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.

London Gallery Exhibits Colour

I am very pleased to be accepted into the online exhibition, Colour, July 15 – August 14, 2021, Tebbs Contemporary Art Gallery, London UK. My chosen works are pictured at the very top.

Check out the fast-paced video catalog of the many vivid artworks. I also had the opportunity to be interviewed for the exhibition on ZOOM. After a short talk about my work, guest viewers had some provocative questions for me. For example, one participant asked if I consciously chose to retain my painterly style when I shifted from canvas to digital art. I answered that painting had certainly informed the digital work to come.

One good question from another participant was how I obtained my photographs, i.e., the internet? I answered no, I took them myself, as to avoid copy right conflicts. I have taken many photos of natural subjects close to home and others on travel overseas.

Continuing with this topic, I explained that some of the photographs, such as the seahorses, were posed close-ups. With Photoshop, I silhouetted the shapes and filled them with color. I expressed that one benefit of digital collage is that an artist can use a poignant shot in various places in different works.

Someone asked about my artistic path, and I described my journey from fine arts to graphic design and back again, noting that I had learned different things from both disciplines.

It was quite an interesting experience chatting with and answering questions of artists across the globe.

At the very top are my five works chosen for the exhibition at Tebbs Contemporary Art Gallery. Clockwise: Australian Fires, Shelter in Place, Colorful Seahorses, Kangaroo Escape, I Can’t Breathe.

Joyful Blossoms

joyful blossoms
(c) Betty Butler, Joyful Blossoms, Digital Collage, 2021

These chive blossoms were the perfect subject for my new collage series because I love color, pattern, and oval shapes. I was intrigued by the sense of whimsy these botanicals demonstrated as they sprung from the earth. In addition, the flowers are environmentally friendly, attracting bumblebees. They are even edible, adding a mild garlic flavor to food. Finally, to complement the beauty of these florals, I added green and purple graphic elements.

For me, this colorful cluster represents the joy of spring and summer coming forth. At the same time, they are analogous to our new path; the need for social distance is lessening, and people are gathering again.

A Cautionary Tale

joyful blossoms
(c) Betty Butler, Lurking, Digital Collage, 2020

Yet, let other countries tell a cautionary tale. Early in 2021, the government of India imposed few restrictions on crowds because they thought the virus had peaked. Then the latest COVID-19 Delta variant appeared, and illness increased rapidly. It is more contagious and affects younger people in more significant numbers than the original virus. Of course, many counties also lack access to the vaccines that we have.

Lurking (above) is also composed of purple and green colors but has a more somber tone and feel. I created it in October 2020, when we were in the thick of the pandemic. This image blends thistle foliage with a portrayal of the coronavirus. These spiky, intertwining plants could be symbolic of a place where the virus still lurks among us.

January gladioli surprise

Gladioli
(c) Betty Butler, Winter Gladioli, Digital Collage Print, 2019

I started Winter Gladioli (above) with photographs taken last August 2019. Then, I brought these flowers straight into January of 2020 by overlaying them with bare trees and muting parts of their bright red-pink color to white and gray.   Immediately, it appeared like the gladioli were part of a snowy scene.  Similarly, our climate has been unrecognizable in many ways across the globe. From massive fires in Australia to continuing ice melts in the Arctic, 2019 alone has seen unprecedented climate changes. These are the kinds of surprises, I for one, do not like to see.

Yet, I do enjoy using gladioli as subject matter purely for its beauty. I appreciate the gladiolus for its bright colors and succession of organic shapes. Here are some interesting facts about them. For instance, because of their long, pointed shape, they are named after the Latin word “gladius,” meaning sword. In Rome, gladioli were associated with gladiators. Gladioli are related to the iris family and originated in South Africa, finally coming to America in the late 18th century. 

Gladioli

I appreciate the gladiolus for its bright colors and succession of organic shapes.

Berlin exhibition in March 2020

I am honored to be included in an exhibition this March in Berlin, Germany, entitled, i am. an immigrant. The exhibit was curated by Dorit Jordan Dotan, artist in resident, Institut fur Alles Mogliche (Institute for Everything.) The exhibit explores demographic changes that affect global and local politics, economies, and day to day life. History forewarns what can happen when hate and fear grows among people coming from different cultures, who now share the same space. This group exhibition is a place to explore these clashes of culture. More info will be forthcoming.

Gladioli
© Betty Butler,Through the Desert, Digital Collage Print, 2019

Print series honors the first moon landing

moon landing
© Betty Butler, Magenta Moons, Art Print, 2012

That warm, muggy evening of July 20, 1969, seems like yesterday. It was 50 years ago. I had just watched the live televised moon landing and then went out to my front yard to be with some youthful friends. We gazed at the full moon, with its bright surface and craters. It seemed so distant, and yet a little closer than before, with the utterance of the words by astronaut Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

In honor of the first moon landing anniversary, I am re-posting my collages from the series, Full Moon Musing. I started working with a simple photograph of a springtime tree and billowing clouds behind it. With a few experiments in PhotoShop, I realized that the clouds also took on the shape of craters within the appearance of full moons. Thus, the series of art prints began. Eventually, I added elements of water, shells, and flowers to the circular shapes. I was stunned at the visual connections between earth, water, and sky.

Daffodils and warming oceans

Temperature Rising, Betty Butler, Digital collage, 2017

Yes, we in the Midwest U.S. are looking forward to the lifting of this long cold winter. In anticipation of spring, I am posting a photograph of beautiful daffodils that will be blooming soon.

In spite of a cold start to March 2019, the Journal of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences reports that 2018 was the hottest year on record for the oceans. They state that this warming is due to human activity. Of course, warming oceans mean shrinking polar ice, rising sea levels, and coastal flooding.

photograph of daffodils

Daffodils will be blooming soon.

Temperature Rising (top) is a visual commentary on global warming. I wrote in a blog for Artists and Climate Change that for me, “this image became an amalgamation of earth and sun, with the sun clearly encroaching on the available space. I started with a photograph of waves in the cobalt-blue Gulf of Mexico. With a photo-manipulation program, I inverted the ocean, and it stunningly became a bright yellow-gold. Inversion is the equivalent to reversing a color photograph to that of a negative. I found it interesting that the yellow-orange area bears some resemblance to sunspots and the bright areas (faculae) that surround them.

As an artist, I am fascinated with the patterns repeated in nature, from the spots on seashells, to similar spots on leopards. The photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of newly forming stars in the ‘Pillars of Creation’ could be mistaken for exaggerated cumulonimbus clouds that accompany earthly thunderstorms. If these visual patterns are connected, aren’t all creatures and systems similarly bonded and worthy of concern?”

Getting back to our weariness of winter, when the daffodils do bloom, I hope you enjoy them. I know I will.

Warm colors for cold days

As the temperatures plunge and the snow falls, allow these new beach collages to take you to a pleasant warm place. In your imagination, this is a place where you can walk along a beautiful, fanciful beach, where starfish, sea urchins, seashells and bright colors populate the path. Imagine yourself dipping your toes in the warm, inviting sand while feeling a refreshing ocean breeze.

I hope these images give you a slight reprieve from winter’s reign.

The starfish are back

I have used starfish (sea stars) in my digital collages on and off for almost five years to create these imagined beaches. Coincidentally, it was five years ago that the stars began to suffer a massive die-off on California’s coast. Scientists now believe that the cause was multi-factored, including warmer waters and a virus.

But the starfish are coming back!  Scientists have recently observed young sea stars flourishing on the coasts. A new study compared DNA of sea stars from before and after the outbreak and found the juveniles who are succeeding in coastal ecosystems today share a gene that resists the virus, suggesting that the virus catalyzed a process of natural selection. Score one for the environment.

Flowers shine a light on energy concerns

This new image visually contrasts flowers and the aging technology of the electrical grid. These flowers, although thin and wiry like the transmission lines, are animated and lively. By comparison, the towers appear to be an ancient construct. As the window for preventing dramatic climate warming closes, the energy transmitted through the grid continues to be produced by a 63% blend of fossil fuel and nuclear, rather than environmentally friendly renewable sources.

The electric grid in its current state brings to mind the over year-long recovery of Puerto Rico from the destruction of category five Hurricane Maria. The island grid was almost totally destroyed. The power has not yet been restored to all of its citizens. Puerto Rico, vulnerable to storms, is also rich in renewable sources such as wind, solar, water, and biomass. Still, with our current laws, FEMA is required to restore power to match the destroyed system exactly as it was.  And so, the government is currently rebuilding the grid without updates. Tall towers are being built in inaccessible areas such as mountain tops in favor of more manageable local grids fueled by solar or wind. In addition, the importing of expensive fossil fuel needs to continue.

In spite of these FEMA requirements, philanthropists and private companies have come in to help. They donated roof-top solar systems, which form small renewable grids. This technology has helped some neighborhoods regain their electricity. While Puerto Rico’s energy problems and recovery are an extreme example of lack of economic and environmental foresight, I hope that we as a nation can learn from these missteps.