Free Demo: Paint a Butterfly with Sherry C. Nelson

In her latest book,  Painting Butterflies and Blooms, artist Sherry C. Nelson guides readers through more than 50 step-by-step demonstrations on how to paint butterflies, moths and flowers of all sizes, shapes and colors.                                                                        

step one

Butterfly: Use a no. 2 or 4 bright for all steps unless otherwise noted. On forewings, base darkest sections with Black + Raw Umber. Base medium values with White + Raw Umber. Add a fine line of Black + Raw Umber in the middle of the wing along the top of the gray, using the chisel. Near hindwing: Base darkest sections and medium values the same as on the forewings. Add a fine line of Black + Raw Umber in the middle of the wing around some of the white spots. Add a dark spot at base of wing near body. Base a little Black + Raw Umber behind the eye and where the wings connect to the body. Base blue on the head with French Ultramarine + White + a bit of Raw Umber. Base rest of body (except eye) with White.

Petals/Open Buds:
Base dark value within petals and pink buds using Alizarin Crimson+ Raw Sienna. Fill in rest of each petal and bud with the previous mix + White. Flowercenters: Base column with Alizarin Crimson + Raw Sienna.

Stems/Unopened Buds:
Base the dark values with Black + French Ultramarine + Sap Green. Base light values with previous mix + White.

step two

Far forewing and hindwing: Base wing margins
with White. Near forewing and hindwing: Base rest with
White. Body: Blend a little where the dark and light values
meet. Highlight top of blue head with a little White. Add
eye with Black. Thin a little White + Raw Umber and apply
antennae using no. 0 round.

Petals/Open Buds:
Blend where values meet on petals
and open buds, following the growth direction of the
petal in each area. As you blend, allow the chisel edge
to create a few streaks in each petal with the Alizarin
Crimson mix. Apply highlight with White. Flower centers:
Shade column with a bit of Raw Umber. Highlight column
with White. Base rest of center with White.

Stems/Unopened Buds:
Blend where values meet following
growth direction. Highlight with light green mix +
more White.

step three                                                                          

Butterfly: Divide all white margins on all
wings with Black section lines using no. 0
bright. Far forewing: With no. 0 round, add
dots of White in two rows on dark basecoat.
Near forewing and near hindwing: Highlight
gray areas with a bit of White. Divide white
areas into individual spots (square) with lines
of Black + Raw Umber, using the chisel edge
of a no. 0 bright. Stipple a little White on
the whitest sections or spots for highlighting.
Highlight white on margins with White.
Use slightly-thinned White to draw in legs.
Highlight legs with more White. Highlight
over eye with White. Using a no. 0 round, tip
antennae with White. Add row of tiny spaced
dots of thinned Black + Raw Umber down
length of each antenna.

Petals/Open Buds:
Blend highlights. Soften
streaks by patting with cheesecloth if desired.
Flower centers: Shade within star-shaped center
and within cluster of pollen at end of column
with a bit of White + French Ultramarine. With
 round brush, add White dots of pollen.
Stems/Unopened Buds:
Blend highlights with
growth direction. Detail with a few division
lines of light mix + White on unopened buds.

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