"Anise Swallowtail Butterfly"
Linocut with watercolor
I usually seek out the subjects of my drawings and prints, but this one found me. A couple of months ago, I was visiting Alcatraz Island with my daughter and her fiancé. It's my favorite tourist-y thing to do in San Francisco: Along with a tour that, after all these years, I still find fascinating, you get a great ferry ride out, gorgeous plants and birds, and perfect views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge from the middle of the Bay.
While we were waiting for a return ferry (you can stay out there as long as you like until the last ferry) a group of kids behind us started getting all excited and were trying to get my attention: "There's a butterfly on your shoulder! It's right on your shoulder!" Sure enough, there was—a beautiful swallowtail. One of the kids could hardly take a breath: "Take a picture! Take a picture! And post it on social media and say, 'This is me and my pet butterfly!'" This one's for you, precocious kid behind me in line.
I couldn't let that beautiful image go, so I decided to do a linocut. But I didn't plan very well, and learned some lessons. I should've (and still could, I guess) printed the body color under it first. With these b/w prints, I can hand-color with colored pencil or, if I use non-waterbased ink, I can add water color (see above). I've tried both, sampling my new jar of black Akua soy-based ink, and some new Japanese paper. I also should have done this on un-mounted linoleum, so I could've cut away all if the blank area around the butterfly. I had to make a mask, or frisket, to keep those areas from showing traces on the print.
It's such a beautiful creature, colored or not!