Watching Butterflies

Goldenrod Monarch Butterflies Watercolor Painting Illustration

For our prompt of “Goldenrod” today, I sketched a couple of butterflies rushing to enjoy a bit of its pollen. There have been a ton of monarch butterflies this year where I live and it’s been a joy to see them. Butterflies have always made me smile with their intricate and delicate beauty. No matter what’s happening that day, when I spot a butterfly, I’m reminded of everything that’s wonderful about life. Nature has a wonderful way of reminding me that some things in the world are gloriously meant to happen next. As a kid, I also adored seeing butterflies flitting from flower to flower in the fields of my grandparent’s farm. Though, I have to admit that grasshoppers freaked me out a little bit, at first. I’d be lost in thought and staring at a butterfly when a grasshopper would zoom by my face or even smack me in the side of the head. But, I soon learned to appreciate grasshoppers too, and every little fascinating creature I discovered.

Truly, one of the things I love most about nature is that everything makes sense. From the things that happen to the beautiful color palettes that influence my own art. Humans, on the other hand, will come up with the oddest things. Philippe and I were watching a show this weekend that takes place in Australia and one of the characters offered another some Marmite on toast. I hadn’t tried this and so I asked Philippe about it and he made a contorted face saying it was awful. I was intrigued so I pressed further and he admitted that it had been a long time since he’d tried it. So, I did what every kid just has to DO next, I made a plan to try some immediately. So I snuck it into our very next grocery order and it arrived this afternoon. Philippe came downstairs awhile ago and asked if I’d tried it yet. I said that I hadn’t so we tried it together on a plain cracker. I immediately made the same face he’d made when I had asked him about it.

As it turns out, Marmite just tastes like salt. It’s meant to be yeast extract and there are many other flavors added, but the second ingredient is salt and it was all I could taste. Not a single other flavor came through. No doubt, if one had been raised eating it, they might have felt a bit differently. Or, perhaps, just developed a stronger appreciation for salt. Unlike those little creatures found in nature, much our own instincts have been learned over time. This certainly keeps things interesting as we often don’t have the same things in common. But just like when I was a kid, I like to try new things and experience what others enjoy. It’s entirely possible that I might discover something wonderful and new that I enjoy as well. True, sometimes, it might just end up being Marmite, but that next time it might be something I find truly incredible. There’s a lot more to discover in the world and I’m happy living each and every day open to learning more, while watching butterflies.

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Goldenrod Monarch Butterflies Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail

Recommended2 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Karen Fortier 2 years ago

    Wonderful Charlie! We have a field of goldenrod but I haven’t seen any monarchs. The trees are getting brilliant. The maple at the end of our driveway is many shades of orange with green mixed in. We got apples from the orchard this afternoon and some cider. I hope your rain comes our way. We desperately need it as wells are going dry.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 Oh wow! Your trees sound stunning! Nothing has quite started to change where we are to that level yet. I can’t wait! Sending you our rain now!

  2. Iisa Ebenstein 2 years ago

    When I saw the butterfly sketch I thought how beautiful. Then when I scrolled down to see the bluejay feeding her babies I thought, even more beautiful. They are just delightful.

  3. writerleenda 2 years ago

    Oh Charlie, salt. Ewwwwwwwwww that is not allowed in my house oops wait I bought a boxful (why did I not tell them to send a shaker instead, a small one) to put into the pigment on my paintings but it is not food. Salt is cleaner and salt is painting enhancer. Salt will kill you. Second ingredient? I hope Phillippe does with it what I do — in the G file under the kitcny sink.


    • writerleenda 2 years ago

      I must clarify what I said about salt in pigment — after it is painted on the page, then put salt and a bit of thin plastic (bowl wrap, plastic wrap) over that and squish it into shapes, aka Jean Haines in “Atmospheric Watercolour.”

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Hehe! Yeah, I don’t like too much salt or sugar! 😉 They’re just seasonings… never meant to be an actual flavor on their own! Philippe always thinks in science and chemistry so he’ll figure out how just a tiny bit could add tons of flavor in some way when it reacts with other flavors. Too difficult to understand for me! hehe

  4. Mary Roff 2 years ago

    Beautiful, Charlie! I can think of few things more joyful than watching a butterfly dance through our yard. I don’t see as many as I used to but I always take the time to watch their journey.

  5. Claire McArthur 2 years ago

    Love your butterflies but I must gently correct you on one point – Marmite is English – Vegemite is Australian and I love it :). Of course I have eaten it since I was a child but to this day Vegemite on toast is the first thing I’ll go to when recovering from a stomach bug. Yes salt is also the second ingredient on Vegemite but everything in moderation 🙂
    I hope you have a great week.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Claire!😃💕 Aww indeed! I thought that was backwards. I was just quoting a show written by an Australian no less! Yes! Those things from childhood are so wonderful!! Hope you have a great week as well!

  6. Sandra Strait 2 years ago

    To me, marmite tastes like a beer brewery smells. It’s been well over 30 years since I had and that was while I was in England. I actually kind of liked it on a thick slab of stoneground bread (the kind you could get 30 years agao), but not enough to buy and have it around.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Yeah, it was weird… to me it tasted like nothing but salt. I couldn’t get past that bit and no other flavors came to greet me! lol 😉

  7. Marisela Delgado 2 years ago

    Beautiful painting, Charlie! 💜 Remember what I told you about what they consider “candy” in Mexico? Dehydrated strawberries rolled in chili powder. Um, hello, Imodium. On their end, they are stumped at our obsession with chocolate. My mother doesn’t like chocolate and makes scrunchy face when you offer her some. Of course, in all fairness, people get scrunchy about our tacos de lengua (cow tongue tacos), which are DELICIOUS! How funny, right? Funny how we all have foods that are part of our personal history or culture or country. To us, it is so delicious, but others think you’re nuts. It’s okay. I ‘d rather be kooky. haha haha
    Have a great week, Charlie. 🌞 Hey, did you get gumbo?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Marisela!😃💕 Yeah, it’s so wonderful how our cultures will leave us with such different food memories and tastes. Yeah… no cow tongue for me, but I think Philippe would love it! lol And yes! I did get gumbo and it was amazing!

      • Marisela Delgado 2 years ago

        What? You’re getting scrunchy on me about tacos de lengua? 😂😂😂 haha haha One day, just try one. It just tastes like meat. No weird flavor. Corn tortilla, lengua, chopped cilantro and onion, maybe a dash of salt. Deeeeeeeelish! Just try one. 💜 Yeah, I think Philippe would go for it. I mean, they eat snails. Have you tried escargot? I would try it. 😀 So glad you got gumbo. I have never had it.
        Just try one taco de lengua, Charlie. I would never mislead you. 💜💜💜 Or get Philippe to try it and get a bite. You may thank me for it later. haha haha

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

          Oh, Philippe eats every organ one can imagine. It’s definitely a French thing of waste not, want not. But I’ve had bites and I want not! lol Indeed my love of animals has almost made me vegetarian! 😊

  8. Lisa 2 years ago

    I painted goldenrod today and I didn’t even know it was the prompt!

    I have purchased things myself that I thought would be wonderful and it turned out I had to throw them out because I couldn’t stand them. But its important to try new things! What if I loved it and I would have missed out on it for my life? Its worth wasting a bit of cash to find out!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Oh wow! So cool! 😃💕 So true! Sometimes, it’s worth risking that bit of cash to find out!

  9. Gary Middleton 2 years ago

    Beautiful painting ,Charlie. I’ve seen wildlife documentaries showing the monarch butterflies migrating. It’s an incredible journey.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Gary! 😃💕 Yeah… I love watching those! It’s so awesome!!

  10. LoriCtoo 2 years ago

    Pretty sketch. I was just thinking about Monarchs yesterday as I was out in the yard. I have numerous small milkweed plants blooming this year. I have yet to see a Monarch. I’m not giving up however. I figure I’ve sent out the word and next year they will start to show up.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Perhaps this was just our year, or a fave location for them, but we’ve seen more monarchs than ever before. When I see the next one, I’ll suggest they visit!

  11. Mugdha 2 years ago

    Hello Charlie,

    You really must love Autumn lots coz for the past few days your paintings and posts have been progressively lovelier each day. I’m crazy about butterflies and as a kid, I used to follow any butterfly that flit past me. Once (I must’ve been about 7) I was so lost in staring at the butterfly that I followed it to the very edge of the porch and fell off off – landing in a bunch of rose bushes. The next few minutes were very painful as every movement I made got more thorns to prick me all over. But even that couldn’t cure my “butterfly madness” as my Mom calls it. 🙂 The best part was of course my grandmother fussing over me and giving me my favorite treat to cheer me up. You brought back such funny memories. Thanks!


    • writerleenda 2 years ago

      Mugdha I giggled all the way through your story. It sounds like so many of my own happenings — and I am such an airhead I still do it decades later. No more Nanas and Mom though so I just cackle and get up again.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Aww thanks so much, Mudgha! 😃💕 Yes, I adore this season… autumn here and it’s the lead up until Christmas with family traditions and yeah, I’ll admit it… presents and fun! I love this time. Winter comes just a few days before Christmas and then I’m over the cold by January. Yay I wasn’t the only one chasing those butterflies! That’s wonderful your mom remarked on your “butterfly madness” as my own mother collects butterfly pins. So thrilled this brought back such wonderful memories!

  12. Nellie Nellie 2 years ago

    My sweet friend Verna loved her monarchs and her son and I see them every day and think of her! Oh, and Charlie, Marmite (ewww) but Vegamite (yummm)😋 and yes, picked it up in Australia. I hate to say it but bread, butter, cheese and____(fill in the blank). But I would give it a try if you ever get a chance. 😉

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      That’s so lovely about your friend! 😃💕 And yeah…I think these things might just not be for me. I don’t enjoy really salty things. There’s only a few chips that I’ll eat from the store as most are too salty for my tastes. hehe

  13. Jerson Antao 2 years ago

    Will be seeing lots of them in October…very nicely rendered Charlie…keep going😊😍!!

  14. Priscilla DeConti 2 years ago

    Very beautiful painting…I love butterflies too.And I do enjoy seeing them flutter by when I am outdoors…I just love your sense of adventure and trying new things even marmite LOL keep it up!! Your adventures are so encouraging and uplifting not to mention fun!! 😁

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Priscilla! 😃💕 Aww glad you like my silly adventures! hehe… yeah, I will try just about any food once. But, Marmite is now just a memory for me. lol

  15. shawnthompsonart 2 years ago

    Nice Royal Flies, they really look good on the Goldenrod. “Queen Lizzy” would be mad at me for botching the English Language and calling Monarch Butterflies “Royal Flies. I really like how you captured every tiny flower on the goldenrod and did not just paint it as a mass.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 years ago

      Thanks so much, Shawn! 😃💕 Yeah, I love getting in bits of the little details… even if it’s a broad stroke!

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