A few years ago, I went to the desert of Utah in late November. The objective of the trip was to hike, canyoneer, see what it's like to camp in the winter and wear a wet suit in a wet/icy canyon, and maybe forge a few new friendships. On the first day, the group I was with decided to hike to the end of a canyon, most of which would be a hike, but there would be some ropes involved toward the end.
About halfway along the way, I realized that the group's values were a little different than mine. They were maybe a little more fit, so they all walked fast, and they were keen on making it all the way to the end. They also knew each other well, so conversation with me was that "getting to know you" type small talk, not that deep or meaningful yet. Eventually, I was bringing up the rear, with a large distance between me and the rest of them. At one point, I wanted a short break, so I stopped and the group carried on without me. I was feeling pretty alone and sorry for myself. But then, out of nowhere, a Monarch butterfly appeared, and landed on a rock right in front of me. Remember, this was the desert in the winter. Living things were not in great abundance, especially things that were not plants.
This butterfly made me feel a lot better. I felt like it was a reminder from the universe that I wasn't alone after all. It was exactly what I needed to stand up and carry on after the group, although the rest of the day was spent mostly with myself. Ever since then, I've had the image in my head, and I've wanted to paint that butterfly. Above is my first ever attempt.
Here is an action shot of me putting the finishing touches on it! Besides the back story, there is more to this project than what you can see. My friend Marilee, who wouldn't call herself an artist, was recently inspired to paint. One day she just went to the store and bought oil paints and canvasses, and declared one summer afternoon an art day. She invited some people over and of course, I went. Not only did I see this as a good opportunity to spend time with my friend (who incidentally, was on that trip a few years ago--a friendship that has definitely flourished), but to try out a medium I've had no success with in the past: oil paints. What a great chance! Over the course of three art dates, Marilee and I each made a painting. I learned lots about brush strokes, the shape of a butterfly, paint layers, and how little I know about how to paint! Nevertheless, I feel very satisfied with the final outcome and I think there's a chance I might try this painting again, once I learn some more.
Go back up to the top photo and have a second look (click on it for a better view). My favorite part of the painting: paw prints from Marilee's cat as it was drying after our second layer of paint, down the left side! Hooray for texture!
Speaking of paws, we now own a dog. This is Hooley. He is 3½ and we got him Monday from a local shelter. Those of you who know me well know that this is a HUGE deal and adjustment. Indeed, today's art day has proven to be distracted, but so far, that is ok. He is calm and doesn't bark and is pretty sweet.