I’m going to start off by saying I used to be really bad at painting anything outside of my quite narrow areas of interest. I went through a phase where I was putting dragon wings on everything, for example, and only did fantasy or surrealism inspired art. I remember my roommate freshman year of college asking me to paint a picture of a teenage girl holding a cat surrounded by flowers after she found out I was an artist (She was the opposite of me, into all pastel cutesy stuff). Hence, this dead eyed girl and cat with guess what, dragon wings, was born. If I still had it, I’d consider submitting it to The Museum Of Bad Art.
Over the years and especially through teaching, I’ve learned to enjoy the process of creating itself and not just the end result, so that even if I’m making something that isn’t necessarily my go-to aesthetic, I can still harness the therapeutic benefits of creativity. This makes accepting commissions a lot easier, and creating art for loved ones that may not fancy surrealism and oddity as much as I do. I have literally never painted tulips in my life, but my mom loves them and while we were recently out walking remarked on the beauty of a particular variety planted at Dow Gardens. I hope you enjoy this visual walkthrough of the process!
I’m back with another mid-century modern spring illustrations tutorial! Moving on to my next teacup, today I’m doing butterflies. Similar to my last tutorial, you can create any of these designs the same way on paper with any drawing or painting materials you may have on hand. If painting on glass, keep in mind you will need multiple coats if you want solid coverage, but you may also like the transparency – it’s up to you. To keep your designs permanent, they need to be heated in a conventional oven. Put glass pieces in a cold oven, then set to 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and LEAVE the glass in the oven until completely cooled down.
For this design, you are going to start with 4 teardrop shapes for your butterfly wings. The top 2 should be tilted at a downward diagonal, and the bottom 2 at an upward diagonal. Try to smooth out your paint as flat and even as possible, spreading out any “globs”. I used a flat brush rather than a round, pointed brush to achieve more even coverage. For the flowers, add some upward facing bell or “cup” shapes at different heights. Once the orange dried on my butterfly wings, I chose to streak some yellow over as well with a smaller round brush.
Next, I added some accents over my solid shapes in white. I painted a smaller identical teardrop shape inside each of my wings. I also added an elongated almond shape to the top of each of my bells which will be the opening of each flower.
I also added the leaves by painting green teardrop shapes tilting diagonally upward centered under each of my flower heads. I dipped the opposite end of my paintbrush in paint and stamped dots down the center of each leaf as an added decoration.
The last addition after the leaves was a small orange diamond in between the bottom butterfly wings. This will start the body. The rest of the body will be added with line work.
Next, I added one more set of teardrop shapes inside the white on the wings in yellow. I also used a fine detail brush to add yellow stripes across the small diamond shape in between my wings.
Last is the line work that brings everything together and makes it pop. For this part, you can either use a black paint marker or a small detail brush with a pointed tip. Outline Your outer bell shape, white flower opening, and leaves. Add a line connecting the flower head to the leaves. To finish the flower, I then used the tip of my brush and a light touch, hardly pressing on the surface, to add 4 streaks radiating up from the base of the flower head. I also added 5-6 short lines inside each flower opening, and then used the opposite end of my brush to stamp tiny dots on the end of each of these lines on the inside of the flower. For the butterfly, I outlined each teardrop shape that make up the wings, as well as the small diamond shape.
The last detail was adding a line down the center of the wings, with two curved antennae branching off at the top.
It’s amazing what you can do with simple shapes! I will be doing 4 designs in all with different flowers and insects, check back for more! The final set will be available for sale in Express Yourself Artshop’s Virtual Gallery, an ongoing fundraiser for the arts and wellness program I direct.
Though he used oil paints, we stuck to a mix of acrylic and oil pastel to avoid the mess and because these materials are easier for beginning artists. In order to … Well, I don’t want to say “force” but yes, force ;), the students to try painting in more of an impressionist style rather I had them use circular foam brushes to apply paint rather than the traditional bristled brushes. They were shown how to quickly pound up and down with the foam brush to create the texture of foliage, how to lay it on its side and drag it across the surface to create short or long streaks, and how to simply use it as a stamp to create circular shapes. However, the favorite technique was double or triple loading their brush with different bright and dark colors and experimenting with how easily they could create the impression of light and natural blending with a simple stroke of their foam brush. Students that struggle with fine motor skills ended up preferring the foam brushes to using a regular paint brush.We looked up photos of local natural areas to use as inspiration for our paintings, and students then moved forward to create an “impression” of what they saw and how it made them feel. Some used natural colors, others, like some of Monet’s own work, either exaggerated the boldness of the colors or used different colors entirely.
Monet used a lot of bridges in his artwork, so many of the students chose scenes with bridges for their inspiration. We used oil pastels to draw the bridge over our scene at the end. Success!
This is another project that is great for all ages and abilities. Those with more advanced art skill can always add more detail, and working with creating the idea of a scene rather than trying to create an exact copy of an inspiration photo takes a lot of the pressure off and allows students to just enjoy playing with paint and experimenting with a new art style. Don’t be afraid to go try it for yourself! Happy creating :).
Behold! In progress photos from instagram (allisenoble)! It’s been quite a journey.
This piece was inspired first by the cockatoos. I then based the figure off of what I thought this bird’s matching human counterpart would look like. I wanted to use primarily pinks because pink is a color that is hardly ever found in serious art (i.e. not pretty-little-princess-time children’s picture books), and you know, it’s just light red so I don’t know what everyone is so afraid of ;). I used ink for the birds and branches, pencil for the figure’s face and hair, watercolor for the background, and accented in metallic silver acrylic. The figure is mysterious and enchanting. The word “enchantress” is often cast in a negative way, as either a fantasy villain or else scheming heart-breaker. The dictionary definition of an enchantress is a “charming, irresistible woman”. It goes on to give examples such as “dangerous, sexually exploits innocent men”. Oh really? [insert facepalm here]. A woman can be powerful and captivating, mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, without being discredited as somehow “untrustworthy” or “dangerous” because of her strengths. It’s all in how you use the power that you radiate. I wanted to show a softer, positive side to the descriptor as a beautiful, intelligent and thoughtful, creative soul that shines a light wherever she goes. Let me know what you think!