Red Admiral Butterfly Watercolor

Red Admiral Butterfly on a Leaf, watercolor painting by Leora Wenger
Red Admiral Butterfly on a Leaf, watercolor painting by Leora Wenger, 2014

Last year I went in search of birds and I found red admiral butterflies. This year I’ve photographed plenty of birds as I’ve been good about filling the bird feeder, but it has been sparse on butterflies. One of the advantages of art is you can re-create what you like in a watercolor.

This watercolor is inspired by an exercise in the book One Watercolor a Day by Veronica Lawlor in which you are supposed to paint a design, such as a butterfly, using masking fluid. After drawing your design in pencil on watercolor paper, you paint the masking fluid on the white paper first, then let it draw. Once it is draw (takes about fifteen minutes), you can paint on top of it and around it. When your paint dries, you can then carefully peel off the masking fluid (I used an eraser). You will now see the bright white of the paper. That’s the best way to get white in a watercolor painting: let the paper show through. I used masking fluid where you see veins of the leaves, white dots on the butterfly, and also for the orange areas. I painted in the orange after I peeled off the masking fluid.

I may try this exercise again with a different sort of design. Maybe I’ll look one up in a book – a castle might kind of interesting for example, or a dragon. Someone did a simple paintbrush with a variety of colors and got beautiful results. I originally thought of painting a bird, but it didn’t seem to lend itself well to a masking fluid project. I want something with different parts and pieces that can be separated with the white lines I create with the masking fluid.

Thank you to Michelle of Rambling Woods who helped me identify those red admiral butterflies last May. If you want to see what else I’ve been inspired to paint from nature, here is a red cardinal watercolor painting.

On a completely different note than a red admiral butterfly watercolor painting, here is a photograph of my daughter and my husband at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (I’m posting this so she can use it for a project in school, where the teacher said they can only use photos from Google Images (?!x!?)):
evil paro
My favorite part of the Metropolitan Museum is the American Wing. If you have been there, what is your favorite part? Do you have a favorite in another art museum?

Nature Notes: Butterflies and Mushroom

butterfly on goldenrod on Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock in the Berkshires has a lot of goldenrod on top of the mountain. And many happy butterflies are enjoying themselves.

butterfly bush at the Mount
We also visited The Mount in the Berkshires, where Edith Wharton lived for a while with her husband (before she divorced him) and his dogs. There is a pet cemetery near the garden that has lots of tidy flowers, many of which are butterfly-friendly, like this butterfly bush. The Whartons allowed their dogs to sit at their fancy dining table along with distinguished guests (is that natural? as this is Nature Notes).

Mount Greylock red mushroom
We saw this red mushroom besides the trail that we climbed to the top of Mount Greylock.

Nature Notes visits Cape May

We visited the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge this morning. My kids basically rushed through the whole trail walk, eager to be finish what their mom looked forward to viewing the most on our little vacation. But at least they were good sports about it. I would have enjoyed having you, my blog readers, there, so you could help me with photography tips and identifying the birds and the flowers. And just generally enjoying looking. Lots of beautiful scenery.

So, please raise your hand if you know what kind of butterfly this is. Please raise it even higher if you can name the pretty purple wildflower (to me it looks like purple ageratum). Stomp your feet on the ground if you like looking for butterflies. Or photographing wildflowers.


For more Nature Notes, please visit:
nature-note or Nature Notes

And now for a bit of Lewis Carroll (whole poem is here):

He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
A Penny-Postage Stamp.
‘You’d best be getting home,’ he said:
‘The nights are very damp!’