Monarch Butterfly on lilacs

Monarch butterfly watercolor


What creature speaks to me of well-being? A butterfly! If I’m going to paint a butterfly, I might as well contribute to my 100 monarchs project. I surfed the web and found


Excitement! I have a new paint tray! It is curated by local artist Josie Lewis. I love her bright colors and was delighted to discover that these paints are much more vibrant than the ones I’ve been using. I guess in this case, you get what you pay for. This set also allows me some room to mix colors, so it should give me unlimited options in hue.

As usual, I began with the pencil sketch and then started blocking in color. The darker orange came straight from the paint tray and everything beyond that was a mixing experiment. The most challenging project was to get black, but I comfort myself that the black I mix will be alive versus black from the old paint trays that lies dead on the page.

I have some limitations as far as brushwork because it’s hard for me to paint with just the tip of the brush. That made the lines of black in the wings wider than I would hope. During my last painting session, I decided not to defend the black on the edges of the wings because I feared that going over that area with my shaky head would lose the whites. I asked Cynthia Simms (my PCA and sometimes art collaborator) to paint the antenna for me.


  • I see that my “black” isn’t. If I were willing to do more layers, I would probably get it there, but I think it’s better to stop now.
  • I love color, which means I love these paints!
  • When I was thinking about the direction I would like my painting to go, I imagined reaching for something less realistic – kind of a marriage of abstract and figurative, with a dollop of pointillism. Once I faced the easel, I totally forgot about that. Next time?
  • What does this butterfly have to say about well-being? It’s spending it’s time in the sweetness of sunshine and lilacs. It doesn’t worry about whether it’s species is vanishing. It moves from flower to flower, following the road of beauty. Sounds like well-being to me. (I guess as preachers with bigger brains, I feel like we do have a responsibility to clean up our environmental act. Butterflies don’t inflict damage, so they are cleared of wrongdoing, unlike humans.)


Posted on

January 31, 2020

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