Monday, June 14, 2010

Broken butterfly

The weekend was very hot and windy, an unsettling combination around these parts. One afternoon I walked downtown for an iced latte and on the way home I found a tiny, tattered, dead butterfly on the sidewalk at a busy intersection. I cupped it carefully in my hand and brought it home so I could draw it and discover what kind of butterfly it was. I was pleased that my sketches made it quite easy to identify, using Butterflies through Binoculars: The West by Jeffrey Glassberg, as Mylitta Crescent or Phyciodes mylitta, a fairly common butterfly of the western United States and Mexico. The length of the butterfly's body was 13 mm or 1/2 inch.

When I checked into flickr this morning I was delighted to see that, in southwest Florida, Elizabeth Smith had also painted a butterfly that she found, a Gulf fritillary.

I've been working out how to sketch with color when I'm out in the field. Having spent most of my life in a studio this has been an amazingly complex problem to solve! I sketched the underside of the butterfly with watercolor and the upperside with colored pencil. I liked both media for this project. The watercolor went on faster but is harder for me to work with quickly as it's been a difficult medium for me. The colored pencils were a bit slower but are easier for me to work with when I'm not in my comfort zone. I'm also looking forward to experimenting with using both together.


  1. What lovely drawings these are! Hard to believe you've had difficulty with any medium, but interesting to hear your plans for combining wet and dry colours.

  2. Really beautiful drawings, again with such texture and detail. I do enjoy the research you do into all your subjects Debbie - loved the damselfly post too!

  3. I can imagine holding this fragile insect in my own hands because you've made such a beautiful, sensitive drawing with such velvety texture, Debbie. Like Cathy, I really appreciate that yours is a journey of knowledge as well as beauty.

    And yes, most interested in your thoughts on combining wet and dry mediums.