16" x 20", oil on panel
The Tailed Copper Butterfly is not just brown, but rich in varying tones. The colorful segments reminded me of muscles and the Body Worlds Exhibition I saw in Toronto last year. The show made a lasting impression in terms of making anatomy more tangible as well as with regard to personal fitness. An increased awareness of my own muscles through weights and dance is also effecting how and what I am able to depict in paint. A figurative clay class while attending Massachusetts College of Art years ago stayed with me, particularly sculpting a head from life using calipers: from the skull to muscles to a likeness. As a drawing instructor, I have often used the skeleton as subject matter, a traditional but still effective challenge.
In this painting, the color and shape of the left butterfly wing give the feeling of skin being pulled back. The brown hair on the right and the butterfly body also double as rolled up skin. If this makes you squeamish, don't see Body Worlds!
I am turning away from the dark grotto-like space behind me. The butterfly bridges me with that space. It is a symbol of renewal, and here has the added layer of meaning of strengthening and rebuilding muscle. It is a hopeful picture. While getting older and relatively accepting of aging, there is much to do and I'm not willing to embrace entropy.