Bay Nature magazineJuly-September 2010

Art and Design

Painted Wings

July 1, 2010

Almost ten years ago, San Rafael-based artist MaryAnn Nardo began painting images of butterflies. A trained botanical illustrator, she wanted to bring more into the picture and also create something both local and educational. These paintings are all of those things. Each shows a local native species with its host plant (the particular plant that its caterpillars eat), as well as its larval form and chrysalis. Each painting, then, is a bit like a page in a field guide.

And yet also very different. The paintings were done oversize in watercolor on Douglas-fir boards–local butterflies on local wood. “I couldn’t imagine painting on blank canvas,” says Nardo. “The wood brought something more to it, its own life.”

And most of all, the works are simply beautiful, like the butterflies themselves. “I could get lost in the wings,” she says. Find out more or order prints by emailing

Blue copper
Blue copper. Host plant: shrub sulphur buckwheat.
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