For me and others, butterflies are a symbol of both hope and transformation. At this time, perhaps we are being invited to transform something in ourselves that hasn’t been working for a very long time. This is such an individual thing but it can make a collective difference.
One thing that I learned about the butterfly a few years ago. The butterfly can remain in the cocoon and won’t emerge until the conditions are right. So the butterfly stays in a state of suspension for an indeterminate period of time. My daughter had a direct experience of this. She had moved, for one reason or another, to several apartments over the course of a few years. Each time she unpacked, she placed a little cocoon that she’d been carrying with her on the mantelpiece. One morning, she got up and above the mantelpiece was a beautiful, fully formed swallowtail butterfly–the cocoon broken open.
According to Jeremy Hemberger, “Most butterflies and moths stay inside of their chrysalis or cocoon for between five to 21 days. If they’re in really harsh places like deserts, some will stay in there for up to three years waiting for rain or good conditions. The environment needs to be ideal for them to come out, feed on plants and lay eggs.”
This painting evolved from an online class. Sometimes, you have an intention for your painting…I want to paint a butterfly. Then the unfolding happens. In that single moment in time, that butterfly painting expresses something inside of me that wants to be seen by me…and perhaps recognized by another.
It seems that right now we are asked to be in a holding pattern. We are living then in a suspended state…this isn’t easy, is it? We are so action-oriented, busy, busy. And now, we wait until conditions are right before we emerge once again.
What can you do for yourself to foster those right conditions?
Your Own Butterfly
On an 8×10″ piece of watercolor paper (140 lb. weight), drip and spray acrylic inks or dab paints to cover the paper (what you paint on is called your substrate). Choose either cool colors or warm colors for this first layer. Some cool colors are blue, green and purple and the warm colors are yellow, red and orange. Let the first layer dry and then come back in with the opposite colors to make designs of your choice. Let that layer dry. Finally, add dabs of white in strategic places across the substrate. Once that is dry, draw a butterfly shape in the center. You can use white charcoal or white colored pencil to draw the outline of the butterfly. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t forget the body in the center.
Choose a favorite color and paint the background around the butterfly shape. You can let some of the background peek through outside of the butterfly. You can use a more transparent paint so that the under layers are visible yet don’t compete with the central butterfly. Look at an image of a butterfly noting the symmetry on each side. Design your butterfly. You can use markers for this. Don’t strive for perfection. Get lost in the creative process. Your butterfly is unique to you.