The art of buying Greenland

Greenland digital art
© Betty Butler, Global Effect, Digital Collage, 2017

Greenland has been in the news quite a bit lately. After Europe’s heatwave of 2019 spread north, Greenland’s ice sheet experienced a significant melting event. The result was that much of the island’s ice has turned to slush. As rivers of water pour into the ocean, a NASA Study predicts more long-term sea-level rise from Greenland ice. Then curiously, our President decided it would be an excellent time to broker a deal with Denmark to buy its autonomous territory of Greenland. Of course, the Danish Prime Minister declared the idea absurd.

Could anything be more ludicrous? Could our planet be in any more danger?

Global Effect (above) is abstract, but in some ways, it reminds me of the shapes on a world atlas. This digital collage is composed of manipulated photos from the ocean, beach, and one of my paintings. These images of earth and its patterns bring together my appreciation of nature and on-going concern with climate change as a global problem.   

New work accepted into Palm Springs gallery

Greenland ice melting
© Betty Butler, Searching for Food, Digital Collage, 2019

 I was honored to be accepted as an Exhibition Finalist in a show entitled Lines, Shapes & Objects. The gallery, named Fusion Art, is located in Palm Springs, California.  It is a brick and mortar, as well as an online gallery. The accepted work, Searching For Food (above) is part of my current series on nature and climate change. The exhibit was online through August 10, 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.

The fate of flowers and other living things

Who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of flowers? Their bright colors and enchanting scents attract insects and humans alike. The curving lines and multiple patterns of flowers invite me to utilize them as subject matter for my art. Why then, for this new art print, have  I borrowed the title of Pete Seeger’s enduring anti-war anthem, Where have all the Flowers Gone?

In an ironic twist, the meaning for my art is different, but no less dire. Instead of all the flowers finally going to graveyards, my collage portrays tulips fading and being swallowed by the ocean. It also incorporates a severe color palette of pink, black and gray. Therefore, it asks the question, what will happen to the flowers, fields, and coastal cities as the sea rises to claims them?

Two prints win entry into Colorado Environmental Photography Exhibition

art print
©Betty Butler, Throw Away Ocean

art print
©Betty Butler, Coral Grief

I am delighted to be part of the 9th Annual Environmental Photography Exhibition, held in conjunction with the 2018 Colorado Environmental Film Festival in Golden, Colorado. It is a worldwide curated photography exhibition. Like the Film Festival itself, the Photography Exhibition hopes to represent the shared visions of world communities that are concerned about environmental issues.

Opening Reception: February 23, 2018 – 5:30-7:30 PM

 

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.