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.

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.

Bold and Colorful

https://bettybutler.net
(c) Betty Butler Fiery Winter, Digital Collage, 2021

I am pleased to be among the artists accepted into the online exhibition Bold and Colorful, hosted by Exhibition Without Walls. The curator states that “with our world being so negative, we thought that we would like to brighten up things a little by having an exhibition that was upbeat in terms of images as well as audio. The title “Bold and Colorful” speaks to this as well.”

One of my accepted images is Fiery Winter (top.) I infused a snowy, hilly scene with glowing yellow, red and purple, while the trees remain a dark, bold black. One of my viewers commented that the yellow emanating from the houses gave her hope in a time of darkness.

Colorful Tulips

Soon, spring will be here, and like tulips blooming, I am feeling the hope of people coming together again…

Bold and Colorful
(c) Betty Butler, Tulip Calligraphy, Digital Collage, 2021

I created a new digital collage with the concept of bold and colorful in mind. To do this, I blended pink tulips with a strong calligraphic-like line drawing. Soon, spring will be here, and like tulips blooming, I am feeling the hope of people coming together again, as more of us have access to the vaccine and COVID-19 rates go down.

Exhibiting in Rome: Art in the Time of COVID

I am honored to be exhibiting in Rome, Italy: Art in the Time of COVID, the Effects of the Pandemic During Lock-down. This group exhibition is taking place at the Bauhaus Home Gallery, December 5 – 11, 2020.

I did not create these following digital collages with a sense of joy, but rather an urgency to express my concern about a plight that has engulfed people across the entire world. I Can’t Breathe (vertical image below,) speaks to a collision between the crises of the murder of George Floyd and the US reaching 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. Six months later, the number of lost souls has climbed to 282,000. Even though a vaccine is on the horizon, far more deaths will inevitably occur.

Selected Images

Exhibiting in Rome
(c) Betty Butler, The Shadow, Digital Collage, 11×14 in., 2020
Exhibiting in Rome
(c) Betty Butler, I Can’t Breathe, Digital Collage, 14×11 in., 2020

Exhibiting in Rome
(c) Betty Butler, Escape Plan, Digital Collage, 11×14 in., 2020

Unbelievable 2020

(c) Betty Butler Escape Plan, Digital Collage, 2020

Unbelievable 2020. This year we witnessed more than 200,000 deaths in the United States resulting from COVID-19. We also experienced police violence, protest and civil unrest, the worst California wildfires on record, and a president attempting to win an election with lies, deceit, and probable chaos yet to come.

Of course, my art has been influenced by some of these events. Escape Plan (above) started as a high contrast photograph of a street scene in NYC (from my time at The Cooper Union School of Art, 1973.)  The street, probably an alleyway, shows buildings with fire-escapes and barbed wire smack down the middle. Then I added silhouettes of people, the virus, and digital painting. The fire escape in the image alludes to a hopeful escape plan from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Of course, at this moment, there is none in sight, except for the practical measures of social distancing and mask-wearing. The president lies (or down-plays) the truth of COVID-19, so his base is reluctant to put these measures into place. Remarkably, mask-wearing has become politicized. In this image, there are only people traumatized by the barbed wire and looming disease.

California Fires

(c) Betty Butler, Fire Escape, Digital Collage, 2020

I created Escaping the Fire as a reaction to the devastating Australian fires of 2019-2020. Yet, the devastation continues in the western United States. Roughly 100 million acres of land have burned, making 2020 the largest wildfire season in California’s history. The intensity of the fires has been increased by drying and heating from human-induced climate change.[5][6]

With all of these dire events upon us, I still believe we will come out more resilient and creative on the other side.