We don’t generally look at a beautiful butterfly like this Gulf Fritillary, fluttering fairy-like on my studio wall, and think about what it takes for this creature to get to this point in their life cycle. But yesterday I was treated to a partial metamorphosis in progress – the part where the caterpillar stops munching the passion vine leaves and turns itself into a paper sack.
It was an extremely windy afternoon, so you can hear the moan of the wind in the (one minute) video I took, but don’t be fooled. The movement of the caterpillar is not the effect of the wind blowing it, though I couldn’t help but worry that the tender filament by which it had attached its entire body to the wood was extremely slender.
I watched transfixed and imagined what it must take in the way of energy and endurance for this little creature to so thoroughly surrender itself to its transition to the paper body (chrysalid).
In some ways it’s not entirely dissimilar to spending ones days as I have lately, wrapping my life in paper and boxes for a move, not really knowing how it will be on the other – unwrapping – end. It’s a kind of temporary stasis.
Will that fragile casing of the caterpillar be strong enough for it to endure the upcoming change? And what about my own fragile casing? Will I have enough energy to see me through? Haha! Of course I will! But oh, so much still to pack before the truck arrives Tuesday morning. . .
and I take the big leap! Hopefully with elegance and abandon, like this dancer I sketched for practice last week!
Back to packing now. See you on the other side. . .the next post will be from Olympia!
There’s so much going on now in the winter garden. I keep poking my head outside my studio door to see how the Gulf Fritillary chrysalid is coming along with its metamorphosis. Moments ago it was wiggling its wing and two shiny eyes looked back at me from within its leaf-like encasing. Want to see?
I’m hoping it gets on with it before nightfall. It’s not something one wants to miss!
And then those fuzzy little knobs all over the pipevine are starting to plump out into the orchid-like red Dutchmen’s pipes I have sketched so many times. And that means that some time this month the butterflies will also arrive and lay their eggs and. . .well you know the cycle.
And then, since it’s been raining off and on, we have a new crop of ‘shrooms that are particularly lovely as they progress through the stages of their own life cycle.
inks, gesso, pencil, and collage on canvas 24″ X 24″
A continuation of my contemplation of the Japanese esthetic of wabi sabi that treasures the passage of time and a sense of impermanence. I was going for the patina of rustic, aged surfaces, and in the process called forth an image which honors the natural cycle of birth and death.
Where do images come from? There is an obvious answer when I am out sketching people and events, doing the pictorial storytelling or reportage which I’ve come to love so much. But when I explore the surface of the canvas, and something appears, I find that I am at a loss to answer. The painted surface has its own life then.
There is always some thread I can follow back to the circumstances of my life at the moment. I have this spring been witnessing the colorful life cycle of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly in my studio garden. And in the past two weeks I have lost count of the number of people known to me who have passed. It gives one pause, and that gives one paintings I suppose.
Later this month,June 25, 26, I’ll be teaching a weekend workshop: Mixed Media Painting: The Visual Poetry of Wabi Sabi at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. We will be accessing this rich esthetic with mixed media painting techniques, poetry, meditation and writing. There is still space if you want to come! For more information or to register, please visit my website.