Painting Demo: Butterflies and flowers in oils

Sherry Nelson, best known for her paintings of birds and flowers, now turns her attention to the fascinating world of butterflies. Her newest North Light book, Painting Butterflies & Blooms with Sherry C. Nelson is a meticulously researched guide to painting butterflies and the flowers that are either their food source or are found in their native habitat. Each of the 54 demonstrations includes a reference photo, color mix chart, line drawing and step-by-step photos and instructions. Sherry says: “The sheer diversity and variety of butterflies and moths is endless. Colors and patterns are extraordinary, a treasure for the artist to explore.”

California Tortoiseshell Butterfly and Coastal Blue Blossom
Step 1
Butterfly:  Use a no. 2 or 4 bright brush for all steps unless otherwise noted. Base the white sections with White. Base the yellow sections with Cadmium Yellow Pale + White. Base the orange sections with Cadmium Yellow Pale + Winsor Red. Base the reddest sections with Winsor Red + Cadmium Yellow Pale. Base the inner dark sections with Burnt Sienna + Raw Umber. Base the dark value on the body with Burnt Sienna + Raw Umber.
Flowers:  Base the flowers with a dry scruffy mix of Alizarin Crimson + French Ultramarine + Raw Sienna, leaving edges fuzzy.
Leaves and Stems:  Base the dark values with Black + Sap Green. Base the light values with Sap Green + Raw Sienna + White.

Step 2
Butterfly: Blend with the growth direction between colors on sections to gradate the values. Leave white isolated from other colors. Base the rest of the wing with an equal mix of Black + Raw Umber. Base the rest of the body with the dirty brush + White. Blend between values to soften. Thin a little Raw Umber and apply the antennae with a no. 0 round brush.
Flowers: Using a no. 0 bright brush with French Ultramarine + White, lay in the tiny petal strokes in the darkest shadow areas. Then using the previous mix + White, lay in the petals in the outer, light value areas of the cluster. Let the background darks show through and between the lighter petals for depth.
Leaves and Stems: Where values meet, blend with the growth direction. Apply highlights with light green mix + White.

Step 3
Butterfly: Accent the base of the hind wings with White + Raw Umber, blending toward the trailing edge and leaving chisel lines showing. Use Raw Umber to divide red and orange areas, tapping in lines with the chisel edge to create sections. Add margin markings and spots on the hind wings using a no. 0 round brush and White. Shade the body if needed with a bit of Black. With a no. 0 round brush, draw faint dirty White lines across the abdomen to suggest segments. Tip the  antennae with a bit of dirty Cadmium Yellow Pale + Winsor Red.
Flowers: Add White highlight strokes with a no. 0 bright where needed. Add center dots of Cadmium Yellow Pale + White to connect some of the petals.
Leaves and Stems: Blend highlights softly into leaves and stems, following the growth direction. Add the central vein with a light value green mix using chisel edge. Accent the leaves with a bit of the flower basecoat mix + more Raw Sienna.

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