I have over the years often inserted butterflies into my pictures and have even done a few studies of butterflies. An early picture I painted in tempera almost thirty years ago, Swallowtails Among the Columbines, hangs in my sister's bedroom and still looks pretty good to me. It occurred to me that I might not only do butterfly and moth portraits, but perhaps feature butterflies as strong supporting characters in other types of pictures. The recently completed scene, above, though nothing more than attempt to paint something pretty and appealing, is a fairly major work and consists of a girl, some flowers, and lots of butterflies. The nearer butterflies are painted life size, those in the middle ground are, like the lady, one-quarter life. The butterflies depicted are all ones that can be seen where I live, in northern Illinois, although there are a few species I haven't seen for a while. (Tiger swallowtails can be seen every summer. Monarchs are becoming less common, but red admirals are ever present as are the much less exciting cabbages.) They are, clockwise from the upper left - azures, baltimore, monarch, cabbages, mourning cloak, monarchs, tiger swallowtail, monarchs, red-spotted purple, black swallowtail, painted lady, gulf fritillary, sulphur, and question mark. I have painted red admirals so often that I decided to leave them out of this painting. I rather like painting lepidoptera and will, if I find the least encouragement, do more. The life sized depictions turn out, if I do say so, fairly real looking, though much less so on film and screen.
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