30 in 30: Kamehameha Butterflies with Orange Ohia

Kamehameha Butterflies with Orange Ohia
Acrylic on Wood Panel
8″ X 10″

Kamehameha butterflies are one of Hawaii’s two endemic butterflies. Its Hawaiian name is pulelehua, which roughly means “to float from one flower to the next”. The name also includes the idea of reddish coloring (the lehua flower is a very similar color, especially the red ones when the sun is shining through its wings). In my imagination, when I hear the term, I see a vision of an ohia flower that has come to life, floating and shimmering in the sun in the form of a butterfly as it glides from flower to flower through the forest. Perhaps it is another step in an imaginative metamorphosis for these beautiful butterflies. Here I have placed the small kamehameha butterflies with the ohia lehua mentioned in their name, but I wanted to see them alight on the orange variant which is a more rare color of ohia.

Special thank you to Kim and Forrest Starr for their generous sharing of photos in the public domain that allowed me to render the orange lehua. They are photographers who seek out many native and endemic plants and animals and post them online to educate and share their vast knowledge and talents with others. I do not know them personally yet, but I imagine we may meet someday (it’s a small island!). I have found their photo collection useful several times over the course of painting Hawaiian plant life and birds, and appreciate how long it takes to hike into areas with these rare endemic Hawaiian plants. It is very kind of them to share so freely with the online community!

This is day 5 for me of the 30 in 30 challenge. I took a quick detour from birds for a couple of days, but I know I will return at least a few times to painting them. I really enjoy birds! Tomorrow I will post my red ohia variant of kamehameha butterflies, however. I couldn’t just paint one! Not with all the pretty colors of ohia that we have in the islands!

If you want to see the entire series of paintings, you can see it here:

View the other 20 in 20 paintings in this gallery >>