The Future Butterfly (Caterpillar) Series

Updated: Jun 16

Three Caterpillar pieces, three variations on a theme, three totally different results.

When I started on my caterpillar series I had no idea how to create what I wanted to make or how it would turn out. I was still new to the world of bead mosaics and to achieving my desired results. As a consequence, I decided to explore the beaded world by doing multiple variations on a piece, allowing for natural growth and exploration to occur. It just so happened that this idea started with the caterpillar series.

The painting: The Caterpillar that started it all.

The inspiration for the Future Butterfly series arose from a challenge I set myself. In 2020, early in the pandemic, I decided to stop trying to replicate the photos I had taken and instead view the photo as a stepping stone to an image or design that was uniquely my own. The Caterpillar painting on the right was the first time I achieved this and as a result I wanted it to be among one of the earliest pieces I completed.

"Future Butterfly I" (Version 1): The Abstract Caterpillar

When I started "Future Butterfly I" I could not conceptualize how it would turn out. I had previously painted the piece and was hoping to recreate that painting drop for drop with beads. I thought that using different colors of beads would create a natural shading effect similar to paint and lined the beads up from lightest to darkest! But the beads did something interesting all on their own that I loved. The texture and finish of the beads, created a totally different color effect when combined together, some areas seemed darker when beaded, others seemed lighter. The effect was nothing like my painting and yet something incredibly special. The caterpillar seemed alive and as if it was crawling with purpose over that leaf.

"Future Butterfly II" (Version 2): An exploration in shading and light

The different results between the beads and the painting made me want to explore further. How would the beads look if I focused on using them for shading only? I grabbed my bead palette, and said what would I use if I was painting with beads. I chose bead colors and finishes that I felt would enable a perfect blend of colors to give the right shades. Imagine my delight when I discovered that my color choices also added another dimension, light. By picking the shades of beads I created a piece that had dimensionality and light associated with it.

"Future Butterfly III" (Version 3): Color

Yet something was missing. I wanted to add the color red to the piece. All through version 2 I was thinking I need to add red, I wonder how this will look with red. And so I did. On this the final version, I decided to forget shading, forget light and focus only on color. I picked beads, regardless of finish and texture, that gave me the color I desired. And I worked on blending those colors in so that the transitions would appear seamless. The results astounded me. I love this piece and see in it a long progression of learning at each step to arrive here. Who knew when I took the original photo that this would be the end result, that shading, light and color would all arrive at the same location and jump off the page.

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