Monday, 6 April 2015

Day 2, only 28 remaining! Purple Emperor

Whilst feeling determined this morning I decided to tackle the Purple Emperor butterfly on vellum. I've been meaning to paint a sheet of butterflies for a long time now, so the 30 day challenge seems like a good opportunity to do at least some of it. It's not the easiest subject! the wings look a very drab brown until it catches the light, then they become the most incredible purple! So I decided to paint it .....sort of half brown and half purple because that's pretty much how it looks when it catches the light.

No 2 the Purple Emperor, Apatura iris (male). Painted on Kelmscott vellum. A rare and beautiful butterfly. A bit more work needed but it'll do for now 
I couldn't quite decide on the purple mix.... because it seems to change with the light. Looking at this now it seems a bit like yesterdays bulb colours!
 I tried the Daniel Smiths and the M Graham, but I don't find them so good on vellum, there's too much Gum Arabic and mixers for the really dry vellum work.... however I  decided to persevere and it was OK in the end with a few reservations, so  think it just needs a slightly different approach to the pans. The DS ultramarine violet and MG ultramarine blue gave a pretty punchy purple though, which was better than the W & N option, hence the perseverance. For the brown I reverted to W&N Van Dyke Brown with a touch of the purple mix added to it. Plus a spot of neutral tint for the darker markings.  There's a touch of orange in the markings too, so some pyroll orange and trans yellow was used for this. I think it needs to go a bit darker all over but I'll l come back to it later.

Not sure about these for vellum work.
 I'll probably do a few more butterflies on this sheet as part of the challenge. There's no particular purpose for this piece, I'm just doing it for fun. like all the 30 day challenge pieces, paint whatever appeals on the day with virtually no plan in mind.

I got carried away and almost forgot to take a photograph to show the process. You can see it's just a case of painting around the markings and then tidy up with a scalpel after. The dry brush gives a particularly good finish for butterfly wings. It starts of a bit scruffy looking but comes together in the end.

So here's the sheet with the first two butterflies now complete. I'm going to keep this painting to hang in my flat. Something that I don't often do is keep work.

The planned sheet of butterflies, I'm hoping to have about 20 species in total on this sheet.
 Last month I joined Butterfly Conservation and I been enjoying their news. It's a great organisation and doing a fantastic job! I always liked butterflies and studied them a little as part of a conservation module at university and also have this old butterfly collecion too, but finding out more about them recently has upped the interest....and of course they're such great subjects to paint.
I've no idea what tomorrow's challenge will be but it will have to be quick because it's back to work after the easter Bank hols!