Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I'm in the mood to blog something, but don't have anything relevant to blog about, so I went looking through some of my old creative works and came across one of my favorite things I've ever created.

I like to draw and do design work, but it's not a total passion for me. But every once in awhile, I get inspired and become totally obsessed with getting an image out of my head and onto paper or canvas or whatever. "Haven" is one of those inspirations that turned into an obsession.

As is usual with my artwork, my best stuff is stuff that I did for someone else, either as a gift, or as a challenge ("What? YOU do artwork? Yeah, right...")

This one is called "Haven" and was done for a friend of mine's 21st birthday. Much earlier, she had mentioned that if I ever drew anything for her that she wanted it to be a Gothic Butterfly, whatever that conjured up in my imagination. Her name is Vanessa, which means butterfly, and her motif for everything she had was a butterfly, so it all fits.

Anyway, a few weeks before her 21st birthday, I remembered the challenge/request and it started percolating in the back of my mind. I did a dozen or so sketches and rough versions of a stone butterfly, using charcoal, pencil crayon, etc. Nothing looked right. I could see it in my head, but it just wasn't happening. I knew the angle had to be extreme, right above the butterfly looking down on it. In my mind, I saw a butterfly gargoyle on the side of a Gothic building. I even went and checked out a bunch of gargoyle and architecture books from the library. But it wasn't much help. Nothing worked.

Finally, I came upon the idea of using a 3D program to help me visualize what I was seeing, since you can build your model in 3D, then move your camera anywhere you want to achieve the angle you want. It was surprisingly easy to build the model and find a suitable stone texture, and after an hour or so of fiddling with the angle, I finally came across the exact image I saw in my head.

I was all set to print it out to use just as a reference for drawing it when I realized that this image was EXACTLY the way I wanted it. In attempting to draw it, I'd never even come close. So that's when I decided to compose the whole picture in Photoshop. I exported the Stone Butterfly in high resolution, then proceeded to build the rest of the image in Photoshop.

I knew from the beginning that there would be a real butterfly perched on the broken antenna of this seemingly ancient stone butterfly statue. It took me a couple of days of experimenting to get the butterfly like I wanted it. Her favorite color is green, so I knew the butterfly would have to be green. I ended up using her actual eyes as the shape on the wings. And very tiny on each wing (too tiny to see on this picture) is written "Jesus" and "Lord" in what looks to be just spots unless you really look closely.

So I put one butterfly on the stone statue, and it looked okay, but maybe a bit too lonely. So started putting a whole bunch of them resting on the butterfly. And then a bunch more flying up this vast tunnel or expanse or whatever it is that this stone butterfly is hovering at the top of. It just seemed fitting that all of these butterflies would make this vast journey just to come rest on this statue. It a way, it seemed like a fitting metaphor for the life of a Christian. To seek haven from the world in Jesus. Ergo, the title "Haven".

Since Vanessa and her family were the primary people responsible for my coming to Christ, it seemed especially appropriate that this work of art ultimately have a Christian meaning to it.

So I printed it out on my giganto printer I had back in the day (about nine years ago now) had it matted and framed and gave it go her just in time for her birthday. And because I did it all digitally, I still have a perfect copy of it that I intend to print out for myself in the near future on as high a quality stock as I can afford.

I've probably got four or five such works that fall into this category of inspired obsession, because when I look at them, I realize that they are far beyond what I am artistically capable of 99% of the rest of the time. I'll try to scan them or take pictures of them for posterity and when I do, I'll post them here.

Anyone have a challenge to inspire me to do another work?

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