Sketchbook: Butterfly study

Sketchbook: butterfly study
Sketchbook: butterfly study

Over the last few weeks my spare time has been consumed by cleaning up the house after our building alterations. We’re not quite finished yet, but we’re almost there.  It’s marvellous having our home coming back into shape, but the down side  has been no studio time for the past few weeks.

When I’ve not painted for a while I can find it difficult to get back into the right frame of mind. This is one of the times when my sketchbooks really play a role. I’ve carried a small watercolour moleskine for over a year now. It’s great for little studies, particularly when I’m away from my studio.  Last Christmas I was given a wonderful big book made from gorgeous 640g Saunders Waterford paper. This one is ideal for more complex studies, some of which are done over a few sessions.

When I got back into the studio for a precious hour this evening, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to paint a full picture. I reworked a painting I wasn’t entirely sure of – and will see if it worked when I have another look at it later. And then went back to work on a study I started in January and hadn’t gone back to for a while.

For many years Marc has collected framed butterflies. Sadly they do dry out, especially in a home with central heating, and eventually some of them deteriorate enough to start to break apart.  The entire collection had to come down from the wall in preparation for the builders’ arrival, and it was apparent that at least five of them are no longer in a good enough condition to be rehung. Rather than throw them away, I rescued them to use as subjects in the studio.

This page in my sketchbook captures some ideas for painting butterflies. Their colours makes them ideal subjects for watercolour painting. In many cases they are intricately patterned, and colour schemes can range from vibrant to subtle depending on the particular specimen.

Urania Leilus (watercolour sketch)
Urania Leilus (watercolour sketch)

In some of my sketches the goal was to document the colours and patterns fairly accurately,

Butterfly - pink
Butterfly – pink

but in others, I  aimed to grab a quick essence of butterfly wings.

Urania Leilus in two styles (watercolour sketch)
Urania Leilus in two styles (watercolour sketch)

Or even juxtapose two styles in one creature. (The loose half is the winner in my view).

The shapes and colours of these glorious creatures constantly captivate us.  Great subjects for breaking a bit of painter’s block.

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3 thoughts on “Sketchbook: Butterfly study

    1. I think it’s probably partly the fact that I know it’s never going to be a complete painting. I find it quite relaxing to just dabble in the sketchbook.

  1. Vandy – wonderful butterflies…I too like the ones that capture just the essence of their wings. Hope your renovations will be soon finished and you will find more energy to create. In the meantime I will enjoy your sketches. Have a wonderful week.

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