The inspiration for this month’s floral oil painting took me on a twisting but fruitful path. It all started with a recent class I took at the Kirkland Arts Center, Acid-Free Intaglio. I’ve been wanting to take an etching class for years, and I was thrilled to see that it was finally offered in a location near me. And even better, the instructor, Brad Taylor, teaches a way to etch with electricity instead of toxic acids (I highly recommend this class!).
Once I signed up for the class, I had to figure out what I wanted to make! And as I often do, I turned to art history for inspiration. I stumbled upon a plethora of woodblock prints made by Japanese artist Keika Hyakugiku, “100 Chrysanthemums from Keika”. You can see a few of them on the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives page. I love the contrast between the simple compositions and the complicated forms.
Letting Inspiration Lead You
I immediately began making sketches, one of which became this months painting. Three others, I plan to I plan to make paintings from in future (two larger works and another miniature). Funnily enough, none of these sketches was destined to become an etching!
To let inspiration take its own winding path means I have to let go of some amount of control. Part of creating art is to always be receptive to new ideas and accept that, like most things in life, ideas can change. I’m really excited about this new painting. I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of painting flowers! I hope you enjoy it, too.
The swallowtail in this month’s oil painting is a Common Rose. This red-bodied butterfly inhabits much of Asia, including Japan. Happily, this species is extremely abundant. The bright colouration and pattern of the wings are meant to indicate to predators (birds and lizards) that this butterfly is inedible. As a larvae, they feed on creepers and climbers of the genus “Aristolochia”, and they retain the toxic acids they get from these plants in their butterfly form. The colors are a symbol of danger to some creatures, but they’re dazzling to my eyes!
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