Working on an unabashedly sappy painting helps improve my mood.
Fall had been filled with distractions and I hadn’t painted anything substantial for nearly two months. I needed to jump start my work, so I visited a lot of public gardens and took many long walks, camera in hand. Often the photography became the source of my creative satisfaction. This monarch butterfly was spotted on an unusually warm October afternoon at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was a last-ditch effort for me and the fading autumn plants and the insects to enjoy a few hours of hot sun before the cold set in for the rest of the season. Perhaps the monarchs had not begun their migration south, because the garden was filled with them and they were, as they always are, a delight to get close to and observe.
Back in my studio, I knew that painting this image would allow me to spill and throw a lot of paint and water around and not be concerned too much with the end result. I gave myself some creative challenges: masking off the foreground and painting the background first, as well as maintaining a level of soft focus with the plant stems. It was essential that I spend time with the materials and get something down on paper to remember what it’s like to paint on a frequent basis.
. . .
My younger brother Barry passed away a few weeks ago after a long illness. Barry was here too short a time, off way too soon. A gentle and kind man, he was not one to complain. As adults, Barry and I lived very different lives; it was our shared childhood that gave us enough in common to have a limited, strained relationship. I often found it challenging to help him navigate the path that his life would take. Even so, I cared about him and found his illness and lack of attentiveness to be heartbreaking. I have the memories and photographs to recall his sweet nature. The butterfly, like Barry, is fleeting.
Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”―Beryl Markham, West with the Night
Fabriano Artistico cold press, 300 lb, 19″ x 15″