I am preparing for another illustration for the Museums at Nigh 2016 event. This time I chose the beautiful Big Brother lily and the swallowtail butterfly. Both specimens are very interesting! I came across this lily a year ago while taking thousands of photos in my hometown. When I saw her, I was stunned. These were the largest lily flowers I have ever seen. What’s more, I smelled their fragrance a dozen or so meters away and I actually got to them by their smell. I made lots of photos. That’s what it looked like:

I knew straightaway that one day I would paint it. I’ve read that it can reach 2 meters high, and the flowers can be up to 35 cm in diameter. The ones I saw were about 1.5 meters high, and how big the flowers were it’s hard to judge, but they really were huge.


I am thinking what colors to use to paint the petals. They are not white, they have a lemon center, but the petals have a buttery color. I have to determine the composition. I decided to put a lily in the middle of the page with about a 15 cm stem with leaves. On one of the leaves I will put the butterfly caterpillar, and the butterfly on one of the buds. Wikipedia claims that the swallowtail is “considered one of the most beautiful insects, making it a valuable prey for collectors”. Interesting. I made a preliminary sketch on the tracing paper and transfered it onto watercolor paper.

Lily buds

I started painting from top, from the buds. There is a butterfly sittin on the one in the upper right. I don’t know yet whether it will be my next step or I will leave it for later. Probably I will leave it for later, because on the palettes I have mixtures of colors that I want to use for other parts of the lily. I am always surprised by the number of colors that can be found on such a simple object. I used yeellow, greens, blues, pinks, violets, and even Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 on my buds – the later coloris on my palette, but I didn’t think I would use it (actually I use it much more often than I thought I would).

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