Wonder31 #3: Butterfly


 "It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind; how the observation of last year seems childish, superficial; how this year — even this week — even with this new phrase — it seems to us that we have grown to a new maturity. It may be a fallacious persuasion, but at least it is stimulating, and so long as it persists, one does not stagnate. I look back as through a telescope, and see, in the little bright circle of the glass,
moving flocks and ruined cities."
Vita Sackville-West

A butterfly unfolds, flies, alights, transforms, graces, lifts, emerges.

Related? Drift, flutter, chrysalis, wingspan, camouflage, monarch, migration, caterpillar, flower, pollination. There are skippers, swallowtails, hairstreaks, whites, metalmarks,  It's a swimming stroke, an insect, a favorite motif of writers, poets, musicians and visual artists. 

With poetic names like cloudless sulphur, Lilac-Bordered Copper, Stella Orange-Tip, Julia longwing, pipevine swallowtail, question mark, red admiral and  Zephyr Anglewing... [check out the Butterfly Listing by Common Name].

Butterflies have been explored and interpreted in virtually every medium. Sculpture, stained glass cathedral windows, quilts, dancing mobiles, earrings, tattoos. They symbolize freedom and possibility. Poems about butterflies. When the girls were little, we went to a butterfly garden at Phipp’s Conservatory in Pittsburgh, a two-story greenhouse room filled with so many plants that you don't see the butterflies until you let your eyes adjust. They appear, perched on branches and flowers, fluttering about. There were two upright wooden display boxes with an array of live chrysalis.

The engaging smile-provoking kaleidoscopic, perhaps mosaic, patterns on their wings. Take a few moments to discover an interesting butterfly, research the type and the name of the butterfly and how the insect was given the particular name. Create a pattern with colored pencils, use a liquid frisket mask to paint a butterfly in gouache, cut out collage in the color palette of a an imaginary psychedelic version.

And of course, it's a challenging swimming stroke! Per Wikipedia, "...unforgiving of mistakes in style; it is very difficult to overcome a poor butterfly technique with brute strength. Many swimmers and coaches consider it the most difficult swimming style. The main difficulty for beginners is the synchronous over-water recovery, especially when combined with breathing, since both arms, the head, shoulders and part of the chest have to be lifted out of the water for these tasks."

Per Wikipedia, "Butterflies navigate using a time-compensated sun compass. They can see polarized light and therefore orient even in cloudy conditions."

So here’s what I did. In my continuing gel transfer experiments {see the weathered wall of failed gel transfers} I am trying to hit upon on the secret sauce or magic formula, the perfect gel transfer process. And I learn by teaching myself stuff. Thus I have a small assortment of index cards with gel transfer tests and overlaps and layers. They do look really cool like that, so I don’t think that’s a #fail at all. And the softness, the grunge, the imperfect blurry texture of the gel transfer makes a really interesting background. I looked around my art table for something to use to make a butterfly and my eye went to one of the test pages I did for a section of Groovy Grunge where I paint a page with a mad number of colors. So I cut the butterfly from this card and liked the three dimensional aspect, wanted it to cast a tiny winged shadow on the backdrop collage so I chose to stitch the piece to the index card. I’d recently re-united my embroidery floss with my embroidery needles and it was time to do some simple straight stitches at the end of each paper wing. 

The butterfly began with these acrylic abstracts on 8x11" watercolor paper. My marks are not this crisp, I actually masked the paper with tape and then made the little works.  Can you figure out where the butterfly originated - which block? 

This painting technique  is something that I'm teaching in the Groovy Grunge workshop. It's a lovely and surprisingly meditative way to make a colorful art journal backdrop for almost any sort of writing or collage. 

Now it’s your turn to create something inspired by the prompt.

Index to all of the Wonder31 Prompts.

wonder31Daisy Yellow