Archive for the 'What If' Category

Painted Ladies

Have you ever witnessed a butterfly break free of it’s cocoon? I had always imagined the molting process as being long and gradual; something one surely wouldn’t miss in the blink of an eye.

Last week my neighbour, Kathryn, called me up in an hurry, asking if I wanted to come over and witness a chrysalis hatching. (Kathryn’s son is an insect enthusiast and for the past two years, they’ve ordered Painted Lady Caterpillar kits through the mail.) I went over not knowing what to expect. On their kitchen table sat a netted enclosure (which looked like a collapsible laundry hamper) with cocoons pinned to the inside wall. Eight butterflies had hatched earlier that morning and were now flexing their wings along the mesh wall. Lucky for me, there were still 6 cocoons remaining. The one we focused our attention on had a deeper colour showing through the chrysalid shell…a sign it could open any second.

painted lady butterfly cocoon

Kathryn and I sat in front of the hamper with our eyes glued to the cocoon. Sure enough, a little break started to form along the cocoon’s side, and then within seconds, out popped the butterfly! As it pumped up it’s wings, a red liquid trickled down. What I thought was blood was actually a substance called Meconium: a metabolic waste product from the pupal stage. You can see the red stains from the process in the above photo.

Toy and the butterflies

Butterflies are pretty low maintenance, however, they do require a a fresh supply of fruit to feed from until their release. Because Kathryn and her family were heading out camping that weekend, I was delighted to be given the task of butterfly sitter. Toy, our cat, was equally delighted and kept a close watch on her new flitty friends.

paintedbutterfly_sketch3

I was able to make some sketches while the butterflies were resting. The top and bottom of the Painted Lady wings are so different in colour and pattern.

painted butterfly sketch

The underwing has such a sophisticated pallet of chocolate browns, honey browns, creams and clever hits of turquoise and sky blue.

painted lady butterfly wing eating

Perhaps next year I’ll order a butterfly kit of my own. It would be neat to witness the caterpillar stage all the way through to the big, final release!

Advertisements

Time Lapse of a Flowering Croton

Have you seen the film Dennis the Menace? There’s a scene were Mr. Wilson is hosting a garden party to celebrate the anticipated blooming of his treasured “Night-Blooming Mock Orchid”, a fictional species of plant that only flowers once every 40 years.  Just as the flower’s petals begin to unfold, Dennis bursts into the scene, drawing everyone’s attention away from the spectacle—only for it to have completely withered by the time they look back. (Here’s the clip)

I feel for poor, old Mr. Wilson. Forty years is a long time to wait for a plant to perform a 10-second show and then miss it. Luckily for me, one of my houseplants performed a flowering show that was a little harder to miss.

croton marker drawing, croton illustration, croton plant

Sketch of the same Croton plant, back in 2012.

For the first time in the seven years I had cared for it, my Croton plant decided to grow a strand of tightly clustered buds from it’s crown. It was early July and I had just moved apartments, and so instead of sitting in its usual south-facing window, my Croton found a new place in front of a north-facing window. A little research revealed that it’s quite rare for indoor Crotons to flower, so perhaps the change in light direction really did play a part.

Well whatever the reason, this plant sure put on a nice show. And thanks to the magic of time lapse photography I can share its blooming spectacle with you. (see video below)

flowering croton plant

one week into flowering

flowering croton

3 weeks into flowering

time lapse photography, flowering croton

To make the time lapse video, my boyfriend, Kevin, hooked up an intervalometer to his Canon 6D. After experimenting with different frame rates, we settled on taking one frame every 5 minutes. A soft box gave us a steady source of light throughout the two and a bit weeks we spent shooting it.

Sweet Potato Vine Update

I find it coincidental that the same week I watched “Gravity” in theatres, my sweet potato plant decided to give in to gravity and lower its vines.

As mentioned in my previous post, the vines were “growing upwards, straight like a sapling”…well, that’s simply not the case anymore! In the span of 48 hours, it’s stalks bent completely over like fallen timber and continued growing like nothing had happened. Its newly swooped vines give the plant a more balanced shape now, and I’m happy to see that it’s settling comfortably into its new, roomier pot.

sweet potato vine plant potted

Sweet Potato Vine

I came across this diagram in one of my old houseplant books:

vintage houseplant book sweet potato vine diagram

Sweet-potato placed in a pickle jar soon makes an attractive house vine”, it read. Seeming easy enough, I gave it a try with a few modifications.

Placed in a pot with soil, my store-bought sweet potato began to grow leaves a couple of days after it’s first watering. The leaves were waxy and veiny like tiny techni-colour bat’s wings, at first — a really strange sight to see!

sweet potato vine plant

It’s been over a month now, and this experiment of a plant is doing quite well. Unlike the diagram, my sweet potato’s vine is growing upwards, straight like a sapling. Maybe if it stays healthy over the winter I’ll be able to plant it outside come spring. I’ll share its progress in the coming months.

A Constellation of Blogging Brilliance

I’ve been suffering from what I call “Blog-Block”.

Blog-block (wow, that’s a mouthful!) happens when the elements of a blog post: images, written content and purpose, are unable to line up for quite some time.

I picture them as three planets circling around my head in a dizzying mess. They spin and spin, and spin some more, until at last, when I least expect it, they magically align into a constellation of blogging brilliance.

(Brilliant to the author rather than the reader, I should point out.)

Believe it or not, a cosmic alignment just happened while I was writing the paragraph above. I thought, wouldn’t it be brilliant to showcase my new favourite tool, a star burst paper puncher that happens to look constellation-y, in this very same post?

And voila! A complete blog post.

star burst paper puncher

purple aster

Thoughts of spring on this snowy blowy winter’s day.

purple aster

Red Stems

A Lily and Dogwood hybrid, imagined.

dogwood bloom


Hello

My name is Ashley Barron and I'm a Toronto based illustrator. This is my online show & tell of new artwork and anything else I find inspiring. Thanks for taking a look :)

my website:

my website

New Book!

Kyle Goes Alone

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join me on Instagram :)

Porcupines perusing pine trees from #SizingUpWinter ❄️❄️❄️ @owlkidspublishing Listening Ears Has anyone else’s cat grown a thick winter coat, like over night? Nori is a fur blob now. (portrait by @kevincwwong) I didn’t draw houses and trees as a kid... I mostly drew women with floor-length hair wearing medieval dresses. If I find them, I’ll post them sometime. 😂 Remember when the sun used to set at 9pm? 😩 Nap time at Riverdale Farm. Making lots of babies.......(the cut-paper kind) for my next book with @owlkidspublishing That’s my mom, in the blue sweater, about to sweep! 💙