Monarch butterfly: The story of this story

This story took place many years ago when my son was young. It is a true story and each time I would tell it to someone they would say, ” what a beautiful story . You should make a children’s book out of that. ” So the idea of creating a children’s book began to take seed. As my son, Antwan, grew into his teen years he became interested in art and I encouraged him, while in art school in California, to illustrate the story. He did but before getting it to the publishing stages he began to encourage me to illustrate it also. Although I have always been creative, I had not done any art since my high school years so beginning was very difficult. A few more years went by. 

San Miguel de Allende
I ended up in 2010 moving to Mexico and having lots of free time.
 Mexico was an important part of this story and now I was also living very near the location where the Monarch wintering grounds were. This had been a long time dream of mine, to go to the reserve.

My brother, Larry , and I on our trip to the Monarch Reserve
In the spring of 2011 I realize that dream with my brother, Larry. When for my birthday he arranged a trip to the Monarch Reverve in Micheocon Mexico. What a fabulous experience. Check out the page for the reserve for that full story.

I thought again about the book and the possibility of illustrating it. I was still reluctant to believe that I could do it myself . I was living in a town ranked as one of the top 10 artistic towns of the  world. San Miguel de Allende in Central southern Mexico.

 So I began to investigate to possibility of finding an artist to do the book. In exploring San Miguel, I found an extrarordinary artist Juan Ezcurdia.
monarch butterfly, children's book monarch butterfly,juan ezcurdia,childrens book illustrator
Juan Ezcurdia

I loved Juan’s simpI loved Juan’s simple art. He had won awards for the illustration of children’s books in Mexico. Juan was kind enough to give me lots of advice and he shared his own story of how he had evolved into this famous artist. He had come from an artistic family but had never been trained in art so he began his career by just painting from his emotions and his heart. I was so inspired by his story that rather than ask him to do my story I decided to begin doing it myself.

 So  I bought 8 bottles of simple childrens art paint in Mexican colors of BLUE, GREEN, RED, YELLOW, ORANGE AND PURPLE
Using only these colors I began with the first picture, establishing the face and character of Madame.
monarch butterfly, children's book monarch butterfly
The inspiration for this picture came from one my son had done. So Madame truly became a blending of creativity between he and I.
I had loved the pictures Antwan had done . His technique was so refined. He used airbrush, colored pencils and acrylic paint. But as I worked in my media of inexpensive childrens paint I began to love the quality of my paintings as well.
Madame began to evolve.

monarch butterfly, children's book monarch butterfly
Gathering Pumpkins
Here is another example of the inspiration of Antwans illustration had on me. The opening scene of the book is a description of a day that we were out gathering pumpkins when we first saw Madame on a pumpkin stem.
I loved the position of me in his drawing and began with that in the center of the page.
My second image includes a much closer view of antwan than his drawing did .
monarch butterfly, children's book monarch butterfly,juan ezcurdia,childrens book illustratorThese first two pictures had me “hooked” on the idea of illustrating the book myself.
Although, I know Juan would have done a great job and Antwan’s art was wonderful . I now knew why I needed to be the one to do it.  The art was flowing from the heart of the experience in only the way it could from my adult perspective of the time of the story.
Antwan has gone on to become a very successful artist. Check out more of his work