Butterfly studies

January 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

I was lucky to get to do some sketching, colour and motion research at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens last week. It’s a pretty magical place, hot and steamy full of tropical plants, parrots squawking, iguanas, tortoises and even flamingos (all rescued or adopted). I got there a little early and two of staff members Kurtis and Justin were releasing about 300 butterflies that had recently hatched.
There is a room where you can watch the butterflies emerge from chrysalises that are hot glued in rows to strips of painters tape in pretty jewel-like rows. (Above & Below White Tree Nymph) I hope to do a more in depth study of the hatching process, it’s pretty amazing to watch.
The next thing you see is a table covered with slices of orange and bananas. Staff members take turns coming up with cool fruit designs, and the effect is striking and attractive to a number of butterflies that feed only on fermenting fruit juices. It’s also a great spot to observe and sketch the butterflies because they’ll sit still for long periods of time. (Below: Brown Clipper on an orange slice)


Here are a few more butterflies that are common at the Gardens. The one with the eyes in the middle is called a “Blue Morpho” and the inside of its wings are a vibrant iridescent blue. The one below was sketched from a photo I took from behind a group doing a tour. She didn’t know she had a little friend on her shoulder, probably having a rest after taking its first flight.
Here are a few more studies. Lots of colour ideas to keep me going for the rest of the winter (From the top Plain Tiger, Blue Morpho, Julia, Blue Frosted Banner, Green Moss Banner).
plain_tigerWEBblue_morphoWEBjulia_butterflyWEB blue_frosted_bannerWEB   green_moss_peacockWEB

Royal BC Museum Residency: The Botany Collection

November 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last week as part of the Royal BC Museum Artist Residency we got to go behind the scenes and explore the Botany Collection. They house over 215,000 specimens, made up primarily of native and introduced plant species found in British Columbia. Most are gathered, pressed, and affixed to cardstock that is marked with collection data for future reference. These pages are stacked in folders, bagged, and stored in lockers. The earliest specimen in Botany was lichen, collected in 1889.

Here’s a sketch I did of some pressed native succulents that collection manager Erica Wheeler was nice enough to pull out for me. Got to use their “official” stamp too – almost looks like the real deal. AVD_crassulaceae_sketchLE

Museum volunteer Daniela Toriola was helping prepare some new specimen sheets on the day we visited. She carefully arranged the pressed plants, gluing them onto the page with assorted metal weights to hold them down until they dried. Daniela noted that she always tries to make the presentation as beautiful as possible. It is obvious from our visits to the different collections so far that there is a lot of creativity going on behind the scenes. Whether its taxidermy, scientific drawings or how sea creatures are placed in a jar, there’s been care taken to make things visually appealing. These people take pride in their work, knowing that the collections will be looked upon for years to come.
Drawing in Botany was fun. I got my “spill safe” ink and water sketching set up going, perfect for capturing the transparency of leaves and petals, and the dark curly roots. I used a couple drops of water to wet my brush, and introduced ink with my brush pen (similar to how I was sketching on the road this summer). Here are drawings of a Lilaicaee Zygadenus, and Camassia or “Camas” – a native plant with edible bulbs found in western Canada and the US.

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