When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk (easel), and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page (canvas). Just to make sure the job is done I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing — all the color, the light and movement — is gone. What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That’s my book (painting).
Coincidentally, I had chosen the same metaphor last week when explaining to a friend that some images so inhabit my brain that I am compelled to snatch them out of the air in order to share them. I have come to understand that the glorious primary experience of that butterfly - the striking face, that moment in the woods, that glowing still life of apples on the counter — is simply ineffable. Its beauty is artless. The best an artist can do is to convey some small but true aspect of that loveliness. In this painting of poppies, the butterfly being grabbed out of the air was the deep vibrancy of the flowers set against the swirling grey-greens of the foliage.
Once a painting is finished, it is no longer mine; its ownership has transferred to anyone who completes the transaction by simply loving it too.