I felt motivated to paint today, and this painting of a red admiral butterfly has actually been on my easel for a few weeks without progress. I originally picked out the subject and reference photo back in November for the red challenge that I didn’t finish. In fact, I had even done up an acrylic sketch on paper. You can even get a print of the sketch, though once I complete the final painting and scan it in, I will be replacing the image that is there now.
I did it quickly, and in the evening after running errands around the county and was tired and my back hurt … yet when my friend Keashia saw it, she immediately said I needed to do it again “for reals.” I didn’t get around to that until last month, and am not setting any speed-painting records on it, but today I’ve managed to make it look like I want it to look.
Yes, that is purple where I will eventually be painting black (maybe). I have two sampler sets of Golden brand Open acrylic, which is their slow-drying formula made for the en plein aire painters, but right now I am using the quick-dry acrylics to get the undertones down. I don’t have actual black in the Golden Open sets, but I do have a very traditional work-around: ultramarine blue and burnt umber, along with a convenience mixture they call sap green which I am using in the background of the piece.
The red admiral butterfly
When I looked up the red admiral butterfly, all the sources said I ought to have seen this pretty and eye-catching bug at least over the winter season, as Florida is very much in their habitat range. Alas, I have yet to catch a glimpse of one, though we have plenty of swallowtails and sulfurs fluttering across and around the property. I’ll be painting those as well in the future.
Looking through what I have uploaded to my Pixels site, I realize I am missing a blog post about a favorite charcoal drawing. Then I realized the scan I had uploaded that was (past tense now) available was from my old scanner, and that needed fixing. So, I rescanned the page from my sketchbook and replaced the old, smaller file size scan, and now I can proudly say you can get a print of this either a little smaller or a whole lot larger … like 45 by 60 inch at the biggest. That’s even bigger than my largest canvas right now! So without further ado, here is one of my favorite pages from my sketchbook, a monarch butterfly on a coneflower, rendered in charcoal.
In other news, there is a county fair this year, after a two-year hiatus, and I remembered in time to check for when they are accepting entries for the art category. It is Thursday evening and Friday morning, and I have that time block free. I will be taking up two works, the two first place winners from the VA Healthcare show. I still love how my Flamingo in Rippled Water turned out, and when I showed these two pieces to my neighbor who stopped by yesterday, he told me if it doesn’t get bought at the fair to come to him because he really wants my Dew on a Calla Lily drawing. Actually, he tried to persuade me to give it to there on the spot, but I am used to that routine by now, after living just down the road from him for nine years now.
Final bit is you may notice I have added an old style blog roll in the sidebar. Right now it is all art photographers, but I am hoping to find a drawing and painting blogger to also collaborate with soon. I blogged back in the days before social media was even a thing, and remember not only the sense of camaraderie we had, but also the fun things we used to do to help each other like link roundups, blog hops, and blog carnivals. Once I get through the busy part of spring, it will be, “Game ON!” with those ideas, so something to look forward to once the yellow flies come out of the swamp.
I am starting to list my original paintings on the site Daily PaintWorks for additional exposure as well as making it a bit easier to handle the business side of selling online. First listed is the 10 by 8 inch watercolor, Monarch on Coneflower. Prints will still be available through my Pixels store, and apparel and accessories through RedBubble, even after the original is sold. I’ll be uploading an available original painting at DPW each day for the next month, as they offer a 31 day free trial, and I am still looking for my “place” on the internet where my art will do best.
The inspiration for this piece came when I asked my son if there is anything he would like to see me paint, and he immediately informed me he loves monarch butterflies and would love to see what kind of paintings I can do of them. Of course, he credits the cartoon The Venture Brothers for sparking his interest (there is a comical villain called the Monarch in it, complete with henchmen dressed as butterflies), though the more he learned about the real butterflies, the more he likes them.
I was happy to oblige, as I think monarchs are beautiful butterflies, and wanted to see if I could capture that lovely orange of the sunlight coming through the wings. First thing to do was draw in charcoal, to “get the shapes and shadows” prior to painting in color. I wasn’t particularly interested in making much other than a green blob as the background, mainly because I wanted all the focus to be on the butterfly and the flower. A secondary reason is a bit more pragmatic: it isn’t always easy to do details in watercolor, especially the first decade or so when you begin watercolor painting.
One of my early watercolor paintings, but still one I enjoy using as an avatar at various platforms, including Anchor/Spotify, Pinterest, and sometimes Facebook. It’s bright and colorful, with enough simplified lines to be easily recognized even when shrunk in size.