend. 

While honeymooning a couple of weeks ago, Anna and I visited the Key West Butterfly Conservatory. The exhibit was absolutely stunning. Everything was so lush and beautiful. There were butterflies everywhere. One of my favorite moments was when a butterfly decided to take a little break and rest on Anna. He stayed with her for quite a while, and I just smiled every time I looked at her with that sweet little fella on her head. We both loved the blue butterflies the best. A bonus was that some of the blue ones were actually owl butterflies, and owls happen to be one of Anna's favorite animals, so it was especially serendipitous. 

I'm excited to play with watercolor and butterflies, but as I sketch out my templates I just can't help but marvel at these tiny little creatures. I don't typically talk about my spiritual beliefs, but I will say this – it's really hard to deny something bigger than all of us when you really look at the intricate details that exist in the world. I will never capture the delicate lines of butterfly wings exactly, but drawing them in my own way really makes me appreciate their beauty. Their colors alone are worth swooning over, but when you slow down to really look at their wings - it's incredible. It's the same feeling I get when I'm in the middle of the woods or learning about some other aspect of nature. Studying and learning about how our world is made and the balance that we all sustain is a spiritual practice to me. And thinking about this stuff while drawing/painting is one of the many things I love about art. I never know what will inspire me, and I never know what deeper connection or understanding I will come to as a result of painting or making something.