Sunday, November 10, 2019

Monarch Butterflies ~ Painting and Conservation

Monarch Butterflies

Growing up in Ventura our street was a stop off for monarch butterflies on their migration. Speaking of their migration, they have they longest of any butterfly. The eastern migration starts in Canada and ends up down in Mexico! The trees at the end of my street, Vista Del Mar, would be covered in thousands of these orange and black beauties every year. Some time after I left someone cut the trees down and the monarchs never came back. 

I just knew I had to paint these beautiful butterflies to represent where I grew up.

They were specifically painted for my solo show in December of 2018. If you missed my last post, here is my artists statement for that show. 

This exhibition is a reflection upon five decades and many places: The cities in which I have lived, countries where I have traveled and destinations that became pilgrimages. All have affected me in ways that are personal, powerful and life changing. These works are varied, as are the memories and connections I have with these places from my “Five Decades.” I hope you’ll enjoy the journey! 

My usual way of starting on the wood panels is to first use a clear gesso or medium to seal the wood. It doesn't completely keep the paint from absorbing into the panel but it definitely helps. Then I sketch the composition with a sanguine or burnt siena colored pencil or pastel. If I was painting on canvas and not using gold leaf I would just paint the composition in with a brush. You can see the reddish brown sketching above and the first layers of orange paint on the butterflies.

This next photo, I'm much farther along. I've added more variations to to orangy-gold in the wings, along with the black. At this point, I was hesitating in adding the white spots. I thought the painting might feel to chaotic but I decided to go for it.  

I made the spots a bit grey to soften them and then added the gold leaf. After the gold leaf I always go back into the edges where the paint meets the gold.

And ... VoilĂ ! 

6 x 12"
Oil on Wood Panel, 2018
Gold Metal leafing

The butterflies sold to my dear friend Shea who I met during High School in our hometown of Ventura. This photo was at the reception, a week before I turned 50, last year. 

We lose a million to two million acres of habitat a year but we can help by planting milkweed (like swamp milkweed and butterfly milkweed) for the larva and other flowering plants like zinnias and even chives, for the adults, which they need to nectar on. This all helps to create backyard habitats for these beautiful butterflies. They also love various types of daisies, purple coneflower, goldenrods, butterfly bush, cosmos, some species of salvia, Viburnum, Mexican sunflower and then Tithonia (Mexican Torch) for when they come through in the fall. 

Check out this video on monarch butterflies.

You can also make a "butterfly puddle" and leave out fruit for your butterflies!

This one from the University of Minnesota and while it's very informational it also kind of cracks me up in its down home local TV vibe. ;-)

How to build a Monarch Garden in 7 Steps

Happiness is a butterfly, 
which when pursued, 
is always just beyond your grasp, 
but which, if you will sit down quietly, 
may alight upon you. 
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Blessings and Light!


Loree said...

I loved your painting. It's so vibrant. Over here, we rarely see any butterflies. SO much land has been built over that I think they no longer come here.

donna baker said...

Hello dear Lucinda, I watched millions of monarchs flying south before a cold front. They flew high in the sky as pinpricks down as low as ground level. I'll never forget lying on the ground watching. I love your painting and want to try to add gold leaf in one of my paintings. I've written a novel this year and have it polished and waiting for an agent to represent it. I hope it happens in my lifetime. I do hope this has been a great year for you.

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