Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July's Instant Garden: Monarchs & Milkweed

Hello my friends — if you came here looking for our Tuesday Hues to Use color challenge, we’ll have it back here next week with a special guest host, one of our dear customers whose work we just love! But today, we’re introducing an all-new digital stamp set, and this image is one you may be familiar with if you follow me on Instagram @marcellahawley.

This spring, I was honored to be asked to create the programs for my son Finn’s grade school graduation. While pondering what kind of imagery I wanted to use, I was sent the theme for the ceremony by the school, and it was these wonderful lyrics from the song Everything is Everything by Lauryn Hill:
Everything is everything
What is meant to be, will be
After winter, must come spring
Change, it comes eventually
Isn’t that perfect for a graduation? (The children all learned the song in chorus and sang it at the ceremony — I cried.)

I have long admired the flower plantings that surround our school — all planted by parent and student volunteers. Earlier in the year, I captured a bevy of Monarch caterpillars crawling among the Milkweed leaves and seed pods, and it made me so excited to know we were contributing to the Monarch population!

This thought stuck with me... metamorphosis. Students moving to a new phase in their lives and becoming the people they are going to be. I started sketching....

My idea was to illustrate all the phases of Monarch development (caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly), and the phases of the plant on which the Monarch relies to lay its eggs — Milkweed (Asclepius). From the wonderful fall seed pods and their wispy, fluffy seeds, through buds and flowering, and back to the development of fresh green seed pods.

I sketched out the image completely and then went outside to paint it in my garden. I used watercolor and gouache paints and my trusty plastic paint palette that I’ve had since the early 90s.

I especially had fun working on the wings of the butterflies! 

All finished! Then I lettered the quote from Everything is Everything with my tiny paint brush. I scanned everything in to the computer, and created this final product:

I am proud to say that it was well received, and I was very pleased with how the program turned out! (I also hand painted every graduate’s name on the inside, which I also did when Lulu graduated three years before Finn.) I knew I wanted to revisit the original sketch and ink it up at some point for you all. Fortunately, I saved a high resolution scan of the pencil phase of my drawing, so I was able to do just that!

And now, YOU can color up this image, and the song lyrics, to create your own tableau of change. Here is Monarchs and Milkweed! It comes with a larger-scale image (6" across) that you can enlarge further or reduce, as usual, using a photo editing program on your computer. I’ve included a lighter grey image for use in no-line coloring, as well!

One of the neat things about Milkweed is that there are many varieties. I illustrated Asclepias tuberosa, which is orange. But there are LOTS of other ones, from white through yellow, orange, pink, purple. I grow three types in my garden to try to attract the Monarchs:

In my garden: Asclepias curassavica (Mexican Milkweed), A. incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) , and A. tuberosa (Butterfly Weed, Milkweed)
One of the neat things about this illustration, you can crop in to it and still have a very striking image, see what our Instant Gardener, Nancy Sheads created using the top right portion and an incredible layered background. What a vivid card bursting with life!

Let’s go see more of Nancy’s card, along with a pretty work in progress by Barbara Walker!

I hope you will give Monarchs and Milkweed a try — it truly is fun to work on, and when paired with the lyrics, I think is quite an encouraging message to anyone going through transition.

Come back tomorrow to begin the tour of previews for our NEW clear stamp release, the Abundance Collection. Really excited to share everything with you — I am chomping at the bit!!


Ann said...

Beautiful work, lovely digi and card.

Robyn Oliver said...

You are an amazing artist Marcella, I absolutely love your work, just beautiful

Berina RGA said...

Wow!! Such a beautiful image. i loved your in-progress pics on Instagram. So so pretty. Your coloring is stunning! YOu are so talented!

Heidi Stamps said...

That is absolutely amazing! WOW!