Monarch butterflies make a huge annual migration every year from Mexico to Canada, or the other way around. Interestingly, they only go one direction. Mexican Monarchs lay eggs in Canada, then die. Canadian butterflies lay eggs in Mexico, then die – but while Canadian butterflies are still en route, they have to fly over Lake Erie. I’m sure you can understand that’s exhausting for a very small animal, so they hang out and rest for a while on my side of the lake.
The first time I saw this event, I didn’t understand what I was seeing at first. I thought the trees were confused and thought it was autumn, or perhaps the trees were dying because they were orange in summer. That just didn’t seem right. I had to walk a bit before I was close enough to see that the orange was solid butterflies.
I went with a photographer friend to catch Canadians on film. I took a lot of shots, then got bored because she kept shooting more pictures. My method was find a butterfly, click. Find another butterfly, click. There’s only so much of that that I felt a need to do.
My friend was much more… oh, pick a derogatory adjective or adverb. Or let’s just say she was methodical, picky, and tireless to my spontaneity. It’s not like this was painting or something important to me – and I never ask anyone to hang out while I paint. I just wanted a butterfly picture as filler for a newsletter or something. I wandered off and amused myself with beach activities until she finally had enough.
We compared photos. I got several of what I was looking for, perfect individual specimens. She didn’t get any of those. She took pictures of branches of Monarchs – which never occurred to me. It didn’t occur to her to take pictures of individuals. We both got good shots of the same event – that didn’t look remotely alike.
I sometimes think of this day as when my mind was expanded to include a different perspective. I’d still take photos of individual Monarchs if I happened to be at the lake on the right day, but I’d take at least one photo of a whole tree too.
Maybe most important, I understood myself better. I see small things, details, and don’t like to clutter stuff up with unnecessary items and extras. There’s a good side to this, but sometimes I’m too Spartan too. It’s just the way I am. I related to the butterflies and talked to them. I felt sympathetic of their exhaustion. My friend thought that was stupid.
It’s good to see things through someone else’s eyes sometimes. Collaborating with someone, or getting feedback can help me see the whole tree, or maybe a branch, or at least 2 of something. I made my friend see an individual. I think we both grew.
Artist, know thyself –which helps me understand the clay of who I am and what I can do.
I can also warn you about the dangers of art because I was leaning off of a wet, slippery deck, stretching to pick the perfect leaf to use for leaf prints on a painting... well, you can see where this is going. Thankfully I stopped my face from smashing into the brick patio, but I am bruised and sore. Nobody understands how much I suffer for art!
This art was one of my first blog posts. I know I have Monarch art somewhere, but it just seems like too much right now to dig through closets when I'm counting my boo boos, and I like this piece. It's even my actual baby face.