What is it about butterflies that intrigues us? Their beauty, of course. The big graceful wings, the bold colors, the way they seem to float through the air. But there are plenty of beetles whose iridescent colors, shapely thorax, and erratic flight patterns should impress us, yet I cringe at the sight of them.
Many common varieties don’t even bite, but my impulse is still either to run away or squish them.
In the case of butterflies, I think it is their process of metamorphosis that truly attracts us, and their beauty which inspires us to continue to capture their images. Growing up in upstate New York, I can remember studying Monarch butterflies in elementary school, keeping an eye out for their chrysalis’ on the milkweed pods that grew across the road from our house. Their image became so common in my mind that I have yet to paint one because they seem rather ordinary (poor Monarch, some day I will get around to you).
The caterpillar to butterfly change is the ultimate ugly duckling story, much more impressive (if you ask me) than the chick to swan one. And the religious imagery that they inspire – life after (seeming) death, transformation, crawling humbly then flying gracefully – carried me through some difficult times.
So maybe there is more to my interest in butterflies than their beauty. But for now, as my series of butterfly paintings grows, I’ll focus on the color and symmetry in their pretty, pretty wings.