Fluttering a summer away…an art project and some memories.

The year was 2002, and Huz had some work in the Maldives. Yes, you heard me right. The Maldives. He had to be there for a month, and luckily the time coincided with summer holidays for Amu, so after working out the feasibility of the two of us going along and staying at a nearby resort island while Huz ferried back and forth to work in Male, it was decided that we would accompany him πŸ™‚

In retrospect, it was probably the most idyllic month of our lives, and I would give an arm and a leg to be there now, when I have so many more digital cameras, but really, at the time I couldn’t help wondering what Amu and I would DO all day to keep us entertained. How much snorkelling and swimming can one possibly do? How much can you read in a hammock? How do you keep a four year old occupied all day for weeks on an island without any forms of recreation besides the obvious ones? How many sand castles can you make? (we made one every day πŸ˜› )

These are questions (among many more) that I may answer in some future blog post, with pictorial illustrations. For now, I will have you, my dear readers, know that I took along with me my paintbrushes, watercolours, and some good Cansen paper. And a Nature book on butterflies.

I love butterflies. They are the most mesmerising creatures (in my opinion) and I am blown away by the sheer variety of them. If one happens to flutter by, I will drop everything and watch it till it flutters away. It’s just one of those things you have to do. Watch butterflies, yeah.

I never liked the idea of real, dead butterflies framed and put on walls (no offense to anyone who does so, it just doesn’t appeal to me.) But I had an idea when I came across that book on butterflies in an old book store. Why not replicate them in watercolours?

So I decided to make that my summer project, and what better way to put your nose to the grindstone than to maroon yourself on a tiny Maldivian island?

Every day (after my post-breakfast nap) I sat down by the window in my beach bungalow, with all my paraphernalia laid out neatly. I would first sketch the butterfly, a painstaking process (when you’re feeling lazy in the summery torpor) because one half of the butterfly had to be an exact mirror image of the other half. Crazy concentration. Once the sketch was complete, I’d start mixing colours and painting.

When I look at my framed butterfly panels now, I associate them with that idyllic Maldivian summer of 2002. It brings back (slightly blurred) memories of white sand, dappled sunlight filtering in through the trees, turquoise waters and countless afternoons spent going for walks around Paradise island, sand castles, and yoga on the beach.

So I hope you enjoy looking at these today. I inscribed the scientific names of the butterflies underneath the watercolors because I love saying the names out loud and would have forgotten them otherwise…

To give you an idea of the size, these were all done on 5”x5” squares of white paper.

bottle green

Can you guess which one I love the most? What would you do for fun/recreation on a month-long getaway in Paradise? πŸ™‚


  1. huzaifazoom says:

    The Latin names also sound like Harry Potter spells.

    1. Munira says:

      Hah! You’re right Huz! πŸ˜€

  2. nadira says:

    Munira I loved this one, somehow it transported me to that island far away and made me yearn for that inner peace…… also the fact that I’m absolutely crazy about butterflies made it that much more special for me:) Your water colors are beautiful, would love to have a look at them for real.

    1. Munira says:

      Inner peace eluded me on that tranquil island Nadira. I remember going through some tumultuous emotions while I was there…..but that’s a whole other story that I don’t think I can talk about on my blog….wish I could though….it would make for some interesting subject matter!
      I think I knew you love butterflies too when I saw those personalized envelopes you had printed. Funnily enough, butterflies were my theme when I had my ‘business’ cards printed for ‘Frills’!
      Your comment means a lot to me (artists and architects are discerning people!) and I would love for you to come over some day and see them for real πŸ™‚

      1. nadira says:

        hmm sounds more mysterious…… now I’m curious about those thoughts…..those emotions, and yes I know it’s none of my business πŸ™‚
        Well the good part is I’ve got my self invited over, so will take u up on that soon!

        1. Munira says:

          Haha! Keep guessing! πŸ˜€ Though really, I think it would make a great short story, and a fantastic subject for discussion, though a bit ‘risque’ πŸ˜‰ Ok, I should probably shush up now.
          We should meet up soon for sure! Would be fun! πŸ™‚

          1. nadira says:

            sounds like a date πŸ™‚

  3. These are so gorgeous they brought tears to my eyes, Munira! How stunning! You have got to do more of this, my friend! You are so, so gifted!

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing these. Do you have more paintings? Watercolor is so difficult!


    1. Munira says:

      Well let’s see…..there are nine of these on my wall…three at my Mom’s….three (or four) were sold…and i gifted two to a couple of relatives πŸ™‚
      Thanks for appreciating them Kathy! I promised you I’d put them up, didn’t I? πŸ˜‰
      it’s been a long time since I did any watercolors, so I hope I haven’t lost the feel of it….and yes, I agree….it is a difficult medium indeed…

  4. By the way, I think the last one is my favorite! How about you?

    1. Munira says:

      Good choice there πŸ™‚ and you guessed right!

  5. photokunstler says:

    The Appias one or the last one is your favourite?

    Welcome to my world. Every day in paradise, with little entertainment but lots of beaches and ocean. But when you live there, you don’t really celebrate it in the same way. Not after the first year or so.

    I love seeing your watercolours! It is my very favourite medium, and I hope you share more of yours!

    1. Munira says:

      Poecilmitis thysbe is the one! I loved doing that one…..it turned out rather poetic I think! Love the way the browns and the blues merge….LOVE the way aquamarine settles into a textured wash…
      Will post more pictures for you to see, very soon…and I understand why watercolor is your favorite medium. I think it is mine too, though it can be very daunting as well! It’s been ages, so I’m a little afraid to pick up my brush again….
      And you know I love your world….your beautiful blog pulled me into it πŸ™‚

      1. photokunstler says:

        Yes, that was my guess as well. I think they’re all pretty amazing!

        It is funny, we unpacked the boxes for the condo here in Canada (where we are until October – just as you tune in to my turquoise ocean blog!) and pulled out the art we had for the walls (this is our stuff we had shipped here two years ago, and we hadn’t seen in that time) and we were surprised to see that it was all watercolours! There was one oil painting, done by my husband’s uncle, a famous painter in Holland.

        1. Munira says:

          Thank you so much Patty, coming from another watercolorist, it sure means a lot. πŸ™‚
          Y’know, I was wondering how long you’d be in Canada and all the stuff you have to do (and buy!) to settle in. Your lifestyle amazes me, truly.
          I love staring at watercolors and seeing how they’ve been done….it’s just fascinating to me. I have so many books on them too. Sometimes I’m surprised I don’t paint more considering how much I used to……so now you know why I’d love to be a part of your art group. You have really inspired me πŸ™‚

  6. They are all so beautiful, but for me “Watery” has the colors I like all together. I seem to be a in an “Orange” mood too! They are all so pretty. I can’t guess your favorite; isn’t it like choosing a favorite son or daughter? Just not possible?

    If I could go away somewhere delicious like that, I’d dedicate at least to hours a day to write an novella, hopefully as escapist, languid and colorful as the surroundings. πŸ™‚

    1. Munira says:

      Watery is my absolute favourite…though there’s one I sold which turned out very beautiful too. I wish I hadn’t sold it 😦 Now THAT is more difficult than choosing a favorite.
      Yes, I’d imagine writing is what you’d love to do best πŸ™‚ (hope you get to go away and do exactly that some day!)

  7. Love these. Warercolour is such a tough medium (let no-one be fooled). You have done it and yourself proud. I bet they make a great display. Oh, how I’d love to be just locked away on a sunny island with my paints, notebooks and guitar. Painting, writing poems, writing music – dreamland. πŸ™‚

    1. Munira says:

      Thanks so much Al πŸ™‚ I forgot to put up a pic of the entire ensemble. (silly me)
      Next time I’m marooned on an island, I’ll make sure you’re there too…..so you can teach me how to play the guitar. Now THAT would be awesome!

      1. It would be my pleasure.

  8. tasneem says:

    Loved your post! not only u but anyone would give an arm and a leg to be in such an idyllic place! we share same interests, i love nature and especially sea, and i love to paint (though i must confess i m not as gifted as u)! your butterflies are awesome!

    1. Munira says:

      You are so sweet! Thank you so much. I hope you get to spend lots of time in an idyllic place WITHOUT parting with any arms or legs! πŸ˜€

  9. Aziza says:

    Munira! Exquisite they are each one of them. I love how you make the most of life’s curve balls.

    1. Munira says:

      Awwwwwwww! You are tooooooo kind!!!!!Thank you AA!

  10. OMG M!!!! You had a month in the Maldives??!! So NOT fair!!! πŸ˜› Me wants!! Although I must say put your vacation to much better use than I ever would have done πŸ˜› Those butterfly paintings are fabulously real…you know what I mean? Just like they’re right here in the room with me πŸ˜€ Well done M…*huge grin on face’ πŸ˜€

    And do share…how did you keep Amu busy all day? I have my hands full with Ishaan when he’s not in school. He has the attention span of a….uh….lets see…butterfly!!

    1. Munira says:

      Listen up H, you live in Goa for heaven’s sake!! But yes, I get your point
      The whole idea behind the butterflies was to make them as real-looking as possible (therefore I didn’t β€˜make them my own’) so thank you for saying they do! Glad you like!!
      Amu watched a lot of Cartoon Network (Dexter’s lab and Powerpuff girls) And we swam every day in the pool, and made sand castles, and read books, and collected thousands of shells, and swung on hammocks and observed geckos being eaten by chameleons!

      1. LOL M…you just have to come to Goa!! By hook or possibly by crook πŸ˜‰ I’m telling you…vacationing in Goa may be a trip to Paradise but living here 24/7 is a whole ‘nother story sister!!! πŸ˜› I hope there aren’t any die-hard Goans reading this or I’m likely to be No.1 on the hit-list πŸ˜›

        Aah…Ishaan is not into TV 😦 This fact while mostly thrilling me is a huge disadvantage when it comes to getting him to sit still! Now chameleons eating geckos…that’s the sort of gruesomeness we live for πŸ˜‰

        1. Munira says:

          Haha, you’re right, you need to do your bit for the tourism industry and keep mum!
          So Ishaan doesn’t watch tv you say?? Oof! You have my sympathies πŸ˜‰

  11. Kathy says:

    You have the soul of an artist. It sounds like such an idyllic time. (I just added to discover that Amu must be 14 now?)

    1. Munira says:

      Your comments are the Universe’s gifts to me πŸ™‚ (just read your wonderful blog post about the Universe gifting you a kayak)
      It feels good to me to hear that I have the soul of an artist, it really does! In fact, it put a right bounce in my step πŸ™‚ So thank you for that!
      (and yes, you’re absolutely right about Amu being 14 now…..*sigh*…..how time flies….)

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