Tag Archives: step by step butterfly

Let’s Paint a Butterfly

This post and painting is dedicated to my beloved friend and artist companion, Sharon, who was taken away too early in life today, 07-26-2010. She always encouraged me in my art adventures and was one of my best cheerleaders.

Sharon also had incredible talent in art but had trouble finding time to settle down and paint. You may remember last December when I issued a ticket to a friend who was not practicing. That was Sharon and we had a good laugh. She did serve her ticket by the way, she came over and we painted and had lunch together. I will cherish those memories forever.

Sharon was the friend from work who brough me autumn leaves from her neighbor’s tree because she knew that I am insane for autumn and love colored leaves. She always put others before herself and constantly thought of ways to make their life better. I will miss her unending optimistic character and bubbly personality. Working 9 hours a day together, we became family, seeing each other more that we saw our own families at home. We had no idea she was sick until it was too late.

I take comfort in knowing she is in heaven and is seeing colors that we have never seen and cannot even describe. I hope she is using them in her paintings…I can’t wait to see them. [tears]

So, let’s never slow down with our talents and keep on painting and learn how to paint the question mark butterfly…


Here is our reference photo, a question mark butterfly at Papoose Lake in May 2010. How can you tell a question mark butterfly from a comma butterfly? Look at the right wing near the top, there is a marking that looks like a little dash – that’s a question mark marking. The comma does not have this mark.


Step 1: Make a sketch. I am using pencil on cold press watercolor paper.


Step 2: Mask out a thin outline at the tip of the wings using masking fluid, let dry. Paint the top half of the butterfly cad. yellow, the middle light red, and the bottom sepia. I let the colors touch and blend together, that’s OK. Let dry.


Step 3: Paint the body using sap green and a tiny bit of the light red mixture so that the green is not too saturated.


Step 4: When every thing is dry paint spots using sepia and maybe a touch of red. Don’t worry about being perfect with your spots.


Step 5: Continue to make more spots and cover thicker portions of the lower wings with sepia.


Step 6: Wet the background and paint a free splotchy background. I chose different shades of purple by mixing alizarin and cobalt. Purple represents passion and I thought it was fitting for the theme.


Step 7 Final: When everything is dry, remove the masking fluid from around the wings and clean the edges by using a clean wet brush. Outline with micron pen if you choose.

“Sharon, Be Free”

The original painting is a gift to Sharon’s sister. Her sister who has incredible sorrow also has incredible medical dept as Sharon did not have health insurance.
High quality, acid free prints of this painting is available on Fine Art America. 100% of the proceeds made from this print will forever go to Sharon’s sister to help pay for medical expenses.

Art Prints

Thank you.