I have been thinking about butterflies lately. The gorgeous jewel tones that I have from Island Batik are perfect for them.

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

There are a lot of butterflies in my house. I have three little girls and butterflies kinda goes with their style. However, so many of the butterfly depictions that I see on stickers and other cutsy girl-stuff are SO pastel and pink. They are daintily colored in every hue on the bubblegum-plum scale.

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Last  May I got to spend time in the Amazon rain forest when I visited the Tiputini Biodiversity research station in Ecuador. There were so many crazy butterflies! And pink was pretty much the only color they were not!

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

I have included a few photos from Tiputini in this post for you to see what I mean. There is nothing dainty and innocent about these creatures. Rather they are crazy and bold and flamboyant. They scream for attention, and sure enough: Aren’t all these colors about attracting a mate?

I like dainty pink butterflies as well, and I plan to make some in the future, but today is all about the insane colors that nature paints its creatures.

If we wanted the pure and innocent in butterflies we would be decorating our pink little-girl stuff in caterpillars…never mind….this caterpillar doesn’t exactly look innocent either.

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

It was an amazing experience to be hiking in silence through the rain forest. Your boots sticking in the mud on the trail and a mosquito buzzing in your ear. Then, out of the corner of your eye you see something blue move between the slender tree trunks. It’s a butterfly. About the size of a dinner napkin and an intense radiant blue that shimmers in the semi darkness in the forest. You fiddle with your camera, but before you have the lens-cap off the butterfly is gone and you almost think you imagined it. Was it really that big? That blue?

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

Then there are the smaller butterflies. Along the river, turtles are resting on logs and sticks and everyone has a butterfly or five sitting on its head. Butterflies land on your pink shirt because to them you look like a flower. Butterflies congregate on exposed rock and mud along the banks of the Tiputini river. They are white, yellow, black with jade green drawings, incredible orange ones with black stripes.

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

Photo: Felicia Brenoe

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

The butterflies are complicated. The few successful photos I took of them reveal intricate patterns and veining in the wings. Even the slender bodies have patterns on them. Even so, I want to play with the concept of butterflies. The seemingly unlimited diversity in size, wings shape, colors, and pattern.

butterfly_notebookI have been drawing butterflies in my notebook. I am too lazy to try to make them with two wings, thinking I can easily make a two-winged version if I trace the butterfly in Adobe Illustrator. I pick colors from my Island Batik fabrics to try to emulate their vibrancy. At first it was hard to sketch butterflies. I was resistant and frustrated that they weren’t actual butterfly species. I studied photos online and tried to copy key elements. After a while it became easier to make up new butterflies that still look like they could be a representation of the real thing.

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Photo: Gerd Corrigan

Can we seek to reproduce this beauty and diversity in fabric?

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