Mr. Skipper

Detail Mr. Skipper in Pencil

A New Painting Is Envisioned

Mr. Skipper, The Butterfly, comes to life today in his first stage of becoming a portrait on canvas.

Mr. Skipper is a silver-spotted skipper that visited the pink lantana surrounding my mailbox one splendid summer day. I spied him floating on the air currents enjoying my flower-filled garden. I ducked inside to grab my camera and then was lucky to rediscover him happily investigating my front yard. I was fortunate to capture numerous pictures of him taking in the cool evening air and enjoying the nectar of lush pink flowers.

This beautiful butterfly was in no hurry to be on his way, so I continued snapping pictures. He obliged! He almost seemed to pose for his portrait! Mr. Skipper kept still as I angled for the opportunity to observe his beautiful wings and the silver and gold markings that give him his name. “Come closer” he seemed to beckon, and so I did, because a fine portrait painting deserves the best view of the subject!

I receive many inquiries about how I begin an oil painting and I am glad to share the early stages of this exciting butterfly portrait with you.

First, I begin by selecting my subject matter, often recorded in photographs that provide details. I then select a canvas size that I think will do the subject justice. In the case of Mr. Skipper’s portrait, I selected an 11×14 inch canvas. This allows me to paint him larger than life and include a number of the pink flowers that lured him to my garden.

Although the cotton canvas came pre-primed, I began by priming it with two coats of acrylic gesso and sanded in between the first and second coat. I tinted the second application of gesso with the hue raw umber (acrylic paint) to provide a subtle ground color that will enhance the cool tones of the palette.

After the gesso dried for a few days, I began my portrait by drawing my butterfly and his preferred flowers using a number six graphite pencil. My vision of Mr. Skipper’s portrait begins to take on its own life in this simple pencil drawing! I can now imagine all the beautiful colors of that summer evening once again! My excitement builds and the oil paints come out. I invite you back to see Mr. Skipper when his portrait is complete! It will be here for you, drying On the Easel, for all to enjoy!

Thank you for visiting with me in my Artist’s Journal On The Easel. I love sharing the beginning of today’s canvas currently On The Easel with you! (Article image is “detail drawing” from painting, canvas 11×14 inches).

Be well, Karen LaFontaine

To view beautiful nature inspired paintings, visit my online gallery today!

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