Painting a butterfly...

Painting a butterfly...

The sun has made a welcome return these past few days

But I can see the summer slowly melting into autumn, the leaves are turning a little and cyclamen are out

My Devon lanes are brimming with blackberries , it is a daily joy to watch things come and go, each year without fail. Whatever madness goes on in the wider world.

I find my painting and a connection to nature help me to practise a kind of mindfulness. I know how lucky I am to while away hours contemplating a flower or a bird. However I know not all of you have as much time as I do to commit to painting.  

I am thrilled my blogs are helpful, and when people say how did you learn to paint like you do...I am sorry but there is no magic formula, mainly it is practice practice and more practice. However a few helpful tips along the way might get you over a hurdle or two.

I like to show you how to paint smaller subjects too as I know many of you don't have hours and hours to commit to learning watercolours, here is a small painting of a red admiral . I love watching them flit about, especially when you see 2 dancing over the hedgerow. 

So first I sketch out my butterfly 

Then I use a paper clip ( very expensive piece of equipment) and some removeable masking fluid , to mark off the white bits.

Then I start on the body of the butterfly, 

I have used blues to paint the body, careful to leave a highlight where the light hits the butterfly.

Now we can have some fun I spray the paper with a little spray bottle and drop colour onto the paper, I let it spread out over the lines, it is a bit like herding cats ! But go with it the more you do the more you'll know what to expect. And it is only watercolours that do this so be free with them and surprise yourself. 

Now I add the darker tones to the wing, burnt umber and alizarin crimson, with cerulean blue highlights.

Now it is just a case of slowly moving around the butterfly, and spraying the parts where you want the colours to bleed. The dark tips are done with a mixture of sepia and indigo. I never use black.

It all settles down and you can add details like the antennae , now leave it to dry, before gently rubbing off the masking fluid.

I also added some greens and some white acrylic , but it's your butterfly so it's entirely up to you. Have fun x


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Following your artwork day by day has sharpened my senses: on my daily walks with my dogs through the wild beech forests of my home region I perceive so many things I haven’t seen before, like all the wild flowers coming and going as the year moves forward. I am curious to see which flower is popping up next…


I so much love your watercolours. I shall give this one a try. It is so, so beautiful !!


I love that watercolour does what it does, it’s your tips have helped me control the muddy puddles that I often create, but I’m learning not to!
This is a lovely little painting so effective I’m going to have a go, remembering to be free and not to controlling.
Thank you as always, I really enjoy your blogs

Diane Hayward

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