Aug 23rd, 2017

Butterfly Books from Butterflies LIVE!

Meet Jeanne Schlesinger, creator of butterfly books. She is a Garden Member who regularly visits Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to see the plants and enjoy nature, but also to photograph butterflies up close. Schlesinger visits so often, sometimes 4 to 5 times a week, that she’s well-known to our butterfly curators and other staff. Her aim? To capture the abundant beauty inside the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit and create butterfly books where she can admire these beauties any time she likes.

photo of photographer Jeanne Schlesinger smiling next to a butterfly

Jeanne Schlesinger visits the Garden to capture the beauty of Butterflies LIVE! She’s trying to get photos of each variety.

Photography & Art with Butterflies

Schlesinger loves to capture nature’s hidden charm through her camera lens. “I like to highlight the beauty that is hidden in plain sight,” Schlesinger says. The small details of “unlikely beauty,” are not necessarily the blooms, but the delicate spirals of a passion flower, a butterfly’s nectar-filled proboscis, or even a close view of a rusted city railing. Schlesinger says she feels especially drawn to photographing butterflies though, because of their brilliant colors, unique form and individual expressions. If you visit the Garden in the morning you may even catch her crouched on the floor in Butterflies LIVE! waiting for just the right shot.

“I try to focus on their eyes,” Schlesinger points out. “If you get their eyes — everything else comes together.”

blue and orange colored butterfly

Indian oak leaf butterfly (Kallima inachus) in the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit. Image by Jeanne Schlesinger.

Apart from her photography, Schlesinger is also an artist, experimenting with Spirograph-like drawings, glitter pens and more recently coloring books. Schlesinger discovered coloring after a difficult work transition, needing a way to relax and find inner calm. “I decided to take one week just for coloring, but that turned into six weeks!” says Schlesinger.

Schlesinger taking a photo of a butterfly

Schlesinger kneels to get just the right shot of the Indian oak leaf (Kallima inachus) butterfly to include in her butterfly books.

Butterfly Books

In the last year, Schlesinger’s coloring has taken a fascinating turn as she authored and published her first coloring book, “Making Art with Butterflies.”  Scheslinger explains that she was inspired to develop her book because she loves photography, coloring and butterflies. “Why not combine all my skills into one and create a coloring book with my butterfly pictures?”  Using the photos she took at Lewis Ginter’s Butterflies LIVE!, Schlesinger then transformed her work into a collection of coloring pages, turning the colorful shadows and highlights of each butterfly into shades of black and grey.

Butterfly books including this butterfly coloring book show varying stages of color versus black and white

The front and back covers of Schlesinger’s coloring book show how the pages can be colored in.

Each page of the book is filled with images of butterflies found in the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit. And, as Schlesinger says, coloring is great at helping people “slow down and experience inner calm,” while appreciating nature’s magnificent detail.

Coloring page of a butterfly photograph by Schlesinger

A beautiful example of Schlesinger’s photographic work transformed into a coloring page.

Making Art with Butterflies” is a way that Schlesinger’s expresses her passion for appreciating the small details and encouraging others to also “stop, see, and appreciate” the beauty that is right in front of their eyes. She hopes that “Making Art with Butterflies” will bring “joy and meditation” to others and help the butterflies “live on in [each person’s] heart” after getting to know them through her book.

Black and white coloring page rom Schlesinger's book featuring closeup of a butterfly from Butterflies LIVE!

Closeup photo of a butterfly taken by Schlesinger is transformed into a coloring page. This one highlights the butterfly’s proboscis, a straw-like drinking tube.

And most recently, as another tribute to the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, Schlesinger is also working on a second book, “Creating Calm with Butterflies,” a photo book of fully colored butterfly images — featuring even some of the newest varieties in the exhibit.

Cover of Schlesinger's new book soon to be released on Amazon

Schlesinger’s newest book, soon to be released on Amazon, is filled with brightly colored butterfly photographs.

About Mariah Hulen

Mariah Hulen is a graduate of Liberty University and working as a PR & Marketing Intern this Summer. When not at the Garden, she enjoys experiencing nature and capturing its beauty through photos, journals and illustrations.

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