Always wondering what to paint next, a niece helped me out by suggesting a butterfly. Butterflies probably sound easy to paint. Four wings and a body in the middle. Right? Well, they are not easy for me. I’m pretty sure I had never painted one before these. Butterflies are definitely beautiful and a favorite to watch, but for some reason, I am more of a dragonfly person when it comes to photographs and paintings. Perhaps because so many people do paint and photograph butterflies as I quickly found when turning to Google Images for inspiration and technical assistance. It was more than a bit overwhelming to see all of the different wing shapes, wing sizes, and colors. I did several sketches of wing shapes and sets and then prepared to paint. The “research” time was not included in the total time of each painting.
I ended up with three butterflies. To be completely honest, there was a fourth but it was so hideous I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it. I am not completely thrilled with any of them but they were the best I could do in the time I gave myself. The last two efforts took about eight minutes instead of five.
Here’s the first one. There was no paint drying time involved in this and I stayed within the five minutes limit for this one. Not too bad in retrospect but the perfectionist beast would not stop here. Couldn’t I do better? So, I tried another.
This is the second effort and first step before the paint dried. There was a great desire to go back and blend the paint better on this one after it dried but I sucked it up and let it stand.
The one below is after adding the body and wing veins. I used black ink for this step to produce the final 8-minute version. This one also left me desiring a better butterfly. So, try again.
Note: Actually, this one has kind of grown on me. It reminds me a bit of a fairy with giant wings. It makes me smile a bit even though it simultaneously makes me a little crazy because there are so many things wrong with it. Ha! See, that perfectionist beast is dying…albeit a slow death!
My third effort is probably my favorite. The color values are better and I used a wet-on-wet technique which I believe worked better with this subject. Butterflies are graceful and this technique seems to lend itself to graceful movement better than the other two. I also mixed the paint for the body instead of using a tube color (first effort) or ink (second effort) and I like the color and the way it flows nicely with the wing color. In retrospect, my thought is that this first step should have been the final step. Hindsight is helpful only for future planning.
Here is the final effort in which I added the veins with ink. It is not horrible but drawing lines in a hurry is not a good idea, as I should have learned from my second effort but I am sometimes slow to apply what I have already learned. Thomas Edison has nothing on me.
So, there you have them. Two eight-minute paintings and one five-minute painting. I learned a few things and perhaps you learned something also. If so, let me know. What I learned:
1. Sometimes your first try is, in actuality, not good enough. That doesn’t mean that you are a perfectionist it only means that you know that you are capable of doing better. So, go ahead and do better, if time permits. The time issue is a very real issue in learning to overcome perfectionism. Of what use is “perfect”, if you have missed your deadline?
2. Sometimes, you have done your best and should stop before you ruin it. Leave it for awhile and come back to it with fresh eyes. I already knew this from past mistakes but it seems to continue to be an issue, so I included it here. It just occurred to me that it might work to take a quick phone photo, print it out on plain paper and try to test your idea on the printout. If you don’t love it, forget it!
3. Plan better before you put paint to paper. Have a clear vision of what it is you want to paint and how the end result should look. Obviously, I did not have a clear vision or I would not have painted three very different butterflies. I would have painted three versions of the same butterfly.
4. Getting the color value is always important–even in a five-minute quick study painting. My favorite was the one that had the best color value.
Maybe dragonflies next or perhaps rabbits. Yes, I think a rabbit would be fun! I had a family of three plus a squirrel under the pear tree today. They are fun to watch. I will get started on a rabbit right away! See how inspired I am!
By the way, these were painted yesterday. I paint and the next day I post. Just so you know how that works. Not that it is really important. Anyway…until tomorrow.
2 thoughts on “Day Four Five Minute Self-Challenge Painting – Butterflies”
Well, my own favorite of your butterflies is the one you call the fairy. I think it's lovely, and the delicate black lines are perfect. I'm not sure if I'm a perfectionist-I think in my art I just don't know when to stop, and that's when I ruin it. But it seems you are making great progress in really studying the process, and then applying it to the stuff in yourself that you want to change-if that makes sense…You are really thinking about what you're doing, in other words.
It's so much fun to see what you're doing!
Debra, thank you for your comments. The “fairy” is growing on me. Each time I see it, I like it more. I'm glad you are enjoying this. I am too.