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Somehow I overlooked taking photos of this piece until today. I haven’t worked on it since May and it’s not quite done. I want to make 2 or 3 more species and pin another 6 or 7 hundred to the panel. Some of the butterflies are 11 stencils, but most of them are 5-8. They are black cotton printmaking paper and cut out by hand with scissors, which works better than die or laser cutting since they are all different shapes and sizes. It’s kind of a prototype and I’ve been using this piece to figure out a lot of things. Eventually I’d like to do some big installations with 20,000-70,000 thousand butterflies, so I’ve been getting my head around how I’m going to do that. I’m trying to make all the butterflies at least a little different, so that’s been a interesting challenge as well. The second to last image has a real swallowtail in it.
Egon is the second anise swallowtail to emerge at the studio, and is named after the artist and Ghostbuster. It’s been really helpful to study these little critters so intimately, and I’ve gotten a few ideas to apply to the next set of butterfly prints.
In one of the pictures, the light is coming from behind and you can see the shadow and pattern of the wing behind it, which I thought would be interesting to try to work into some prints. I’m going to try some prints on vellum, which is a cloudy translucent paper that will allow some light to pass through the paper, and be much more delicate than the black cotton paper I usually use for printing butterflies on.
I installed some butterflies for our grand opening at Faultline on May 12th. It was the first time I pinned them to a wall in any significant amount. I’ve been buying really big pins by the pound, and they make a big difference over the little sewing pins and the super thin insect pins which bend too easy. We are having a closing party July 7th in case you missed the opening.
Got my show for the Rare Bird ready to go the other day. Got a big stack of shadow box frames and have been experimenting with different ways to display them. The Reception for the June Art Walk at the Rare Bird is June 21 6-9pm. Here is a link to the Rare Bird’s June Art Walk page.
One more color to print, which is going to be yellow and red eye spots on the wings. These have turned out really well, I can’t wait to start cutting them out. All the metallic and reflective inks throw the light in different ways depending on the angle, so having a bunch of them with all the wings tilted in different directions will show off all the effects nicely.
I started printing the blue on the butterflies yesterday, but I was a little too tired from working late and getting up early to print the whole run. Things like this I like to do when I am fresh, especially since the blue is so important to the overall look of the print. I’m hoping to get all these prints finished today so I can start cutting them out and getting my piece together for the Faultline Grand Opening May 12th.
I’ve been working in a new way with the butterflies, and it has been way more fun than the previous way of spending days at the computer. This print is almost entirely hand drawn, I just used the computer to assign the colors to specific areas in of the butterfly. Some of the colors of the butterfly overlap by less than 1/100 of an inch, so a computer still comes in handy.
The above drawing is ink on vellum, I made 2 of these for the background to the butterflies and overlapped the images several times with varying colors so all the prints are quite different. Then when I screen print the butterflies on top, all 3300 butterflies will be at least slightly different. Usually the challenge with printmaking is making all the prints the same, so making them all different is a whole new problem, especially in quantity.
One thing that is interesting to me is the colors shift according to the angle of the light, and colors printed on top of other colors have more surface sheen, you can tell there is another layer underneath, even if the top color is opaque. I’ve always been fascinated by this phenomenon, and the butterflies work really well at showing this off since I’m going to cut out each butterfly and tilt the wings at different angles to catch the light.
I had a little studio visit from this beautiful Red Admiral (Vanessa atlanta) butterfly. I snapped a few pictures until it started to freak out and I put it outside. It was a nice little omen if you will, since I am in the middle of a big rush to get all my new butterflies ready for the show at Faultline May 10 & 12. The studio is an industrial area, so it was little surprising, but we are close to sloughs and there must be some nettle out their nearby. I might plant some nettles in my backyard, since this is what the caterpillars eat.