Caterpillar and imago of swallowtail butterfly


I made a few color samples and finally decided to use Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 as the first, very diluted layer. I don’t use this color often, but I have noticed that it can be useful when painting butterflies or caterpillars. Some of them have unusual colors. What’s more, I still have to mix this color with yellow, because some of the greens that it creates are one of a kind.

I applied another laer of light green on top of the previous one. It is a mixture of Hansa Yellow Deep PY65 and Permanent Sap Green PG36 / PY110.

Another layer to deepen the colors and add first details.

And now my favorite part. I love it when almost all is ready and you can add the last details to complete everything. I used my tested and trusted black – a mixture of Perylene Green PBk31 + Pyrrol Crimson PR264. I changed the brush to a size 0 and started from the left side.

After applying all these beautiful spots, I worked a bit more on the shadows and greens and the caterpillar was ready.

I know that this caterpillar is bigger than it should be. But I did it on purpose. This is the third work which is suppose to refer to Maria Sibylla Merian’s artwork. So I did what she did in her paintings. She changed the proportions of butterflies, moths or caterpillars very often. This is very easy to notice especially in her book Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam, which is my main source to which I refer. You can find the digitized version of the book here.

This is how the whole painting looks like at the moment. Almost ready. Just a butterfly on the upper right lily bud and I will be able to celebrate a happy ending.


I can tell you one thing: if you want to practice patience and color mixing – paint a butterfly. These little insects are like a big puzzle. A large amount of details on the wings is an amazing lesson of patience. You can also practice you color mixing skills.

I started with Naples Yellow Deep PBr24. I use Winsor&Newton’s Naples Yellow, because it contains only one pigment – PBr24.

Other browns I used here are: Burnt Umber PBr7, Burnt Sienna PR101 and Gold Ocher PY42. I also had Ultramarine Blue PB29 aside to neutralize some browns.

My black was the same mix I used for the caterpillar: Perylene Green PBk31 + Pyrrol Crimson PR264.

In the lower parts I used Ultramarine Blue 29 + Cobalt Blue PB28 to paint the beautiful blue spots. The red spot was painted with Cadmium Scarlet PR108, a color that finally came in handy (I used it for the first time!). The body was complicated and there is a whole rainbow of colors. But the main colors are Naples Yellow Deep PBr24 and Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50.

A funny thing happened at the end (it was not funny at all, actually). At the beginning I painted three legs of the butterfly and thought it was ready. I took pictures and started writing this post. Then I realized that I forgot about three more legs. I painted them later.

Here is the final painting:

By |2018-08-27T04:08:25+00:0010 January 2016|Work in Progress|