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Butterfly at the Veil by Dawna Morton

Butterfly at the Veil, watercolor painting on gessoed canvas-board, by Dawna Morton, 2013.

I originally started this painting so I would have an entry for the local art associations art contest this summer, however life with 6 kids isn’t always conducive to having enough time to paint–and the kids come first 😉 I think I managed to get it done within about a month of the deadline. I had a photo of some ‘snow in summer’ flowers that I had taken through my front window as a photographic experiment after I got my new camera, and I loved the feel of the one this painting is based on –although the photo itself turned out a little blurry. I had a couple of small canvas boards a friend gave me for Christmas, and decided to use those to experiment with different media and effects for the background. Click here to see it as a work in progress, and to see some of the other background ideas I played with…

In order to quickly see how which background type looked best with the flowers, I printed out a copy of my reference photo and just cut them out of it so I could lay them over each of the canvases in turn. This worked extraordinarily well since the canvases weren’t much bigger than my printout. I ended up going with this purple watercolor because it more closely mimicked the feel I was looking for. with the deadline looming I decided to trace the paper cut out onto the canvas to save time. Hopefully nobody feels like that was cheating. I ten drew in the details and made some alterations–such as changing which direction the main blossom was facing. I also moved the flowers on this side of the window and suggested a curtain with light coming through it instead of a screen and the edge of the windowsill with the flowers outside. Then I added a butterfly to balance everything out and add some additions interest.

Everything was coming along nicely until the three-year-old got a hold of it. One of those moments where the house was suspiciously quiet for entirely too long prompted me to figure out what she was up to. She had managed to get herself into the art room and nabbed the paints and was happily painting away in a bold red. Thankfully She had laid a few pieces of paper across the top first–which caught the worst of it; however, there was still the problem of bright red splotches on a very simple all purple palette.

Luckily the red lifted off of the gessoed surface beautifully, and I did not have to go with plan b — adding a bunch of red flowers to the right hand corner.

As I was working on the composition and painting a symbolic meaning to everything came into play. The three sections of curtain across the window is a sort of representation of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost–united yet separate and distinct at the same time as they are one. Then there is the light coming through the curtain –which represents  inspiration, revelation and those moments when we feel that heaven is near. Truly the veil is thin sometimes. This is also a reference to the temple and going there for additional revelation, inspiration, peace and to be spiritual uplifted. The butterfly is a representation of being visited by the Holy Ghost, which was inspired by an article I read to my children many years ago in the Friend magazine about how being reverent is like sitting quiet and still so you can catch a butterfly, or feel the Holy Ghost. The flowers are a representation of each of us, as we grow and blossom in readiness to hear, inspiration is more frequent and clear, and easier to understand– and in turn spiritual light nourishes us so we can grow and blossom. And of course: God is the source of all light (revelation inspiration, and so on) and we are completely dependent on them. The overall feel and tranquility in this painting is symbolic of how we feel when we commune with God and the peace and comfort He sends us through the Holy Ghost.

You can find “Butterfly at the Veil” for sale as a print at FineArtAmerica, imagekind, Redbubble, zazzle , and Amazon. So far the original is not for sale. The family loves it too much 😉

Images and content on this blog are the intellectual property of  Dawna Morton (unless otherwise stated).

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Last night I went to a really great women’s meeting at my church. It was to celebrate the birthday of Relief Society which was organized in 1842.

One of the activities was to paint a 5×5 canvas. The teacher had prepared a demonstration on how to paint a lemon with “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade”on it. Some of us decided to paint something else. Since one of the ladies asked me how to paint an apple, I decided I would paint one too and try to talk her through it. I don’t think I do a good job of explaining and painting at the same time because she gave up and went to a different activity.

Anyway I think It turned out pretty well so I thought I’d post it here. The canvas was already primed, so I started out with a coat of purple paint. Purple is one of my favorite colors, and I also thought it would complement the apple’s red color nicely. Next I added a red apple shape and began adding the highlights and shadows. It needed to dry for awhile before I could go any further with the apple so I laid in the green foreground–being careful to let some of the purple underpainting show through.

Next I added the white apple blossoms and put in a little light yellow highlights and some purple shadows.Adding the branch and apple stem next. It was to wet to do any fine tuning on the blossoms, So I went back to work on the apple deepening the shadows and brightening some of the highlights. Adding the shadows beneath the apple and blossoms was next, using a mixture of purple and a touch of black. Normally I would just use a bluer shade of purple but I did not have a dark enough blue available for that. Then It was time to dry brush the final highlights and shadows on the apple and retouch the blossoms. The background needed a bit more life and brightened up a bit. Adding a light behind the apple and fading it out really made the apple “pop.” At first I put too much yellow in it, so I lifted it out with a damp napkin and reapplied a lighter shade, and then dabbed it again to create a slightly mottled effect. Before signing it I added a few touches of red around the edges and softened it with the napkin as well.

I did get frustrated with it at times because acrylic is not a medium I use frequently and I also did not have my good brushes with me. working with larger brushes is a good learning experience though. It is a good idea to try new things an push outside of our comfort zones. You might just like the results ( when frustrated I find it helpful to get up and walk around the room and come back to it a few minutes later with fresh eyes.) I think I’ll try this exercise again . It’s fairly inexpensive since canvases this size can be found in the dollar section at Michael’s 🙂

Images and content on this blog are the intellectual property of  Dawna Morton.
Dawna’s Buy               my art Gallery of Greeting Cards, Matted Prints, and T-shirts at RedBubble Buy               art

Dawna’s Fine Art Prints at

Dawna’s Zazzle Gallery of items featuring her Art and Photography

Dawna’s art on FineArtAmerica

Dawna’s art on Amazon

Visit Dawna’s fan page and become a fan on facebook!

see Dawna’s art & photography with the poetry of Glennis Roper*

Buy my t-shirts


You can also find Dawna on flickr


Dawna’s Facebook Fan Page

Dawna’s RedBubble Gallery

Buy my art

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