Crooked Creek Questionmark (oil on canvas 12 x 16 in.) Sold
the white comma on its hind wing gives it away as a Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) - the first record of this species in this Protected Natural Area.
I moved a little and the butterfly took off. It's a very fast insect - darting over the creek and around birch boughs. I watched it, tracking it dizzily for a while until it settled on a stone, and I tried to approach it to see if I could collect it to paint. It was very shy, as has been my experience with all butterflies. Then I got my camera and began to follow it around, taking pictures and trying to get closer.
It seemed that our relationship as potential predator-prey began to change at one point - when I backed away and crouched down to get a lateral shot. The butterfly seemed to pose for me! Soon I found that I could get as close as I liked, and actually had my fill of reference photos - some nice macro shots! It returned frequently to lap up juices from a split in the shell of a marine crab leg, one of several tossed aside by visitors to the creek. But then I remembered that I wanted to do an oil of the creek, so I went to retrieve my paints and easel from back towards the bridge. The butterfly flirted with me then, swooping around in front of me and nearly bumped me!
As I sat to paint the rocks and water, a Bumblebee alighted on one of my paintbrushes.
I have always wanted to paint insects on a large scale, and this is the first time I've followed through! A near-reflection of itself in a different pose seemed a good way to show both the inner and outer wing surfaces of the same butterfly. Since this painting came next in chronological sequence, I've delayed posting the others I have done at the Bio-blitz since I took the photos of my Question Mark. Since I've been painting it from the photos, I could drop it while I began and finished other more paintings. Two of these are "waiting in the wings" to be posted.
This painting is now in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum.