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Drawing a Passion Butterfly

I found this sweet little butterfly, that had lost its life, on the sidewalk by our home yesterday and brought it back to sketch.  It’s not always easy keeping up with my sketch journal, especially during the holiday season, but it’s rare to get the chance to examine a butterfly this closely.

The butterfly’s name is Gulf Fritillary and is often called a Passion Butterfly because its caterpillar loves the leaves of the passionflower.  Adult Gulf Fritillary enjoys pollinating Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia,) Coreopsis, and Purple Aster all of which we have growing wild, in abundance around our neighborhood.  I love learning about the critters that inhabit our area, and journaling about them helps me to get a better understanding of their nature.


Each of my journal entries begins with the date, time, temperature, location, and title.  I love looking back to prior years to see what’s happened on a particular day.


These are the tools I used for this project:

·       05 Micron pen in sanguine

·       05 Micron pen in black

·       Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil in dark cadmium orange

·       Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil in Burnt Sienna

·       CbC Sketch Journal


To begin drawing, I choose to start with a pen instead of a pencil because the pen requires that I be vigilant in my observations. There's no opportunity to erase and using a pen takes courage and a keen eye. Drawing the little body comes first, paying attention to its angle on the paper and getting a reference for where to insert the wings.


Examine the larger shapes of the specimen. The shapes of the wings are soft triangles. Draw the smaller, triangular front wing first attaching it to the body, then the long curve of the upper wing, and finally the outline of the back wing.  I realized that the upper back wing was not quite accurate in my drawing, but I was able to pull down two more lines to give it more width, which worked with the dark lines already within the wing.  Next, ink in the white spots and lines, then color the dark browns and oranges of the wing with colored pencils. Use a damp brush to blend the color.  Finishing, apply iridescent white paint to the spots or leave the white of the paper.  I made notes on my page of what I learned about the Passion Butterfly. See the step-by-step drawings below:



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