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A Butterfly Moment

Butterfly MomentMourning Cloak on Felled Birch

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”

~Rabindranath Tagore

I looked through my records, and it doesn’t appear that I have ever posted this painting so I thought I would this morning. Some years ago we had a remarkably warm December and I went out to walk the North Unit at Illinois Beach State Park~my favorite trail here. Birches don’t live long here, because it is too warm for them, and this one had fallen. A large patch of bright orange slime mold was making its way along the trunk, and to my delight, a Mourning Cloak had come out to play on this warm winter day.

I just recently came across the above quote, and loved it. It doesn’t really apply to Mourning Cloaks, though, because they in fact do count months, overwintering in crevices they find in bark. Unlike other species of butterflies, Mourning Cloaks sip sap rather than nectar, and will be out and about on warm winter days.

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Visitor at the Garden Gate

Visitor at the Garden Gate

Visitor at the Garden Gate

I was so charmed by this little guy when he came and perched right outside my window that I had to grab a pen and sketch him for a painting. A bird in a garden perfectly captures for me what we humans can achieve, if we reach for it. A garden is a human environment, but if we do it right, it can exist right along with the natural world. It can be a place where wild creatures feel safe and welcome.

Speaking of birds, I did see white pelicans yesterday. Every spring they come through but I haven’t been able to find them. They are HUGE! I saw them there, floating along with a raft of gulls, and they dwarfed the gulls. Even so, my camera couldn’t bring them into focus as the distance was just too great. I’m going to try again today. It baffles me that they always return to the same couple of lakes, and never seem to be in perfectly wonderful lakes less than a mile away. I’d love to get a good photo of them. They are magnificent in their gleaming white finery, wings edged with black. And those bills!

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Blue Camassia in the Garden

Blue CamassiaBlue Camassia

There is a sort of dreamy quality that emerged when I was working on this painting that I quite like. I’ve been wanting to infuse my work with excitement and, for me, this is what that looks like.

When I started my garden I was under the impression that both of these plants were native. Now I’m thinking that neither one is. No matter~I’m particularly fond  of both of them. The camassia, I believe, is native to the Pacific Northwest. Here I have just a small clump of them, but I dream of a whole field of them stretching out to frame a view of the sea…

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Butterflies in the Studio

Bark Basking Butterfly

Bark Basking Butterfly

 

It will be a few weeks before the earliest of our butterflies here will be flying, so here is a little preview of summer. This is a second version of the red-spotted purple I painted last summer. I hope this summer I can capture an image of this beauty’s underwing, with its red spots.

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Volo Vista repost

Volo VistaWith apologies to all who already saw this, I am reposting this post because it didn’t appear for everyone.

As you approach the Volo Bog, you first come to a rise and get this view, looking out over the low area that holds the bog, and the low ridges beyond. I’m going to guess the ridges are moraines left by the last glacier, giving our area a bit of a corduroy look. These are quite far from the Lake, and so are older and well-vegetated.

Painting this made me happy.  I hope it makes you happy to look at it, and may you have a serene Sunday!

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Volo Vista

Volo VistaAs you approach the Volo Bog, you first come to a rise and get this view, looking out over the low area that holds the bog, and the low ridges beyond. I’m going to guess the ridges are moraines left by the last glacier, giving our area a bit of a corduroy look. These are quite far from the Lake, and so are older and well-vegetated.

Painting this made me happy.  I hope it makes you happy to look at it, and may you have a serene Sunday!