Saturday, November 26, 2011

Late November Buckeye

We like to take a walk on most holidays. And based on the number of people we see we're not alone. But it's rare that we got the weather we've had this Tbankgiving holiday. Sunny and in the 60s.

Perhaps that explains the Common Buckeye we found at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education yesterday. These butterflies are in fact common but we don't see them more than once or twice a year. Part of that is because we never go out with the primary intention of finding butterflies. When we do they're always a bonus, just like dragonflies. But both of them add to the pleasure of a day outside.

And if you're able to see them magnified through binoculars you have to just stop in wonder. They certainly give birds a run for their money when it comes to aesthetics. This one in particular is gorgeous.

If I were a photorealistic type of artist I'd try to render every color, every gradation of one color into another. But I just have never had any desire to paint in such a way. So this quick sketch of ink and watercolor tries instead to get a sense of the excitement of being outside, of seeing this beautiful butterfly perched on some oak leaves on the ground.

I've seen a number of artists who've done a wonderful job of portraying butterflies in their environment, definitely not in the photorealistic style. One of the best is the late David Measures. Another is Barry Van Dusen with his own version of a Common Buckeye.
Finally Bruce Pearson seems to do a wonderful job on whatever he sees outside! What i like about all of these is that they capture the excitement of being outside, of seeing nature outside. To me this is far more interesting and artistic than any photorealistic renderings.

I wish I could say that my little sketch at top was done from life like the work of the artists I've just mentioned. I did one field sketch of this Common Buckeye but I also took some photos. This is based more on one of the photos than on the field sketch. But I'm working my way to doing more painting outside. Next year when the predictably warm weather returns I hope to have more to show along those lines.

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