Painting # 25 52/52 Challenge


"Mosiac Butterfly – Colobura dirce"- Watercolor by MLighthipe ©2012

It is time for me to start thinking about going to Costa Rica in February of 2013. It seems weird that in the heat of the summer I should be thinking of the tropics….. It already feels like I am there! I like to do a painting every now and again from my sketches from Costa Rica and my butterfly specimens. This painting combines two elements, a heliconia flower and a butterfly. It seems like a "no-brainer" but with some careful considerations, it is easy to combine 2 elements together in a painting. Together they make the painting more interesting than if they were 2 separate paintings. Here are some things that must be considered when merging 2 elements together:

  • What is the size proportion in relationship to each element? For instance if the butterfly was too small or too large it would not look right on the flower. Each element should be true to scale as it occurs in real life, otherwise the composition will not be accurate.
  • Are both elements found in the same location? If you are trying to depict something that is found in nature you must be careful that each element is found in the same ecosystem. A flower that only grows in an upland would never have a butterfly land on it, if the butterfly only lived at sea level. Make sure they are from the same country etc.
  • When the elements are placed together, does each one look as if it is a natural pose? If you are not careful the elements can look awkward and stiff. You may have to manipulate a part of the structure of an angle to create grace and movement.
  • Do the colors of each element fight one another, create tension, or do they create interest or harmony? Color combinations can be tricky. Sometimes it is best to make a quick color sketch to make sure the color is going to work the way you want it to. I originally had a blue butterfly in the composition and I really didn't like how the blue and the red/orange were working together. It seemed garish, so I switched to a neutral color butterfly instead.

I hope these tips give you confidence to start adding and combining elements together in your paintings. You don't always have to paint exactly what you see in front of you. You can mix it up, add an element or two of surprise in your paintings.

Do you combine elements in your paintings?  I would love to hear how you do it.

If you are interested in learning more about painting from your travels……. join us this coming winter in Costa Rica. We would love to have you join us!