When Dragons Fly: The Symbolism of Dragonflies

Dragonflies. Colorful, delicate, fierce creatures. I love seeing them around my backyard. I mentioned in a prior post that I had one that used to watch me and appear to intently listen to my attempt at conversation with it.

As with many other creatures, different cultures have given the dragonfly attributes and characteristics that are symbolic with much meaning. Attributes and characteristics you won’t find in any natural science books.

The iridescence of it’s body and wings as it moves in the light causes changes to it’s colors. This ability to change and reflect the light is seen as showing us we have the ability to be adaptable, creative, and inspired. We have it within ourselves to end our self doubt and to open up to new thoughts, new ideas, new possibilities. To let ourselves shine.

In most parts of the world, dragonflies represent transformation, the ability to change one’s self. They are seen as a symbol of maturity of the mind and emotions. The dragonfly reminds us that age and wisdom give us the ability to transform. To be better.

In some Native American cultures, dragonflies have long been seen as a symbol of spring, rebirth, and renewal. They were also portrayed as the keeper of dreams to remind us, through our dreams, that we have the power within ourselves to achieve our goals. To dream of one is also interpreted to mean that change is coming.

To the ancient Celts, dragonflies were truly magical beings. To have one cross your path was a reminder to live life to the fullest, overcome fear, and let the light transform you.

The next time you encounter a dragonfly, maybe you will see more than just a “mosquito-eater”. Let it remind you that you have the power to change what might need to be changed. To see yourself in a new, positive light.

See the dragonfly, be the dragonfly. (Ok, that was corny. Bye.)

When Dragons Fly: The Magic of Dragonflies

Dragons have been a subject (or background) for a lot of fabulous artwork around the world for centuries. The image of one, in all types of forms, has a huge fanbase. I must admit, there is something awesome about how they are often portrayed.

Dragons may not exist, but dragonflies do. Thank goodness they’re small. A gigantic, dragon sized one, would scare the bejeezus out of me. They might not breath fire, but their mouths are killing machines… mostly to mosquitoes and biting flies. (Thank goodness.)

Oil and cold wax original painting

Being what they are, the size they are, and all the lovely colors they come in, I have a great affection for dragonflies. The delicate, intricately veined, often shimmery wings of these magnificent creatures are a work of art in themselves.

Last summer, one in particular loved to sit on the plant hanger and watch me. I would talk to it and, like a dog, it would tilt it’s head from side to side as I talked. I like to believe it was trying to understand what I was communicating and not sizing up it’s chances of getting a piece of me.

Like dragons, these little garden visitor “flying dragons” are a popular subject for artists, me included. Like artworks of dragons, artists have been capturing the beauty of dragonflies in many different forms from realistic to abstract from countries all around the world. For a very long time. Google dragonfly art and you’ll see what I mean.

I look forward to seeing them return to the backyard.

Magic of the Moon: Moon Glow

Once again, I was back to my favorite oils, cold wax, and palette knives. I sort of based Moon Glow on a previous painting that had sold back in June. Though I made several changes to the scene, the colors used are pretty much the same as the earlier painting. I don’t know about you, but I love pthalo blue for night scenes.

I have to say… I really like how this one turned out. If I were a wolf, I would probably live around here so I could howl at the moon every night. Fauna, flora, people, (even mythical creatures) are affected by the magic of the moon. Artists and authors often paint and write with the moon as part of the visual or verbal story.

So, what’s the story here?

As the viewer, you get to decide. Are you out on a night hike and discover the magic of the moon on the water? Are you dreaming of a moonlight encounter? Are you looking through the eyes of a bird flying through the night sky? Make it your story.

For me, as it developed, I see myself standing on the side of a small hill, experiencing the calming effect of a moonlit sky on the landscape below. I am bathing in the moon’s glow. I am feeling at peace with my surroundings. In the distance, I hear an owl calling out.

The magic of the moon is calling… can you hear it?

Magic of the Moon: Canyon Moon

Well, here we go again. I had been on a moon kick… sort of still am… because moons are magical! I will always find time to paint something with a moon in it.

So…. this painting got it’s start when I met up with some artistic friends. I had brought some slow drying acrylics (Golden, if you’re curious) because I didn’t want to mess with wax and oils that morning. Anyway, I got to thinking about 1) some images I had seen of canyons and towering rock formations as well as 2) using a touch of reds in cloud paintings which I had seen another painter do to their clouds. So…. I decided to see what I could come up with using a limited palette and (eek!) brushes. It was just playtime but I kind of liked the final result which happened several days later when I continued to play with it some more.

Magic of the Moon: Canyon Moon is how I envisioned how it might appear if I was standing somewhere at the base of a canyon looking up at the moon shining down. There are probably hundreds of paintings based on this premise or actual photos/renditions of a real place. Anyway… since I wanted to have some red in the sky, I painted the canyon walls using both reds and blues. The base of the canyon looked too empty, so after some debate with myself, (water? trees? water and trees? campsite?) I decided to just add the trees.

I like to imagine that somewhere in those trees, a wolf is getting ready to emerge and sing his night song. His own tribute to the magic of the moon.

The Magic of the Moon: Moon Flight

The second painting in The Magic of the Moon series (I guess it’s a series… or not) took me back to the mediums and technique I most love. Oils, cold wax, and palette knives.

Moon Flight is a painting purely from the imagination. All I knew for sure was that I wanted a moon, clouds, and water. As it evolved, I let the perceived magic of the moon illuminate the land, the sky, and bathe the water with bright light. The birds were added when I realized there should be more to this story. It wasn’t just about the moon. There needed to be a second subject. Birds. Birds on their way to a secure place to settle down for the night. Nature in harmony. I lowered the sky and added the limbs in the foreground.

Now my moon had a purpose other than just reflecting light to a sleeping landscape. It was the nightlight in the sky providing a safer passage to the creatures of the day as they made their way through the dark.

I really enjoyed painting this one and love that it found a home with a couple who enjoyed it as well. They also saw and felt what I did while creating it. The magic of the moon is more than just visual. There is purpose as well.

The Magic of the Moon: Moon Surf

There is something magical about seeing the moon.

Doesn’t have to be at night either. Even daytime sightings have an effect on me. Maybe it all goes back to childhood when stories and imagination made such an impact on me. Or maybe I am just a child of the moon. More drawn to this magical orb in the sky than I am to the sun in it’s various appearances. Maybe that’s why I often feel the need to add a moon to many of my landscapes… even if it is just a hint of one off in the distance when it hasn’t made it’s full exit or full entrance to the sky. The magic of the moon is real to me. Ok, let’s just say it’s very appealing. (I wouldn’t want you to think I dance around half naked at night waving and chanting. However, if that is something YOU do, I’m not judging.)

Science tells us that the moon does indeed have an effect on our natural world, including us. History tells us it has indeed been a subject of awe and adoration to many cultures. But this missive is not about science or history, this is about painting and trying to capture the magic of that reflective rock in the sky. The magic of the moon.

In the painting Moon Surf, I was remembering the many nights from various vacations on the Alabama and Florida coast. Nights with the moon shining down on the water, the soft glow of drifting clouds embracing the moonlight, and the glorious soothing sounds of the waves coming on shore. Maybe for you, it brings back a memory from another place, a different setting.

Unlike the majority of my landscapes/seascapes, this one was done using acrylics (gasp!) and brushes (double gasp!). If you don’t know, I prefer to use palette knives and now I mostly use oil paint. I rarely take a painting done with brushes and acrylic to the gallery.

Maybe the magic of the moon cast a spell on me.

Visitors to My Garden

When I hear the word “garden” I think of an area that was put in with a lot of thought. Something planned. Neat sections of either veggies or flowers, shrubs, etc. Areas that people admire and might say “Wow, that’s impressive!”

Not mine.

My garden areas are planned, but what’s actually planted in them are a bit haphazard. They need some work (always) and I wouldn’t use the words “neat” or “wow” in any description of them. No, someone would most likely say something more like, “Oh, how… nice. Must be a lot of work.” Which really means: “You don’t spend a lot of time weeding, do you?”

I put plants in flower beds with the hope that they live and look somewhat attractive. Attractive to me. Attractive to the birds and butterflies. As they get out of hand, I try to wrangle them in… the beds, not the birds and butterflies.

My flower beds are often the result of experiments in what will or won’t grow in a particular spot. They won’t attract any local Garden Club visitors or awards. However, no matter what the areas look like, I will have visitors that appreciate my efforts… visitors in the form of squirrels, rabbits, and the aforementioned birds and butterflies. (Other insects will not be talked about. I have declared them, especially those that bite, insecta non gratis.)

The birds enjoy plantings they can hide or nest in. The rabbits enjoy just about anything they can eat. I have had to say goodbye to many a colorful flower due to them being a tasty treat for the bunnies. (That’s ok. I like watching bunnies and have had several over the years who trust me enough to let me get close.) The squirrels enjoy digging in the flower beds and taking the occasional nibble at the roots of some of the plants. Then there are the butterflies who seem to enjoy everything.

Sadly, the many varieties that used to come have diminished over the years. However, the little white ones still love to hang around and keep returning summer after summer. I’m no expert, but they look like ones called “southern white”. These little visitors to my garden are quite active. They dance from flower to flower, and plant to plant, as they seem to explore and delight in what is out there.

Due to their continued presence and apparent delight in my yard, I included them in a series of paintings for an art show I had in June. It was my way of saying, thank you little butterflies, I appreciate you and you can be visitors to my garden any time you want.

And bring your friends.

Last Fairway of the Day

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I never hit the golf course early in the morning. Teeing off to the sun coming up was not for me. However, playing late in the day is something I always enjoyed (except for the mosquitoes). Being on a course early and late evenings appealed to me. Especially when there was enough clouds and other particulates (great word, rolls right off the tongue) in the sky to make for a gorgeous prelude to sunset.

I often paint sunsets, I just love seeing them, and sometimes will paint them with a golf theme. This is my latest one and comes from many memories of being on the last fairway or last few fairways heading back to the clubhouse. It’s a soothing time of day. Yes, the shadows and loss of light did make it hard to see where the ball landed. But let’s be honest, we seem to have that problem even during the brightest time of the day. “Did you see where it landed? What do you mean, you weren’t watching?” Yeah, yeah.

Evenings often bring out sounds and sights you wouldn’t see during the mid-morning to mid-afternoon times. Families of deer nibbling grass on the fairways. Rabbits and (depending on where you are) foxes, coyotes, racoons. Birds are settling down for the night and singing their end of day songs. Stars are starting to light up in the darker areas of the sky. Colors are less washed out.

Even if you weren’t having your best day on the course, something about that last fairway when the sun is getting ready for bed makes it a little bit better. At least it did for me. Hopefully, for you too.

Birdie on the Back Nine

If you’ve been reading any of my latest posts, you will know that I used to play golf. Wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible, but loved playing. At the time I was a member of the Executive Ladies Golf Association and our local chapter played a lot all over Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. We also played in some regionals in other states to the north. Anyway, recently, for some reason, I’ve been thinking about those days.

Today’s topic? Birdies.

Birdies, for me did happen once in a while, but they were not the norm on my scorecard. However, because of where I played, I got to enjoy many birdies of the avian variety. Birds and golf courses. They go hand in hand.

One time when I was working as a volunteer for the PGA Tour when it was at English Turn in New Orleans, the foursome teeing off had to wait while a male duck chased a female duck all over the front area of the tee box. Both were quacking like crazy and everyone was laughing their heads off. Took several minutes for the crazed courtship to careen down to the wooded area next to us. The starter had some funny things to say which only prolonged the laughter and the delay.

All kinds of feathered friends live at golf courses. Ducks, geese, wild turkeys, and I kid you not… peacocks. Yes indeed! Imagine getting ready to hit your ball and a peacock lets loose with a scream. One of my foursome almost let go of her club on that swing. I believe that was on a course somewhere near Lumberton, Mississippi. Really pretty course. Have no idea if it’s still open and now wonder if the peacocks are still around.

I have to say, of all the birds found on courses, I do believe that I enjoy seeing herons the most. All kinds and sizes have patiently watched me play by. They are so stately and quite elegant when they take flight. Watching one always seemed to have a calming effect on me.

At least until I sliced my shot. Oh well. I’ll just paint them now.

Wishes In The Wind

One of the many things from my childhood that makes me smile are the memories of picking dandelions that had gone to seed. What a joy it was to pick them, blow, and make wishes in the wind.

Seems easy, but there was a learning curve to it. Blow too hard and the fluffy head of seeds exploded. Blow just right, with pursed lips, and the seeds gently lifted into the air and rose higher and higher with the currents. Blow into the wind and you wound up with seeds in your hair, your mouth, your nose. Not fun.

Making your wish prior to sending them airborne was the ultimate thrill. You just never knew if a seed would carry that wish to the right “unknown” whereby the wish would be granted.

Many a race was run as I would try to be the first to get to a ripe dandelion before friends got there. And many a near fight would take place when, before I could make that wish-filled blow, someone next to me would blow first! Little heathens. There are unwritten rules for making dandelion wishes.

I still enjoy watching a child following the ages old tradition of picking one of these magical weeds and making a wish prior to blowing it into the air. Sharing that moment with a child is even better. The younger they are, the more magical the moment is.

However, if the magical, wish inducing, dandelion being blown into the air was found in my yard… then I really hope the wind is blowing away from my lawn.

Those things grow, you know… like weeds!