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I finished my series of drawings and paintings of the bloodroot, and have been cogitating on what subject to choose next. Wild strawberries for June, maybe? But the tiger swallowtail butterflies have been flitting all over the place recently, and to me they say "June" better than anything. Every time I see one go by, my heart follows it.
They love the lilacs along our driveway. Last year I got some good photos of the swallowtails on the lilacs. And someone gave me a dead one they found, so I put it in the museum collection. But I was thinking that I really needed to see a live one up close in order to be able to paint them. I finally got my chance a couple of days ago.
I was sitting outside on the porch steps, and a gorgeous male tiger landed just a few feet away from me. I don't have a butterfly net. I didn't want to hurt him. So I went in the house and got a large glass bowl from the kitchen. I had to stalk him for a while, and stand very still, leaning over with the bowl upside down in my hands for what seemed like ages. But finally he cooperated and landed right at my feet. I eased the bowl over him before he knew what was happening, slid a piece of masonite under him, and had a captive tiger to study!
I spent about 45 minutes admiring him, photographing him, and watching him. Then I released him to go about his business. He sat for a few minutes more while I took a few more photos, and then was on his way, with my effusive thanks.
Now I am happily drawing tiger swallowtails in my study book. My museum specimen is a female, so I can include both sexes. Today I started a watercolor of a single swallowtail. I am also working on the layout for a painting of the swallowtail on the lilacs, from one of my photos. You can look forward to more about tigers as I progress.
The image here is of my captive tiger on the table on the porch.