Monday, January 24, 2011

Operation: Fill-A-Frame #4

"Love You To Death"
Oh man... what to say about this piece, where do I start?

Chronologically sounds good...
I started with the frame. I bought it at least 2 years ago. I thought the coppery-metallic-orange would look great filled with some orange tropical flower. But after getting the frame home I found myself less than enthusiastic about filling it. A tropical flower didn't seem right for it... but I had no idea what did seem right. So there it sat. I felt a twinge of guilt every time I saw it, thinking I had wasted money on yet another frame I was never going to fill, another project I was never going to complete.

In 2009 my awesome husband took me to Reptiland in Pennsylvania for my birthday. The place was amazing! (I loved it so much we returned in 2010.) There were frogs, snakes, turtles, and a butterfly house! Since it was late in the year when we went, most of the foliage and flowers were gone and only a few lonely surviving butterflies remained. I took tons of pictures of them. It was cold; they weren't moving much; you could get so close to them.

Here are two of the pictures that I took and the two that inspired the piece of art:

Fast forward to now and it's January and I'm working on this Fill-A-Frame project. I decided to take a break from the 8x10's and standard sizes I had around and get this square copper frame back out. I decided instead of a tropical flower, a monarch butterfly would look much better with the orange tones. I went through my Reptiland pictures again and loved the composition with the two butterflies (above) so much that I did a nasty (meaning, executed poorly but good and accurate enough for me to work from) rendition via Photoshop of what two monarchs would look like in the same position and began to work on the drawing.

Nasty Photoshop reference rough-draft
(I originally planned to extend the drawing onto the mat again, but I didn't have any white or light colored matboard around and eventually decided that I wanted only a small mat on this art, so unless I messed up the mat and HAD to color over it, I'd rather just have a plain mat.)

Here's the finished drawing:

I usually have trouble naming a drawing or painting, but most of the Fill-A-Frame project names are coming from songs or albums I'm listening to at the time that I create the art. It seemed quite fitting for this piece that the song I currently can't stop listening to is called "Love You To Death."

Why fitting?
I know, usually my art is super cheerful and happy, right? I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone a little for this one.

Here's why. The pictures that inspired the art were taken in a butterfly house... right before winter. Normally Monarch butterflies would migrate, but when importing live butterflies (chrysalis) from other states into a butterfly house, it's actually illegal to release those butterflies into the wild. When you visit a butterfly house, do you ever notice all of the signs asking you to check for "hitchhikers" before you leave? It's not just because they don't want to lose their butterflies... they don't want to break the law! When non-native species are released into a new environment, they can breed like crazy and mess up entire eco-systems... so there are strict laws against releasing those imported butterflies.

So even though the Monarch species was native to the area of the butterfly house, they still weren't allowed to be released into the wild. They, and the other remaining butterflies, had to just sit in the butterfly house and wait to die in the cold. I found it particularly sad with the Monarchs since they would've normally migrated south. They were imprisoned and just waiting for death.

Since there were a pair of them in this picture (well, in my made-up picture), it seemed at least a little more comforting that the two butterflies had each other and could wait for death together. Hence the "Love You To Death" title. (I know that's not what the actual song is about, but the title fit well.)

Next it was time to mat the drawing. Since I didn't need a huge mat, I went to a local art gallery to see if they had any matboard scraps around that they might otherwise be throwing away. Sometimes galleries will sell them to you cheap or in rare and especially nice cases just give them away! :) I got EXTREMELY lucky because not only did I find one of those NICE galleries, the lady working in the matting section even cut it to size (I did the inside cut) and the mat was this really cool tan color with some grayish-fibery-pieces in it. It was perfect; no way was I going to draw on it.

I put it all together, and there you have it. My first piece of sad artwork.


Doris Sturm said...

Your butterflies are lovely. I like them being an rather bare twigs instead of mixed with a big, lush flower that would probably steal the show.

My sister, Daniela, in Germany likes Type O Negative too, I believe...she's only 3 years older than my daughter ;-)

Keep up the good work, Samantha, you're on a roll!

Samantha G said...

Doris, thanks- I am thinking about doing a couple more pictures like this, maybe even the one with the two black longwing butterflies that was the inspiration for the composition.

I will have to pick out another frame and start the next one! I just need to get into a routine!