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

Summer Remembered

Summer
© Betty Butler, Firefly Garden, Digital Collage, 2021

Before we face colder weather, I would like to recall last summer by describing this new digital collage. I was inspired one July evening by a multitude of beautiful lights among the flowers. Not only were the patterns intriguing, but I have also since learned that these flashes function as the insects’ mating language. How could I portray these fireflies’ dancing lights in an art form, I wondered? Well, first I took several photographs of hosta flowers. Then, almost by accident, the line-work in my digital painting morphed into an image resembling lights in motion. Therefore, I was satisfied that I had captured this magical scene. 

Summer Exhibition at Envision Gallery

Summer

The gallery was searching for work that embodied the essence of summer.

© Betty Butler, Playful Blossoms, Digital Collage, 2021

I am honored to have been selected for Envision Arts online gallery, based in Dallas, Texas, titled Summer II. One of my chosen works is featured above. The gallery was searching for work that embodied the essence of summer, be it subject matter, color, or feeling. It’s a contemporary show, with artists from various US states and Moscow, Russia, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Barcelona, Spain. Although the exhibition went online in June 2021, you can view the show here in the gallery’s archive.

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.

Prints juried into NYC exhibit

prints accepted into NYC exhibitI am honored to have two of my digital collage prints accepted into Unnatural Selection, an exhibition highlighting species endangered by human activity. This happens as a result of over-harvesting, pollution, habitat destruction, exotic animal trade and trophy hunting, among other influences.

Unnatural Selection

Long Island City Artists LIC/A The Plaxall Gallery, 5-25 46th Ave., Queens, NY 11101, Opening Reception: Saturday, September 8th, 7-10 PM, On View: August 30th – September 30th, 2018

Horsepower (below) is one of the accepted prints, and I described it in my last post. “Like all marine life, seahorses are experiencing changes brought about by our warming planet. Much of the atmosphere’s heat and carbon dioxide are absorbed by the ocean like a sponge. Therefore, the climbing temperature is eroding their shallow tropical water habitat of seagrass and coral. In addition, excess carbon contributes to ocean acidification, which causes their bony structure to lose strength. Other hazards include: getting caught in fishing gear and being harvested for traditional medicine and souvenirs.

sea horse prints
©Betty Butler, Horsepower, 2018

Do seahorses have horsepower?

Seahorses are magical fish that seemingly float up and down, back and forth, and gracefully twist and tumble through their watery world. These dancers of the sea achieve their swimming power from one constantly moving dorsal fin.

On a visit to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, I observed these social creatures swimming in pairs. They gathered in groups, using their curly tails to cling to sea grass. Did you know that the male of the species carries the babies during gestation?

These beautiful creatures served as an inspiration for my latest digital collages. In the first print, I silhouetted the seahorses and then filled them with cars, packed in traffic. The name of the work, Horsepower, is a play on words between our vehicles, their carbon emissions, and the affected seahorses.

Like all marine life, seahorses are experiencing changes brought about by our warming planet. Much of the atmosphere’s heat and carbon dioxide are absorbed by the ocean like a sponge. Therefore, the climbing temperature is eroding their shallow tropical water habitat of sea grass and coral. In addition, excess carbon contributes to ocean acidification, which causes their bony structure to lose strength. Other hazards include: getting caught in fishing gear and being harvested for traditional medicine and souvenirs.

Celebrating marine life

sea horses
Betty Butler, Colorful Seahorses, 2018

In order to celebrate seahorses and all aquatic life, I was moved to create a companion art print that was fun and colorful. It uses many of the same graphic elements as the first digital collage. Rather than cars, I filled the silhouetted animals with bright colors. In a bit of good news, Starbucks and McDonald’s are intending to switch from single-use plastic to paper straws by 2020. This is because of consumer demand. It feels good to know that the public can make a difference to reduce the tide of our environmental problems.

Exploring the nature of red white and blue

As Memorial Day and the Fourth of July approaches, I would like to explore the color palette of red white and blue. In addition to being a patriotic theme, I have used this palette in the two prints that I am featuring today. Often times, blue refers to themes of water, as it does in Ocean Disruption (above). Wintry Tulips (below) utilizes the color to express season and mood. In the first piece, the red is mostly used for contrast, and in the second, it portrays the natural, spring-like color of the flowers. White appears as either waves or snow, in the two prints.

Ocean Disruption, the winner of two awards in 2017, contains recognizable photographs of ocean waves, and although one can clearly see the ocean black-drop, there is pattern and texture, as well as pure chaos.  The title refers to human influences that have disrupted our oceans with garbage: namely the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is one of several patches, swirling on each ocean, on huge rotating oceanic currents. The garbage, mostly plastic, does not disintegrate, and only breaks down no smaller than microplastics. These are then eaten by fish, birds and marine mammals, either killing them or allowing the plastic chemicals to travel higher into the food chain. A recent study, reported in National Geographic Magazine, has shown that much of the plastic consists of abandoned fishing nets, ropes and baskets. This fishing gear injures or kills innumerable marine animals every year.

On the brighter side, several organizations are working to monitor and pull the trash from the ocean.

Surreal blue tulips

red white and blue
© Betty Butler, Wintry Tulips, 2013

Wintry Tulips (above) is part of a series entitled Seasons.  This series invites the viewer to take a nontraditional voyage through the four seasons. In it, I hope to share my joy and contemplation of seasonal changes, and their analogies to the human experience. This print seems to be in the process of morphing from winter to spring. I have turned some of the tulips in a horizontal direction and transformed them into a bracing royal blue. They are shooting across a bleak scene of white snow and barren trees. Only fragments of the natural red tulips remain, suggesting that spring once existed, or will exist again.

In reality, spring’s warmth and blooming flowers have actually arrived. Enjoy the season!