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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 😉

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Fairy Ring in the Water #1

Last month my family went fishing at Trojan pond near Rainier, Oregon. It is a beautiful spot and rarely ever crowded. As usual I brought my camera along in search of reference photos. I came across a lovely sight as I hiked around the pond with the non-fishers in our family. There was a grouping of water plants in a circular formation in the greenish water. They glowed white in the sunlight, as the water shimmered around them. they seemed to float in the reflections like some sort of mystic fairy ring in the water.

Last week I decided to do a painting of it entirely from memory. ( This is an exercise in the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards). It is interesting how hard it is to remember details when painting from memory. Although remembering the general idea of an image is fairly simple, trying to remember the details clearly enough to paint them is nearly impossible. However, I really like how this turned out.

Water Fairy Ring, 11X15, 2008.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Do not copy.
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Oregon "Passionflower" #2.

All images on this blog are the unintellectual property of Dawna Morton. All Rights Reserved do not copy in any form. Photographic Prints are available for purchase in Dawna’s Zazzle Gallery, and Fine Art Prints are available for purchase in Dawna’s Imagekind Gallery.

When I was taking a walk the other day, I came upon a lovely site which I had never before seen even though I have hiked there more times than I can count over the past several years. Luckily I had my camera on me. ;D There was a humongous dark purple flower, which resembled a passionflower in full bloom. I could not believe my eyes. It was gorgeous! The light wasn’t the best, because it was the middle of the day, but I snapped some photos anyway.

Oregon “Passionflower” #3

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I was so excited that I went back later towards evening when the light was better to get more pictures. Lighting really made a difference. (I’ve posted both sets so you can see why it is best to take photos in the morning or the evening.) During the middle of the day the light comes down at a 90 degree angle, or close to it, causing photos to look flat and uninteresting.

Notice in photos 8, 9, and 10 how the light draws the attention to the flower rather than the background. I also makes the flower more rounded and 3 dimensional.

Oregon "Passionflower" #4



It’s a mystery to me what kind of flower this is, although I assume it is some sort of native species. It grew in almost full shade and the flower was about 6 inches or more tall. While I was out taking the second set of pictures, I bumped into the man who owns the adjacent property . He did not know what it is either, but said he used to have a bunch of them behind his garage–but pulled them out because they stink really bad. I could not smell anything and am thinking I wouldn’t mind having some in my yard a good distance from the house (just in case they DO smell LOL). Perhaps it is a relative of the skunk cabbage? I’m not sure because they grow in more marshy areas and you almost always smell those long before you see them. These were on a hill high and dry.

Oregon Passionflower #6

Oregon "Passionflower" #6

Whatever they are, apparently the reason I had never seen one despite the frequency of my walks down this particular trail is because it does not bloom very long. Less than 2 days after I took these pictures the bloom had died. Within a week the entire plant died back and the spot is now covered in morning glory instead. I’m glad I happened to take a walk down that way when my mystery flower was blossoming.

Oregon "Passionflower" #7

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Several days later I went to my friend’s house for an art day again. My friend worked on some miniature sculptures, and I decided to paint a picture of my Oregon “passion flower” from memory. Working entirely from memory is one of the exercises suggested in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards. For those who would like to learn to draw or increase their drawing skills, I would highly recommend getting a copy.

Oregon "Passionflower" #8

Entitled “Oregon ‘Passionflower’ Memory.” my painting is watercolor on paper 11×15.” skipping a pencil sketch, I started painting a translucent minty green glaze around the flower. I had intended to paint in the dark green foliage behind the flower as well, but liked the transparent glaze so well that I left it that way in the end. Next I painted in the fuchsia of the flower, leaving some lighter areas and adding some yellow highlights. Then I used purple for the stamen and the shading. As a finishing touch I painted the stem a minty green with fuchsia and purple shadows, repeating those colors with a light glaze in the corners.

Oregon "Passionflower" #9

Oregon "Passionflower" #10


Oregon Passionflower memory, watercolor 11X15

Oregon "Passionflower" memory, watercolor 11X15"

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update:

thanks to Heidi

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self portrait #1One of the contests, on Artist magazines art forum artistsnetwork.com, which I entered this past year was a timed self portrait: 3o minutes to do a portrait of yourself in front of the bathroom mirror. I have done self portraits before, but never with a time limit like that. It was extremely challenging. Trying to hold the same position while looking back and forth between the mirror and my paper added to the difficulty.

I started with some colored paper I had on hand and tried doing a limited palette sketch with black, white, and one other color– in this case–brown, (also an exercise in the book Drawing on the Right side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards, which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to learn to draw or improve their drawing skills). I chose a lavender colored paper because I like purple and I thought it would be fun to let the color of the paper be my eye color. It took me quite a bit of time to get set up the way I wanted with tousling my hair just so (hey I am vain. LOL 😉 ) I think I actually spent almost as much time preparing as I did working on the portrait! At first I hated it. I thought it made me look like some kind of ghoul. Nothing eats at self image like a self portrait that does not go well. It had more Grey in the paper than what I was counting on, and it took me an hour to compete. After a week or two I decided I kind of liked it, but only when the light hits it just right so the paper does not look so gray. I did one other colored pencil on yellow paper, because I thought that would bring out the colors of my blond hair. I did get that one done in less time, but I liked it even less than the first, so I am not posting it here.

I decided make my next attempt to meet the time limit in Watercolors. In order toportrait #4 (unfinished)t in time, I skipped making a preliminary sketch in pencil and instead drew directly with the paint brush. another thing that saved time was choosing a limited pallet of three colors, one being the color for my hair, the other for the skin tones and one for the eyes and sweater. It does not exactly look like me, but It was done on time and I do like it. I especially like the glow in the skin tones down around my neck. the time constraints did cause some difficulty though because it forced me to work wet on wet in areas that would have been better if they’d had time to dry first. complete i

Encouraged by the third portrait, I decided to try yet again. Using similar techniques I tried to get a better match for my hair color. when the 3o minutes were up I still had not addedself portrait #4 the eyes, lips, or background. It took another 15 minutes to complete, reminding me of some of picasso’s work, although that wasn’t really what I had intended.

Undaunted , I decided to try one last time. while completing this one I had music running through my head that was reminiscent of mission impossible the whole way through reminiscent of my do or die attitude on this one. I used the same process as the others, forcing myself to be optimistic and trying not to look at the timer too much. I did get this last and 5th attempt done within the time requirements, i like it, and i do think it at least resembles me somewhat.

When I showed self portrait #5them to my husband and asked him what he thought , he said it reminded him of a free writing exercise in which the author writes whatever comes to mind for 1/2 an hour and then evaluates it later to see what is going on in the subconscious. I liked that comparison. It was interesting to see how different each painting turned out in conjunction with how I was feeling at the time…

Although I did not win the competition, I do feel like I learned about myself and improved my skills in the process. The winner did their sketch in ink and then used a wet brush to bleed the ink for the shading. That’s intriguing. I’ll have to try that sometime.

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

Dawna’s Fine Art Prints at imagekind.com

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
http://PoemsProseAndArtistry.imagekind.com/
http://www.zazzle.com/poemsproseartistry*
http://www.redbubble.com/people/poemsproseart

Buy my t-shirts

 

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