Monarch Butterfly and Wildflowers

I’m delighted to welcome Lynne Henderson back with another painting – the second in the current series.

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The next painterly progression for me was driven by a need to convey plants in the wild with atmospheric backgrounds and for a little more spontaneity and originality than pure botanical painting. Cue my developmental sideline into flower painting.

For this I would use selected plants from hedgerows or my garden, begin pencil drawing one or two to get the habitat arrangement going, then paint the flowers and stems using the same building up of full tones as in botanical painting, adding others into the ‘field’ as it were as I went along. The background came after all the plants had been rendered. I wet section by section of the in-between areas, using the wet into wet watercolour technique, where a flush of blue into white creates a cloudy summer sky, or a darker green into a light green creates both the suggestion of more leaves or plants as well as that all-important depth. Some negative painting (painting around a certain shape, like a stem, with darker colour to make the left alone area pop out into a positive structure) finished off the painting.

It might seem a challenge to paint the background afterwards, but it really is a joy and my preferred way, rather than masking off everything first, which is not usually organic enough a process for me. And being a lover of detail, I relish the tidying up at the end!

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Watercolour on paper, 7 by 9 inches (a group composition of wildflowers in a meadow visited by a monarch butterfly)

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© HMH, 2021

4 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing, Hanne! I love butterflies, I wish we got more here, but I think we need to plant more butterfly-drawing plants! I’d have to look up what kind do well in the high desert and still attract the little critters.

  2. My pleasure, Debi! Butterflies are wonderful. It sounds like a good idea to get butterfly drawing plants. Buddleias should do the trick, but I’m not sure if they would thrive in the arid climate. Apparently, there are several variants so maybe there are some that would work.

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