Category Archives: flowers

What’s Black and White and Blue All Over?          

whats black and white and blue all over
© Betty Butler, Abstract Vases, Digital Collage, 2024

What’s black and white and blue all over? Well, my new digital collage, Abstract Vases, is just that. This piece is devoid of my usual bright colors but explores the dramatic shape of a photographed vase displaying a single chrysanthemum. This vase is then repeated. The original vase and flower are white, while I added black and teal blue to the others in Photo Shop. Finally, I layered these forms over an expressionist digital painting, subtle in color but rich in pattern.

Black, White, Blue and More in Pastel

I have been observing these vases for a while through my work in pastels. The work above left, Three Ceramic Orbs, reflects the white vessels on a black towel with a background of subtle blue violet.

The upper right pastel, Plant sans Flowers, is a more colorful work. It is a portrait of an African violet plant. Even without the lovely purple flowers, the plant’s leaves are rich in various sizes and patterns. They have a slight sheen, which calls for highlights in places. Their undulating pattern invited me to draw with multiple shades of greens. Lastly, I added blues and purples for a harmonic color pallet.

Setting Sunflowers of Autumn

autumn colors
© Betty Butler, Setting Sunflowers of Autumn, Digital Collage, 2023

As fall descends on the upper hemisphere, I was moved to incorporate the colors of the season into my new work. With the circular sunflowers representing the sun, this new digital collage, Setting Sunflowers of Autumn, alludes to shorter days and earlier fall sunsets. Like the petals above, the leaves also sport yellow, orange, and scarlet hues.

In addition, I am intrigued by fractals, nature’s self-repeating forms at various scales. The center disc of a sunflower grows in a fractal spiral, so I created a green and black background texture to echo this effect.  

More Autumn Colors, in Pastel

autumn colors

Although the pastel to the left is a pastel still-life, it was inspired by the season’s colors. To describe my vision, I wrote a short narrative after a drive among the hills where I live: in Wisconsin, along the Mississippi, autumn brings a feast for the eyes. I noticed this driving a winding road between the bluffs, rolling and climbing toward the blue sky and then plunging into the valleys below. The mid-green trees displayed sun-kissed touches of yellow, and I even noted an occasional shock of red. Interspersed among the hills were farmlands offering a scene of golden stalks of corn. Around the curve, I observed beige prairie grasses that rolled up and down the terrain.

© Betty Butler, Autumn Colors in a Vase, Digital Collage, 2023

Daffodils Inspire Artists and Poets

  © Betty Butler, Multi-color Daffodils I, Digital Collage, 2023

As a visual artist, I am inspired by daffodils. Then, recently, I was searching for a poem I had read in high school when I stumbled across one of 18th-century William Wordsworth’s poems, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” It is commonly known as “Daffodils.” Reading the poem reminded me of my childhood experience receiving a poetry workbook with spaces to illustrate the poems. I remember vigorously drawing in the pictures. It was so much like that experience, but in reverse; I had just found a companion poem for my new digital art.

It is a poem reflecting the joy and wonder of encountering a host of golden daffodils. I am also inspired by the bright yellow flowers and their visual repetitions of cones, petals, and long stems. Therefore, I arranged them in an exciting composition, photographed them, and played with the elements of color and light. You can read the first two stanzas of the poem below.

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”  
                          
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.  

William Wordsworth
daffodil art
© Betty Butler, Multi-color Daffodils II
daffodils inspire artist and poets
© Betty Butler, Photography of daffodils

Color in Winter

PASTEL DRAWINGS
© Betty Butler, Yellow Iris, Digital Collage, 14 x 11 in, 2022

Those of us living in the northern climes know winter has dished out its traditional dose of cold and snowy weather. Therefore, I am thinking ahead to warmer days when irises bloom. I began this image with photographs of irises. Then I digitally drew an iris on top of the layered photos. The next question was, what color would the drawn flower become? I chose yellow, the opposite of purple on the color wheel; this opposition brings out the brightest qualities in the other color. I also allowed some violet petals to peek through. Finally, the yellow overlaps and under-laps the black marks to integrate the image.

Interestingly, the iris takes its name from the Greek for rainbow, which is also the name for the Greek goddess of the rainbow. This is possibly about the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species.

Introducing “Pastel Drawings” to my Portfolio

PASTEL DRAWINGS
© Betty Butler, Four Green Apples, Pastel on Paper, 8 x 14 in, 2022

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have been drawing and creating pastels of natural forms. While the same principles of color, line, and texture apply, the hands-on work with soft pastels is a nice variation from my digital work. See my pastel drawings portfolio.

Art Work Chosen for Still Life Exhibition

still life
© Betty Butler, Contemplating Chrysanthemums, Digital Collage, 2022

I am pleased to be included in the Texas-based Envision Arts Gallery online exhibition titled Still Life. The chosen still lives range from more traditional to whimsical paintings, photography of expected and unexpected objects, and digital collage.

In Contemplating Chrysanthemums, above, I challenged myself to merge digital drawings and flower photography. To start with, I manipulated the photo to progress outwardly from its black-and-white center to various intense shades of violet. Then, I intermingled the photography with the digitally drawn and painted interpretations of the blossoms for an intricate effect. I decided to enter this image because I could imagine taking these flowers from the garden and placing them on the dining room table for a pleasant accompaniment to dinner.

The exhibition runs through the end of November.

Creating a Still Life in Pastel

still life
© Betty Butler, Five Red Apples, Soft Pastel, 2022

Along with my digital work, I have been drawing and creating pastels of natural forms. This allows me to work out various ideas with line and color. When working strictly in a digital format, I missed the more direct, hands-on work that drawing and working in pastels afford me. At the same time, I have developed ideas while jumping between the two media. Let me know if you would like to see more pastels in the future.

Exhibiting at Toronto Gallery

Toronto gallery
(c) Betty Butler, I Can’t Breath, Digital Collage, 2020

I am honored to show my work in the online exhibition titled Collage at the John Aird B. Art Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada. The project showcases contemporary Canadian and international artists’ handmade and digital collage-based works. The jurors were Ken Moffat, Canadian author of Troubled Masculinities: Reimaging Urban Men, and Toronto-born artist Sebastein Miller, whose recent work is entitled Civil Disobedience. Ideas for my chosen work, I Can’t Breathe (detail above) came to me as I heard George Floyd’s last words, which echoed the words of seriously ill and dying COVID-19 patients.

Contemplating Chrysanthemums

Mums or Chrysanthemums are the quintessential flowers of autumn. In anticipation of the season, I have been photographing, drawing, and digitally collaging them all summer. The left image, Portrait in Line and Color, includes a photo and drawing layered upon it. I am intrigued by the visual back-and-forth between the two media. In the right image, Color Collage, I added some drawn elements, but it is primarily a digital montage of photographic color shifts. Finally, I hope this colorful time of year brings you joy and serenity.

Work Included in Art Journal

art included in journal
© Betty Butler, Flowers for Ukraine, 12in. x 12in, Digital Painting, 2022

I am honored to be included in the Transformative Power of Art Journal, summer edition, 2022. Creators submitted work on the topic of “on war and peace.” This international forum reviews sharable media from written to visual to musical creations. With Flowers for Ukraine, I began by digitally painting the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag on my screen. From there, I overlaid the flag with loosely drawn flowers. Finally, I added various shades of red because even though I might hope that flowers would offer comfort, there is no escaping the bloodshed that results from warfare.

This journal adds to the ongoing scholarly conversation about forms of art as catalysts of transformation, whether experienced by witnessing a work by another artist, or by the process of creation, and often it is through the experience of these two in conjunction with each other where transformation occurs.

Amy M Anderson, PhD, MFA, MALS, Publisher, Transformative Power of Art Journal

Tuxedo Tulips

art included in journal
© Betty Butler, Tuxedo Tulips, 14in. x 12in, Digital Collage, 2022

This new work employs a more positive approach to using flowers as subject matter. The lighthearted title Tuxedo Tulips refers to the black and white digital line drawing, which contrasts a softer pink and purple photograph. Lastly, for added interest, I layered a halftone texture on some areas of the image.

Flowers for Ukraine

Flowers for Ukraine
© Betty Butler, Digital Collage, Tulips Within/Flowers for Ukraine, 2022

I am a news junkie, so I was fully aware that Russia’s military had surrounded Ukraine. Yet, I was still alarmed and upset to actually hear the bombs and witness the explosions on cable TV. I was working on my new spring series, and I titled the above image, Tulips Within. This referred to the tulips encircled by a line drawing of a tulip. Later I changed the name to, Tulips Within/ Flowers for Ukraine. Like the tulips contained by the digital lines, the Ukrainians are also surrounded.


Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Flowers for Ukraine
© Betty Butler, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Digital Painting, 2022

After February 24th, 2022, I had to express my feelings about the war using the theme of flowers differently. With the help of silhouetted honeysuckle flowers overlaid on the colors of the Ukrainian flag, I tried to portray the chaos and disarray. I borrowed the title from Pete Seeger’s 1955 classic anti-war folk song Where Have All the Flowers Gone? In the 1960s and beyond, it was recorded by The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, and others. Unfortunately, this song never seems to lose its relevance.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone, songwriter Pete Seeger, recorded by The Kingston Trio