To Catch a Tiger….

photo of a tiger swallowtail butterfly

As an anniversary treat, my husband and I spent our special day at the San Diego Botanic Garden (a must-visit if you are in the area) and then stopped off at the Butterfly Farms just down the road. I took a ton of photos that day, but one that jumped out as something I HAD to paint was this Western Tiger Swallowtail on a red Pentas Flower plant.

It started with laying in a ground layer of ephmera.
a white sketch on a dark purple background
I sponged deep purple and dark blue over the ephemera, then sketched the flowers in white chalk.
I painted the whole plant with white gesso, then started adding color to the leaves.
Then I colored in the flowers, noting that each petal is a triangle.
Starting to collage in the leaves
Then I started adding in painted paper glued onto the leaves and stems.
Process of making petals for collage
Then I started ripping petal pieces for each flower, careful to have a variety of shades of red. I figured there were more than 70 flowers with 5 petals each...that was a lot of ripping during our evening Dr. Who...
Closeup of petals
This is a closeup of the flowers and how the petals are arranged.
Finished flowers
Finally, the flowers were completed!
I painted a butterfly onto a piece of paper, cut it out and tried various options.
another view of flowers and a butterfly
I rearranged the butterfly several times before I found the right orientation.
another version of butterfly and flowers
This was the version that most people on Facebook voted for.
detail of butterfly collage
After deciding where to place the butterfly, I started gluing on the paper bits.
Finished painting of flowers and butterfly
And the piece is finally finished!

This was a very fun piece to do.  I am very fond of Swallowtail butterflies and the pentas flowers were a really fun challenge.  Using a cut-out of the butterfly element really gave me a chance to try out placement to see what worked best.  In the end, sticking close to the composition of the original photograph was the best option.


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