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Friday, February 24, 2012

How to Paint a Monarch Butterfly ...Pastel Demo

'Beauty Among Us' 11x14 pastel ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $175 paypal or check
Not only are butterflies beautiful they are often powerful symbols. Many cultures associate the butterfly with life, hope, change. They can also symbolize celebration and journeys. I have heard many stories of Monarch butterflies appear after the death of a loved one. I have had the privilege of painting this beautiful butterfly and would like to share some tips in how I bring them to life.

Diane Townsend Soft form Pastels 'Hot' Colors

I use several intense reds, oranges and yellows for the Monarch. For this painting I used Diane Townsend Soft Form pastels in the 'Hot' collection. Buy them HERE. These are wonderful pastels with rich, vibrant color. I will be reviewing them in a future post. Read on for my step by step demo:

A Monarch Butterfly Emerges

  1. (from top left) My reference photo and pre-selected pastels. I took this photo in the gardens outside of The Art Institute of Chicago. I like to choose the pastels before I start the painting to help me have color harmony. In this photo I haven't yet added my greens.
  2. My initial sketch. I am using LaCarte Pastel card. I love using LaCarte when I want to get more precise detail aling with softer last edges. I just find it to work well for me for animals. I don't really like to use it for landscapes. When I use LaCarte, I never do an underpainting. I just start right away with my softest pastels. The sketch is done lightly with a Nupastel. If you press too hard you will dent the paper. Also, LaCarte can't get wet!
  3. I begin by laying in all of my darkest values. I use about three layers of darks that are all the same value and lightly layer them. I used a dark burgundy, dark blue and Terry Ludwig Eggplant. I also used some dark purples in the flowers.
  4. Next I want to develop the background. I don't want to wait until the end or my butterfly night look like he was pasted on. I Put down several greens in big broad strokes.
  5. I continue with the background adding some dull oranges and brighter warmer greens. I add the orange because I wanted the background to relate to my butterfly.
  6. Time to add the oranges. I am building up to the brightest and most intense yellows and oranges. I start with a darker and duller red and red-orange.
  7. I need to tone down the oranges even more so I add some dull yellow green. I need these more neutral less exciting colors so my final oranges will really pop.
  8. Now it is time to start turning on the lights. I am using a warmer more intense yellow-orange rather than a lighter orange. I am also working on refining the background. At one point I had too much detail and spottiness in the background so I simplified it by scumbling a very light layer of green which helped to unify the busyness.
  9. Last thing I add is the white dots on the butterfly. I don't use white though. I use pale blue, lavender and yellow. Finished!
If you would like to learn more about LaCarte Pastel paper look for a review in my next post!

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