I started my second botanical project this week. This time I decided to paint a great mormon (Papilio memnon) sitting on the orchid tree. I had the incredible pleasure of watching this butterfly in its natural environment while staying in Bali, Indonesia last year. The butterfly was enormous, it had wings the size of my hands! Of course, I took bilions of photos, because I knew I would want to paint it one day. And I have the opportunity.

In the entomology group I asked for identification and found out that it is a female adult insect, a form called alcanor.

Flowers of the orchid tree

I started with a sketch. I applied the first pale layers on the petals using mainly Permanent Rose PV19 and Quinacridone Magenta PR122. After the first layers have dried, I started to add more details. In my sketchbook I noted the colors I used.


The leaves were a small challenge, because their venation was complicated and required a lot of precision. Firstly, I applied the lightest colors. In this case, it was the color of the veins. Then I added darker layers around the veins, creating characteristic tiles on the leaves. I added another, darker layers, and at the very end when everything was well dried up I applied a layer of glaze to unify everything.

A caterpillar, a chrysalis and an adult insect

I left the insect at various stages of development for the end. I painted a chrysalis, then a caterpillar, and at the end I left two butterflies.

The final result looks like this:


I managed to record a short video showing how I was painting the butterfly.