God, the Ultimate Artist/Naturalist

Remember the mysterious 7-mile wide blob on Denver’s weather radar in the fall of 2018 that began this nature series? It turned out to be painted lady butterflies invading Colorado in never-before-seen numbers. That post led to my summer-long series about artist/naturalists and suggestions for how to study nature in our own neighborhoods.

Now let’s come back to the butterflies and the ultimate artist/naturalist—God. With unbelievable creativity, wisdom, and power, He created all that exists and continues to uphold and preserve His creation. He designed painted lady butterflies with their intricate patterns of orange and black and gave them the instinct to head south when autumn winds blow.

Among several posters I always kept up in my classroom was one of a little boy holding a fuzzy yellow duckling and gazing intently at it. The Bible verse said, “Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” Job 37:14

That’s just what Molly and I have been doing. We stood still to watch hundreds of butterflies fluttering on the same bush and lone bumblebees gathering nectar on a single flower. We saw red-winged blackbirds land on thin cattails, hardly bending them, and goldfinches plucking seeds from thistle flowers without getting hurt.

In early summer I considered that both swallows and red-winged blackbirds eat insects, but swallows soar through the air to catch flying insects, while red-winged blackbirds hop along the ground to find their insect lunches. God has truly provided for all the birds of the air. Matt. 6: 26

Now as summer fades, I consider the golden sunflowers God has spread across every field and along every roadside, and am reminded of how God clothes the lilies of the field in splendor. Matt 26:28-29

All summer I’ve considered how perfectly these wondrous works point to our Creator God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

God is also the ultimate author/teacher, and His Word clearly shows us that our Creator God is also our loving Heavenly Father, who cares for our daily needs and especially sent His Son to die for us so we may become new creatures in Christ, (2 Cor. 5:17) loving God and trying to live our lives for Him.

God knows that we need concrete pictures to learn spiritual lessons (just look at the lowly things Jesus used in His parables!)

So it’s not at all strange for Christian writers and artists to use the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly to illustrate the new creatures we become in Christ.When the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart to believe in Christ, we are newly dressed in Christ’s righteousness, and just as butterflies receive new compound eyes that see much better than caterpillar eyes, our eyes are opened to see the beauty of Christ and to want to know Him and live for Him more and more.

Through science we can now see just how apt an illustration metamorphosis is. The latest research shows that the changes are even more profound than once thought. Inside its pupa the parts of the caterpillar actually liquefy and rearrange to become a butterfly.

So I think we can see that this transformation of the butterfly not only helps us appreciate what God does initially to change us, but is also a wonderful illustration of what will happen when Christ returns for His people. As Paul explains,

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must cloth itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:  “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” I Cor. 15:51-54

In that day the miracle of people being transformed from the perishable to the imperishable will way, way outdo even the marvel of butterfly metamorphosis, and when people from every tribe and nation are caught up in the air with their changed bodies to meet Christ and live with Him forever, that will outnumber the greatest butterfly migrations ever!   

Hallelujah, What a Savior!!

 

 

 

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I’m taking a short break to finish up a proposal for a book of devotions and activities for families, but be sure to sign up to receive these posts so you don’t miss out on the next art subject  —  What’s up with Claude Monet and all those paintings of haystacks and cathedrals??

Molly’s taking a break, too, to play with her favorite ball!

 

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Writing Poems about Nature

In my posts this summer, I’ve introduced or reminded you of several naturalists:

 

Maria Sibylla Merian and Titian Ramsay Peale II whose rediscovered nature illustrations have perhaps inspired you to go exploring with a sketchbook in hand.

Beatrix Potter, whose children’s books are familiar to us all, but perhaps not her lifelong interest in nature, and who may be inspiring you to write stories about the creatures you’ve seen and studied this summer.

All three of these naturalists studied plants and creatures right where they lived.

And so did poet, Aileen Fisher (1906-2002),  who wrote books of poetry for children, mostly about the nature all around us. Fisher grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, received a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and received many awards for her poetry. Eventually she settled in Colorado.

You can find some of her books at libraries, and lots of them are available from second hand suppliers through Amazon. Fisher’s poetry is in many anthologies, and some of her books have been re-released in recent years with new illustrations.

Here’s a poem by Aileen Fisher from her book, Out in the Dark and Daylight, published in 1980.

20180614_095016Bumblebee

I sat as still

as a playing-dead possum

and watched a bee

on a clover blossom,

Watched him poking

his long thin tongue

into the blossoms

pink and young,

Heard him bumble

and sort of sneeze

as pollen stuck

to his two hind knees.

I held my breath

as the bee buzzed over,

and hoped I didn’t

look sweet as clover.

Can you find two comparisons in the poem?

Yes, “still as a playing-dead possum” and “sweet as clover.” Comparisons help to create pictures for the reader. A comparison of two things using the words like or as is called a simile.

In the same poem are two examples of another type of figurative language. These are words that imitate sounds, such as clunk, thud, boom, cheep. Even the name of this type of word sounds wonderful!  Onomatopoeia.

What 2 words does Fisher use in this poem that imitate sounds? Yes, bumble and buzzed.

Poetry also often rhymes and has some rhythm. Aileen Fisher is a master at both of these. Here’s another poem from the same book.

IM000034Cricket Song

Did you ever see

a cricket’s ears

stick out upon his head?

You certainly didn’t

since they grow

below his knees instead.

It’s good he doesn’t

put stockings on

and cover his knees up tight,

or how could he hear

the songs he sings

night after autumn night?

 

Now it’s your turn to write some nature poems.

Choose a plant, a place, weather, or a creature or two that you’d like to write about

  1. Brainstorm all the ways you’d describe your subject. Include how they look—furry, scaly, feathery, colors, etc. How they move (even plants move as they follow the sun or blow in the wind). Where they live and what that looks like. What they eat and how they catch it. What is dangerous for them. Anything you learned from your research. Remember to think of sounds and smells, and how something might feel
  2. Think of how you could turn some of these descriptive words into rhymes, similes, or onomatopoeia.
  3. If you’re familiar with other forms of figurative language, such as alliteration, metaphors, or personification, you can try those, too, but it’s probably best to stick to just a few types of figurative language in any one poem. And your poem doesn’t even have to rhyme. Lots don’t!
  4. Here are some of my brainstorming thoughts organized into a couple poems. These two poetry forms might help you organize your thoughts also.

Concrete Poem

A concrete poem follows the shape of your subject or an action. Draw your shape on one piece of paper and darken it so it can be seen through another paper. Lay the second sheet over the drawing, and write your poem along those lines. When you remove the paper, you’ll have a poem in the shape you originally drew. Mine follows Molly’s lying-down shape!

 

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Name Poem

In a “name” poem, each letter of your subject, such as sunflower, is used as the beginning letter of each line of your poem.  Each line tells something about the subject.

20180821_100217         SUNFLOWER

Sunshine on my shelf

blUe delft dishes shining

Now filling every field

Fuzzy brown centers

Lining dusty roadsides

gOlden pollen grains raining down20180821_092645

Windblown but still blazing

Everyone snapping photos

biRds feasting on sunflower seeds

SUNFLOWER

I bet you can do a lot better, and I hope you’ll send in a poem so I can post some on this blog.

 

Here’s Molly getting up close with a painted butterfly last autumn. That butterfly didn’t stick around long!!20171003_132816

 

You don’t want to miss the next Picture Lady post, which will help connect our summer nature studies with some thoughts from God’s Word. So be sure to sign up.

For those of you who follow the Picture Lady on Facebook, Facebook is changing many policies, and will no longer automatically post from WordPress. I will continue to do it manually, but you might want to just find and start following Molly and me on WordPress. kathythepicturelady@wordpress.com

 

 

Writing Creatively about Nature

We can divide creative writing into two broad categories – prose (stories) and poetry. This post will give you some ideas for how to write a story.

Don’t miss the answer at the end of this post about why Molly’s hiding. 20170714_150506But no peeking! Because you’d miss some interesting facts about Beatrix Potter and how to use her Tale of Peter Rabbit

Peter_Rabbit_first_edition_1902a

wikimedia commons

to help you write a story.

You’ll also want to learn how Garth Williams, who illustrated the Little House books, struggled with the illustrations for Charlotte’s Web!

Prose

Even if you’ve read The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other books by Beatrix Potter, you may not know that as children, Beatrix and her brother collected all kinds of wild animals to keep as pets. Using paper bags, they smuggled frogs, salamanders, mice, hedgehogs, rabbits, and even a bat in to share their schoolroom.

Beatrix_Potter_and_Kep_in_1915

Beatrix Potter and her dog Kep, wikimedia commons

Beatrix became a talented naturalist and even learned to draw using a microscope. She filled homemade sketchbooks with drawings of animals and plants that she and her brother found on their rambles in the English countryside. Later Beatrix began to sell some of her drawings and watercolors for greeting cards and to illustrate letters she wrote. Peter Rabbit began as a letter for the son of Beatrix’s former governess.

An interesting biography of Beatrix Potter for adults is, Beatrix Potter, A Life in Nature, by Linda Lear.

If you’d like to create stories about some of the creatures you’ve seen on your rambles this summer, read some of Beatrix Potter’s stories—first to enjoy and then as examples to help you learn to write.

Notice that although Beatrix puts clothes on her animals, her illustrations show them true to what they really look like. And aside from their talking, the animals mostly do things within their nature; for example, Peter runs to Mr. McGregor’s garden to eat veggies, and he’s afraid of humans and the cat.

Let’s use the story of Peter Rabbit as an example of how we set up a story in 3 parts.

Beginning 

 

  • Introduce your main characters. In Peter Rabbit there’s Mother Rabbit, Peter, and 3 sisters.
  • Tell where your story takes place.  The rabbit family lives in a burrow
  • Introduce a problem or challenge for your character to survive or solve.  When Mother Rabbit goes out she warns her rabbit children not to go near Mr. McGregor’s garden because Father Rabbit had an accident there and was put in a pie, but Peter ignores her and goes right to the garden.
  • Notice how quickly Potter moves you on to the…

Middle

 

Excitement and tension build as the main character tries to survive or solve their problem. He or she tends to get in more and more trouble as their first efforts fail. As Mr. McGregor chases Peter, the rabbit loses his little jacket and shoes, hides in a watering can, has to sneak by a cat, and gets lost.

A Climax ends the middle of a story and is the point when we’re not sure if our character will make it or not.  

PeterRabbit22

wikimedia commons

 In Peter Rabbit, that’s when Peter finally spies the gate and his way out, but Mr. McGregor sees Peter as he makes his dash for safety. For suspenseful moments, as Peter wriggles under the gate, we don’t know if he will escape or end up in a pie!

Ending

 

All the loose ends are tied up and we see how things turn out for our characters.  Peter gets home, and is safe, Whew!! But he’s put to bed with a dose of chamomile tea, while his sisters have a supper of blackberries and milk.

Now you try:

  • Think of some animal characters you’ve seen this summer
  • Use your own observations and research where and how they live—type of home or nest, type of food and how they find it, etc.
  • Think of some possible problems or dangers they could get into—too little rain, too much rain, predators, living in a dangerous place, etc.
  1. Put your characters in your setting, give them your problem, and have them try to solve it several ways.
  2. Build suspense toward an exciting climax
  3. End by letting your readers know how everyone and everything turns out. 
  4. Have some fun, and illustrate your story from your drawings and and photos!

Two books for older elementary readers and great read alouds for the whole family are:

  1. Rabbit Hill and its sequel, The Tough Winter, by Robert Lawson. Lawson’s 20180811_161418illustrations also show a keen observation of animals and plant life.
  2. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams. As Williams worked on his illustrations, he and White exchanged letters about what Charlotte should look 20180813_132605like, because Williams didn’t want to scare children. White had a particular kind of spider in mind and sent Williams many photos!! So we know they were also concerned to make the animal characters true to life, at least in looks.

All three of these stories have such great messages of family and friendship and love for others. Don’t let your children or grandchildren grow up without them!

Next post will be about poetry, so be sure and sign up for the Picture Lady’s posts.

Oh and here’s the answer to the mystery of why Molly is hiding. No, she’s not camera shy! But I bet you already peeked and know!!

Molly is terrified of thunderstorms!!

Here in Colorado, clouds begin to pop up over the mountains in the morning, and by afternoon many build and billow towards us, bringing rain and thunder and often hail. Molly has learned this pattern and begins to get nervous about noon.

So we got her something to help her feel less anxious. Here she is modeling her new thundershirt.  It seems to help her. Maybe she feels like her mom is holding her tight!!

 

 

 

 

Writing about Nature in a Sketchbook

If you’ve visited my website http://www.kathy-oneill.com then you know that last year I went to western Nebraska to  learn more about cliff swallows. I’d seen them building mud nests all over a hotel in the Texas panhandle. 

With cliff swallow expert Dr. Charles Brown of Tulsa University and his assistant, Wes and I trekked through fields and waded into culverts. Using a flashlight and a dental mirror I got to peer into their mud nests and see their eggs! Dr. Brown has been studying cliff swallows for many years and has learned lots and lots of fascinating stuff about these birds that live together in colonies.  Don’t miss the good news about my trip and research at the end of this post!!!

And look carefully for Molly, too, and make a guess about why she’s hiding!

Before I traveled to Nebraska, I made notes about what I had already seen and heard, asked questions about my observations, and did some initial research.

 

Using these steps you can learn more about the plants and creatures you’ve been observing on your walks:

  1. Stand still and carefully observe, take photos, make drawings
  2. Make written notes about what you see and hear
  3. Ask questions about what you observe
  4. Look in books and safe, reputable online sources to answer your questions

1. Notes

In my last post I suggested you leave some white space around pictures in your sketchbook, because one of the easiest places to write about nature is to make notes in those white spaces. Here are some things to make notes about:

  • Where you were, what the land was like–forest, meadow, seaside, rocky, hilly, etc.
  • What kind of trees or plants you saw
  • What the weather was like
  • The things you saw, heard, smelled
  • The colors of plants or animals you focused on
  • Tell what you think creatures were doing

Here in my new neighborhood in Colorado is a large marsh, and since early spring when they first arrived, I’ve been watching hundreds of red-winged blackbirds. Here are some photos of the marsh and as close as I can get pictures of  the birds.  Because I couldn’t get closeups of the birds I drew one from a nature guide. But you can see my notes all around the drawing about the place and the birds.

2. Questions

Questions help focus your research. As you research you’ll probably think of more. Here are some I had about red-winged blackbirds:

  • Do only the males have the red and yellow shoulder colors?
  • Where did they migrate from or do they live in Colorado year round?
  • What do they eat?
  • Where do they build their nests?
  • What do their nests look like?
  • How many eggs do they lay
  • what do the eggs look like?

3. Research to answer your questions.

  • The nonfiction section of your library is a great place to start. Birds have a whole section, as do insects, mammals, fish, etc., etc!!
  • If you go online, be sure to use safe and reputable websites. For example for my questions about the cliff swallows and now the red-winged blackbirds, I start with the national audubon society’s website.  http://www.audubon.org
  • Use the blank pages of your sketchbook to write the information you find. Make notes about where you found the info

Have fun finding out about lots of interesting creatures or plants. God is so creative, and His world is amazing beyond our wildest imaginations!!

NOW…. my news:   I enjoyed finding out some amazing things about cliff swallows and then wrote a nonfiction article about them. It has been bought by a children’s magazine! I haven’t heard when it’ll be published, so I won’t tell you which one yet, but I’m excited, and I’ll let you know when it comes out!

What can you do with all your new knowledge? write a report, write a fiction story, make an informational poster , write an email or letter to a distant relative telling about your experiences….  For a few ideas, stay tuned for the Picture Lady’s next post. It’ll give you some ideas about how to write creatively about all your observations!

So don’t forget to sign up to receive the Picture Lady’s posts before you go!

AND check out my website http://www.kathy-oneill.com

There you’ll see lots of ways that I can help your class or group in person or by skype learn about and make art!!

And I’d love to hear from you about your summer nature walks and studies!

Finally, can you find Molly in this photo? Comment and tell me why you think she’s hiding.

I’ll tell you why in my next post.

Exploring Nature In Your Own Neighborhood

Are you all ready with a sketchbook

and some nature guides so you can explore nature this summer?  Your own neighborhood is a good place to start!

While we waited for you to get ready  Molly and I walked around our own very ordinary neighborhood and used our five senses to appreciate God’s beauty all around us. We took lots of pictures with my cell phone. Here are a few of those.

20180614_095302

 Here Molly is using her sense of smell on these flowers, while I enjoy the smell of new-mown grass. Don’t miss that God has put the complementary colors violet and yellow right next to each other.

       I picked a dandelion so I could rub its golden yellow onto my hands. Then I blew the seeds of another to dance away on the wind.

We looked up and saw a messy nest with red strands woven in and listened to birds singing nearby.

 We bent down and saw flowers with bees and bumblebees looking for nectar. (We didn’t get too close!)

And delicate wildflowers growing just along the sidewalk!

 We looked and looked some more at the intricate patterns of weeds and

20180614_095121

 peered down this hole but decided to leave its homeowner in peace.

On really hot days we waited until evening to walk so we could feel soft, cool breezes on our faces and enjoy colorful sunsets.

Sometimes we couldn’t get close enough to take a picture.  One day we saw a goldfinch perched on a thistle. Each time it pulled a seed out, bits of thistledown blew away.

Other times things moved too fast for a picture. We watched two trails of ants meet on a sidewalk. They bumped and seemed to exchange greetings, but then hurried on their way.

At those times put the phone or camera away and pause to look and listen as carefully as you can. It takes time to be a good observer.

Before you head out to take pictures or draw, here are some safety tips:

  1. Be sure an adult has approved where you are going
  2. Take along water and use sunscreen
  3. Don’t wade into any water unless an adult is with you and approves
  4. don’t pick flowers from anyone’s yard
  5. Leave wild animals alone for your safety and theirs
  6. Unless an adult is with you, don’t touch or pick wild plants. Some are poisonous

Using Art

Now grab your sketchbook and choose some of these ideas to record your observations:

  • Print out your favorite pictures and tape them in your sketchbook.
  • Arrange them in your book by categories such as trees, insects, flowers,
  • Or arrange plants and creatures with a photo of their habitat
  • Make drawings from your photos or from your nature guides
  • If you can sit and observe a flower, etc. draw it directly into the sketchbook
  • Use crayons, colored pencils etc. to add color to your drawings (If your sketchbook pages are thin, avoid marker and paint)

Using a close up of this wildflower, here are 2 drawing techniques that will help you look and draw accurately.

Gesture drawing, which I showed you in a post about A Young Girl Reading can be a  helpful way to start with nature drawing. It helps you look carefully at the overall object and its way of growing or moving. Here are some examples:

 

 

 Contour drawing on the other hand, helps artist look carefully at details. Like gesture drawing, it’s not meant to be a finished artwork, but to help you look more carefully at your subject. Here are some contour drawings of the same flower.  Look how different these look from gesture drawings.

 

20180715_104911

 

You slow way down for contour drawing. Your eye follows every small detail, and your pencil tries to follow along on your paper. You don’t sketch as in gesture drawing, but move your pencil along as if it is a snail inching along every line. You should spend lots more time looking at the subject than at your paper!

Have fun observing in your neighborhood and arranging photos and making drawings in your sketchbook!

In my next post I’ll give you some ideas for writing about what you see. You can do that right in your sketchbook, so leave some white space around photos and drawings and some blank pages after things you’d like to write about AND be sure and sign up to receive the Picture Lady posts in your inbox!!

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I finally got the children’s book about Maria Sibylla Merian from the library, and it’s really informative about her life and work, and has lots of pictures!20180712_095316

And here’s a great nature guide for children, I was impressed with all its information on animals, insects, birds, wildflowers, trees, etc. , including where to find them.20180712_095400

But I thought, it was way too heavy to carry around. Now thanks to a post by Jean Hall who reviews children’s books on her blog, I’ve discovered that the original chapters are available as separate, more portable, books. Here’s one she reviewed.

https://jeanmatthewhall.com/2018/07/06/picture-book-review-seashells-crabs-and-sea-stars/

Recently I heard about another woman naturalist who battled many obstacles to lead an amazing life and start a stationery business using her linoleum block prints of nature.   Nature’s Friend, The Gwen Frostic Story by Lindsey McDivitt.  Another children’s book, it’s due out this month.

Please comment and let me know what sort of plants and creatures you see in your neighborhood!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artists/Naturalists Maria Sibylla Merian and Titian Ramsay Peale II

Last fall Painted Lady butterflies invaded Colorado.

Their orange and black wings flickered on every bush, and they streamed across roadways in and around traffic. There were so many, that they even showed up in a 7-mile wide blob on the Denver weather radar. No one had ever seen so many in Colorado, and everyone took lots of photos.

Before photography, artists were the ones who helped people learn about the natural world. Some artists/naturalists, such as John James Audubon, are famous (an earlier Picture Lady post tells about his life and work) but most weren’t.

However in the 1700s and 1800s these mostly amateur artists/naturalists were vital parts of expeditions to explore the American West, the Pacific islands, Africa, and South America. Their careful drawings and paintings of birds and plants, mammals and insects astonished people and advanced scientific knowledge of the beauty and variety of God’s creation.

The Artists/Naturalists 

Two artists/naturalists who were especially interested in insects and butterflies have been rediscovered.

Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria_Sibylla_Merian_portrait_colors

Maria Sibylla Merian public domain, wikimedia

(1647-1717), a German woman who lived in the Netherlands, studied the insects of her own region and later traveled with just her daughter for company, to Suriname, then a Dutch colony in South America. For two years she traveled on foot and by canoe through lush tropical rainforests to study insects there, telling about ants that formed rafts to float across water and tarantulas that ate humming birds. The folks at home were fascinated!

 

 

Titian_Ramsay_Peale

Titian Ramsay Peale II public domain, wikimedia

Titian Ramsay Peale II (1799-1885) son of the American artist and naturalist, Charles Willson Peale, (an earlier Picture Lady post tells about the amazing Peale family of artists), was born in Independence Hall where his father’s museum occupied the 2nd floor. He watched while his father prepared and catalogued specimens brought back by Lewis and Clark and helped put together a mastodon skeleton his father helped dig up in New York . Later, as an artist/naturalist, himself, Titian accompanied an expedition to the Rockies.

Titian_Ramsey_Peale's_painting_'Kilauea',_1842

Kilauea, Titian Ramsay Peale II public domain, wikimedia

On a two year expedition around the Pacific islands, Titian painted an eruption of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.

 

Though separated by a century and an ocean, Maria and Titian had a lot in common:

  • They were trained in art by their fathers and other family members
  • They were fascinated by butterflies and moths
  • They raised butterflies and moths in order to observe and draw their life cycles
  • Their work was recognized and appreciated early in their lives, but forgotten later
  • They went on long exploring expeditions
  • Maria’s Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname has been republished, and Titian’s unpublished manuscript Butterflies of North America, which was given to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC after his death and stayed in its rare book collection, has now been published for the first time.
  • One difference: some of Titian’s butterfly specimens are still displayed in double-sided glass boxes he designed at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences

Their Art

Maria and Titian used their observational skills to portray butterflies accurately. They painted butterflies in their own habitats, with host plants and their full life cycle from egg to caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly. Maria was one of the first to do this, and you can see her influence on Audubon and Peale

Maria’s and Titian’s artistic skills enabled them to paint the butterflies in vibrant color and pleasing compositions. Not for them dull rows of specimens. Because of the purpose of showing the butterflies accurately, there is little depth in these illustrations, but the artists have made good use of their up-close space, not crowding things together.

The illustrations are full of different types of line and shape, color and texture, and pattern—all provided by the Lord! Plants are up close and the butterflies look like they could fly off the page.

Merian_Metamorphosis_LX

Maria Sibylla Merian’s work public domain, wikimedia

Maria’s illustrations can be very dramatic, with half eaten fruits and leaves and ants battling spiders. She was definitely part of the Netherlandish vanitas painting tradition, (beautiful still lifes with partly-eaten food, insects, lizards, or other jarring elements to remind viewers of the shortness of life).

Titian’s butterflies are often arranged more lyrically—sometimes seeming to float up in lazy spirals

Automeris_io_Titian_Peale_1833

work by Titian Ramsay Peale II public domain, wikimedia

Books

Remember that it helps to understand art if you know its original purpose. So, although Maria’s and Titian’s work is in museums and private collections, most of it was made to be printed in books for many people to enjoy.

Here are some resources to see more of their beautiful illustrations.

Maria Sibylla Merian

Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, available on Amazon but expensive. Use Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to see more of Maria’s illustrations.

Insects and Flowers: the Art of Maria Sibylla Merian by David Brafman, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008. Lots of up close illustrations through Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.

Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis by Kim Todd, Mariner Books, 2007, available on Amazon, and has “Look Inside” feature.

2 Children’s books about Maria

Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer by Sarah B. Pomeroy, Abrams, 2018, ages 8-12. A biography of Maria with lots of information about her times. I haven’t been able to read the whole book yet so can only say that the excerpts look interesting. One short section does make a point that Maria’s family is Protestant, but only attributes a good work ethic to that.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies, How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman, HMH Books, 2018, ages 10-12. I have a copy of this on reserve at the library, but it’s not available yet. Hopefully by my next post I can tell you more about it.

Titian Ramsay Peale II

20180619_150032

my own photo

The Butterflies of North America, Titian Peale’s Lost Manuscript, Abrams, 2015, available at libraries, but you can see many of its illustrations through Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. The book purposely looks old and the illustrations retain the look of a personal nature journal.

If you borrow it from a library, be sure to look at the section on caterpillars. Not many naturalists paid much attention to caterpillars, but Titian lavished much care on them.

2 Children’s Books about Charles Willson Peale. Titian’s father, Charles, fought in the Revolutionary War and painted many of America’s early leaders. He also started an art and natural science museum in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The whole family, including Titian, helped in the museum.

The Ingenious Mr. Peale: Painter, Patriot, and Man of Science by Janet Wilson, ages 11 and up. I have not read this.

The Joke’s on George, Michael O. Tunnell, George Washington was a friend of the Peales and visited their museum. In passing a trompe l’oeil painting of two of Charles’ sons, Washington bowed to them in greeting.

To view 2 videos by Khan  Academy about the museum and the painting, go to

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-americas/british-colonies

(The Titian in the Staircase painting is an older brother who died. Titian Ramsay Peale II was named for this older brother.)

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I’m going to change up the order of the next posts about this art so you can right away enjoy some artist/naturalist activities over the summer. You don’t have to be a professional scientist to study and learn about the world in your own back yard.

Before the next post, try to find a small to medium size sketchbook that you can carry with you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can decorate its cover.

Nature guides are helpful, too, and available at libraries.

In this series the last post will be the devotion—some thoughts for a summer of observing and learning about the small wonders of God’s creation.

 

Molly is ready to go exploring. Are you?

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(That isn’t a muzzle on Molly. It’s a gentle harness to keep her from pulling on our walks. She can still drink, bark, and even give kisses!)

Be sure to sign up for the next Picture Lady posts for some ideas about observing and drawing nature and suggestions for writing and reading about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking and Writing about Jean Honore Fragonard’s Painting, A Young Girl Reading

I hope you’ve been enjoying the art activities in the last couple posts. Here are some thinking and writing activities to finish our study of A Young Girl Reading.

A Young Girl Reading wikimedia commons

Thinking and Writing about Art

Project 1, Thinking about Fragonard’s Painting

  •    What do you think the young girl is reading?
  •     In the 1700s did most girls learn to read?
  •     Do you like her hair style and her dress?
  •     Do these styles fit where and when the artist lived?  (Paris,  1700s)
  •     Would these styles fit with our time for any activities or not?
  •     Who do you think Fragonard made this painting for?
  •     Where do you think it would have hung? (remember, it didn’t always hang in a museum!!)

How could you update this painting’s subject to today’s world?

  •    What would the young girl be wearing?
  •    What would her hair look like?
  •    What else could she be holding to read?
  •     Where else might she be?

Project 2, Writing about Fragonard’s Painting

    Write a story as if you are this young girl. Here are some sentences to get you started:

 Bonjour, my name is______________________. I live in ________________________.  Monsieur

 

Fragonard painted this picture of me for_____________________________. I enjoy reading

 

about_____________________________. I have a pet_________________, and its name

 

is___________________.  My friends and I like to___________________________.

 

Project 3, Writing about You

 Writing or Drawing

     Write about or draw a picture of your favorite spot telling or showing why it’s special. Is it quiet or noisy? Are you alone or with friends? What do you do there—read, play games, watch TV, daydream?

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 I hope you’ll have fun and let me know in the comments how you enjoyed these project. 

I have a couple writing deadlines coming up in May, so I need to take a short break to finish these, but I plan to be back in June with a whole new artwork to study and enjoy with various activities . 20170724_203723

Molly’s resting up to get ready, so you get ready, too! Sign up to receive these posts by email.

 And don’t forget to visit my website to see the art workshops and other types of presentations I’m available to do! See the details at:      www.kathy-oneill.com