I admit it...I'm slightly obsessed with painting butterflies. The endless combinations of colors and patterns are mesmerizing. I initially chose butterflies as a subject to paint as part of my practice to develop skills around color washes and blending while sitting in my local coffee shop. Order a latte, break out my travel kit, and blissfully paint for an hour. It's a great way to warm up with no stress. Over time, I've developed easy tips to help capture the ephemeral beauty of these winged creatures.
Choosing a model - I have stacks of beautiful butterfly books and field guides to thumb through but don't forget to look in the garden or take photos on walks or hikes. Start with simple shapes, patterns and colors.
Draw a light pencil line down the center of the paper to help keep the wings centered and symmetrical. Keep sketching until the basic wing shapes and markings are pleasing.
Start with light color washes. I usually complete the right side first and then mirror the left side...that's just the way my brain works. I love blending and layering all the colors but knowing when to stop is key. Also, don't worry too much about perfection or exact symmetry. If you look closely, real butterflies have slight differences too.