Dipping into the beautiful, fragile ocean

Sea shell beach art
© Betty Butler, Nautilus Beach, digital collage

I hope you are enjoying the lake or ocean beach this summer. Because it’s summer, I am posting the peaceful and softly colored image Nautilus Beach, pictured above. Even if you are not at the beach, I hope this image will take you there on a visual journey.

Coral reefs in peril

ocean abstrasts
© Betty Butler, Coral Grief, Digital collage

While the next image is visually pleasant with blue ocean imagery and fan coral, it also addresses the serious problem of coral bleaching. As I have turned my artistic focus from shells and shores to the ocean itself, I have found artist organizations concerned with climate change. I was fortunate enough to be able to write an article for the blog Artists and Climate Change. In the post I said the following about Coral Grief, pictured above:

Coral reefs thrive within a narrow temperature range. Their fate is being challenged as the oceans absorb much of the heat created by global warming. When coral is stressed, it discharges its algae and becomes white or bleached, and vulnerable to death. A major bleaching event is considered one of the most visual indicators of climate change. This image was produced by layering ocean and coral photography. With photo-manipulation, I was able to portray the coral as bleached. As I searched for an appropriate title, the term coral reef yielded to the reality of ‘coral grief.’

In spite of this reality, I intend to enjoy and celebrate our rivers, lakes and oceans. I will fight for their health as well.   

 

 

Artist Interview

A Dialogue with Creative Coworking

Art print of a digital collage of painting and photography
© Betty Butler, Starfish Portrait, Art Print, 12” x 12”

As we approach the opening of September 2016 Wine & Art Night at Creative Coworking, I would like to present a condensed version of the artist interview they did with me. I thought the questions were quite thoughtful, so here goes:

What sparked your initial interest in creating art?

I have been drawing and making things since I was young child. Luckily, I had parents that encouraged my creativity.

How would you describe your style?

For each art print, I blend my own painting and photography into a digital collage. In my current series, an imaginary beach is populated by starfish, sand dollars, sea urchins and seashells. In this invented world, vivid color drawn from my acrylic painting and resembling the northern lights, flows across these sea creatures.

Who are your influences?

Early in my college art education, I attended a large exhibit of the paper cut-out collages of French artist, Henri Matisse. I was struck by the bright color, movement and fanciful composition of his dancers, leaves and sea creatures. I also very much appreciate the close-up, stylized interpretations of nature by painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

What are your opinions on the Evanston/Chicago art community? How do you see your work in relation to this community?

The Evanston/Chicago art community is vibrant and varied. Additionally, I experience the Evanston art community in particular as friendly and welcoming of local talent. I am honored to be part of this community and exhibiting at Creative Coworking.                                                   

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/plans/projects?

I would love to exhibit in a traditional or alternative health care center. Viewers have observed that my work has a calming and meditative quality.

Are there particular motifs/themes/symbols that you are fond of using in your work?

I am drawn to curvilinear forms found in nature. These can be seashells/waves, botanical forms or clouds. I often add a patterning motif to create movement and visual excitement. 

View the entire interview here.

Patterns in nature

© Betty Butler, Sea and Sky, Photo montage, patterns in nature
© Betty Butler, Sea and Sky, Photo montage

I am always searching for the unifying patterns in nature, whether it is the spiraling design of a seashell, the petals of a flower or magnificent formations of clouds. As an artist, I take joy in these visual treasures. In my art prints, I interpret the rhythms, colors and patterns in nature. I incorporate and organize these elements in pleasing, yet surprising ways.

Patterns in art

In my art print below, one can observe a galaxy of pattern on three starfish. They are nestled on an imagined beach among naturally purple seashells. In this invented world, bright colors, drawn from my acrylic painting, and resembling the northern lights, blend with these sea creatures.

© Betty Butler, Ocean Lights, art print,patterns in nature
© Betty Butler, Ocean Lights, art print of blended of painting and photography

 

 

Reflecting on my art

Digital collage of photography
Nautilus Beach, Digital collage, 18” x 18”

I have asked myself, why do I consistently use the rounded shapes of natural forms such as seashells and flowers as subject matter for my digital collages? In addition, I wonder why I am attracted to nature’s patterns in clouds and waves on water. I have concluded that not only is this subject matter beautiful, but it is calming and gives me peace. Of course, as an artist, I also seek an original perspective through color, line and form. Perhaps for me, combining both the meditative and the novel is the key to my motivation.