Once I had a dream where I was driving along, turning all these corners beyond my control. My art life has turned another corner lately, but unlike the dream I know that this change is influenced by blogging. The first time I saw this White Tree Nymph butterfly on Pensby et al's blog, its wings looked like a beautiful brides dress with a bold design. I could not get the wedding dress out of my head, so Scriptor graciously consented for me to to use his photo for the painting.
The design on the wings was so bold that I thought it would do better with a bigger 24 x 24 inch size canvas. Also, I liked to paint this one with the oil medium. Since white, is the sum of all colors, it reflects the colors that surround the white object.
It would be easier if I indicated the lines now, so I could easily adjust their position, if I needed to later. Then I let it dry for a few days
In the first session, I painted the wings with a slightly diluted Titanium white, so that the under painting still would shine through. The second session was spent on the background, using lemon yellow, olive green, with Terre verte with Payne gray for the leaves, and a little bit of a Phtalo blue sky color in a big sweeping diagonal brush stroke across the canvas.
First painting session
Next day when I looked at the painting, it seemed like the butterfly was suspended in air, not connected to anything, even though it was perched on a leaf.
This prompted me to use a flower as a lead-in to the scene, connecting the flower to the leaves as well as to the butterfly. I chose a white flower so that it would not take the attention away from the butterfly. Its position was risky, because it was so close to the right lower corner.
After the flower was painted, the scene looked somewhat stilted, so I wiped half of the paint away with my very important and most expensive tool for artists, paper towel (!), to blur the edges and to mix the colors, since the green underneath was still very wet. Painting with wet paint over or into another layer of wet paint is a technique I borrowed from painting with watercolor medium. This brought a light airy movement in the background.
Seond painting session
I left the leaves of the daisy very blurry to prevent this scene from becoming too "busy". Artists call this the "only say one thing with one painting" strategy. Following, I changed the angle of the flower since it looked like it was going to fall off the canvas. I made the heart smaller and the petals shorter.
Now, the butterfly looked flat and sketchy, while the background had more of a painterly flavor. The time has come to follow my own advise to others: Whatever style or approach you take, stick with it throughout the painting if you like it to be one flowing scene, otherwise it looks like a collage where things are cut and paste onto and over each other.
I made the lines bolder and added more color to the white. From a distance though, it still looks like a white butterfly. Voila, the White Tree Nymph Butterfly in all its beauty. This is the moment where I need to stop!!
24 x 24 Oil, St.Germain "Idea Leoconue"
Like to know what message comes across in this painting for you? It is not a trick question. My desire is to involve my readers in the painting process and ask your opinion or what the way the butterfly is painted, evokes?