a journal of my creative efforts, past and present

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Location: Berkeley, California, United States

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Emerging Butterfly

This is the first painting of a series that I plan on doing of insects and botanicals. It is also my first completed oil painting in over 8 years. I've been primarily focusing on photography, film and other painting mediums but I love the richness of oils so I decided to go for it. The other reason why it's been so long is that I tend to get frustrated with my skill level and destroy the canvas before it is even completed. As I've told a few friends, this guy is just happy to be in one piece!

The image source for this painting is a photograph by A van den Nieuwenhuizen that I found in an old textbook titled "How Insects Live" published by Phaidon Press Ltd. 1976. The painting diverges in several ways from the true appearance of this insect but the general body position and the cocoon are very much the same. I got a little fanciful about halfway through and gave him some animal-like traits such as the long hair on his body and the eyes, both of which resemble that of a mammal more than an insect. I also more or less made up the ground cover area and the pink blossom branch on the upper right corner. The original photo does include a pink blossom branch but it looks entirely different than this one here. I wanted to go for a more patterned, illuminated manuscript type of look with the branch. I have always loved the borders of illuminated manuscripts with their beautiful decorative patterns of florals and butterflies so those types of illustrations are part of the inspiration for this series - that and the insects themselves!

For the future, obtaining source images of exotic and interesting looking insects will be a challenge though. Last weekend, I was talking about this to a painter who works with undersea imagery. She uses a combination of specimens from the Natural History Museum as well as photos and film footage from friends and colleagues who have donated images to her. She also recommended UC Berkeley. Apparently, they have an extensive collection of insects there. I will have to check that out soon. If any of my blog readers are interested in donating one of their original photographs to be used as an image source for one of these paintings, please write to me at Thank you!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool. I love the pink flowers.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ach! Michael beat me to the "very cool," which it is. You never know what you might find scrounging through old book bins. Some old biology text book, or national geographic mag.

I'm surprised how well this photo captured your painting. The colors are very striking (although it's always better to see the real thing!)

2:47 PM  
Blogger K said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Tina Banda said...

hi guys! yeah, I decided it was worth it to get a more professional scan by a person that Michael works with. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, especially since my attempts at capturing it with the simple digital camera were less than satisfactory. I was able to get the image down but it had an overall blue cast. this scan is much closer to how it really looks although even that has some variations in tone if you compare the actual painting to this image. the person who did the scan also made one printout and that looks even better than the image here. I would like to do some printouts on watercolor paper eventually and see how it translates to that.

note: I deleted the comment above because I was signed in under my Google work account. d'oh!

5:22 PM  
Blogger Cayenne Linke said...

He's just wonderful! His eye continues to draw me in...the intensity and clarity become my focal point.

But I DO love the flowers, too, and can see a whole painting of these, if you were so inclined)...

(and erwak's Nat Geo idea is a great one. I'll put it on my to do list to flip through my old ones to see if I can find anything)

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's wondrous, Tas. You have a delicacy and precision in your painting that I look forward to seeing more of. Full of whimsy but still seems to be trembling with life- I expect him to turn his head and blink at me. Nicely done.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Tina Banda said...

Cayenne and Katie, thank you both for stopping by and viewing my bug. everyone's comments here are so encouraging. it makes me feel like I'm not completely crazy in pursuing this subject :)

8:08 PM  

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