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Painting: abstract apollo butterfly

I’m “upcycling” old, unfinished watercolour paintings by using the beautiful D’Arches paper as underpaintings for my current acrylic & mixed media work.









To begin, I coated some of the old painting with white gesso, then I used it as a place to lay excess paint while working on another piece (you can see the other piece propped up in the background). This gave me some strong shapes to work from…









I drew large free-form arcs in pencil, then began to define more shapes.









In this series I’m working on a few different pieces at a time, as I explore juxtaposing colour bars to depict moving colour.

















I created textures by scraping some of the wet paint with the end of a large nail.









I added some opaque colours: a warm off-white (“titan buff”), a black-ish purple that I mixed, Naples yellow and Stainless Steel (these are all Golden brand acrylic paints):









The final piece is below…
I think I might have taken it too far, but I was having a really good time painting and sometimes you just need to go for it… Looking back I think I prefer the looseness and sense of freedom when it was only partly finished.
What the heck – it’s only paint on paper and there’s plenty of that.


Apollo Butterfly

Mixed Media: 11.25″ x 15″
Acrylics (including Stainless Steel acrylic paint) and graphite on D’Arches watercolour paper.
© deb davies thorkelson

apollo – noun: a large butterfly which has creamy-white wings marked with black and red spots, found chiefly on the mountains of mainland Europe”.

IMAGE-ApolloButterflyThis photo of the Parnassius apollo butterfly is by Matt Rowlings:


7 replies »

  1. I love it. Fantastic. It’s so interesting to me to see your process. As a nature photographer, I find it inspiring that you can take what I see “as is” and translate it into a piece of art that captures the essence. Thanks.


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