The whole time I've been thinking about the butterflies! I really want to start the painting of a collection of British Butterflies on a single large sheet of vellum, but it has to wait because I need to finish off the Jade vine first. Monday seems like a good time to crack on with the vine, which left me with today to clean the desk and play about with the paints!
I've been looking at the iridescent paints on the Daniel Smith dot cards for a while and wondering what on earth to do with them, then it dawned on me that they would be perfect for some of the butterflies. So that's what I've been playing with this morning! Not sure whether it's a good idea or not.
|Male Chalkhill Blue Polyommatus coridon (Poda 1761) Watercolour on vellum|
|The beautiful iridescent paints on the Daniel Smith dot card|
|Close up of the wing showing the light catches the scales and hairs.|
A quick colour test on paper first was carried out in the Stillman & Birn sketchbook, scaled to x2 to make it easier. This allowed me to work out the drawing and vein patterns in the wings at a more manageable size. The colour will be different on vellum though as it's much more cream in colour. So I will have to make adjustments.
|Working out the drawing and colours in the sketchbook|
|Ready! The difference in colour of the sketchbook paper and the vellum is clear to see.|
|Early stages on vellum...hmmm didn't look so great!|
|Beginning to add the dark wing markings|
|Work in Progress, adding the iridescent paint.|
Heres a bit more about the Chalkhill Blue, Polyommatus coridon (Poda 1761):
This beautiful shimmering butterfly is found on chalk but also on limestone downland. It declined quite dramatically due to loss of habitat from the intensification of farming and although the species has recovered fairly well in numbers its distribution had reduced and so is still designated as a 'species of conservation concern' under the UK BAP ( Biodiversity Action Plan), with unfavourable weather patterns causing the distribution problems. Unfortunately changes in climate present butterflies with a challenge which is altering their distribution and chances of survival. The more specialised the butterfly, e.g. only one food plant, the more challenged they will be.
Distribution of the species follows the availability of the food plant, Horseshoe vetch, which is found only on the grasslands, so the species is pretty much only found in the south east of England. The Chalkhill blue butterflies can also be seen feeding on nectar from Birds foot trefoil, several thistles and self heal, amongst other plants.
There is strong dimorphism between male and female, she is a dark rich brown colour and although not so extravagant and shiny, she is equally beautiful, I hope to paint her too!
The female lays just a single egg on the foodplant. The larva is concealed at the base of the foodplant during the day and as is the case with other Lycaenid larvae, the Chalkhill Blue has a Newcomer's gland on the 7th segment which produces a honeydue secretionwhich attract ants. A mutualistic relationship is formed between the ants and the larva, which provides the ants with food and the larva protection against predators. Larvae are believed to produce vibrations and sounds that travel underground and communicate with the ants to advertise their sugar rich food source. This relationship is known as Myrmecophily and around 75% of Lycaenid's are believed to have such an association.
For more information on our butterflies, refer to
The State of Britain's Butterflies 2011
JNCC The Butterfly Red List for Great Britain
There is also an excellent site called UK Butterflies