Gouache Butterfly Studies

I really enjoyed the colour and details of birds as part of my #birdaday Instagram challenge, so butterflies seemed like a logical step as a subject to paint!  And there are sooooooooo many beautifully coloured, intricately detailed butterflies out there – Mother Nature blows my mind!! Just look at my Butterflies & Moths Pinterest board to see!

I am using gouache in these paintings, I really like the solid colour look and the ability to paint layers and it really pops on the black paper ! I am not completely sold on the matte/powedery finish, but I am sure framed it would be fine, and possibly more high end brands of paint might make a difference their too.

I went detail-crazy on these paintings, there must be hundreds (- if not a thousand!) dots between the last two paintings! Try as I might I can’t help myself 🙂

What do you enjoy painting?

Butterfly Asterope leprieuri philotima 2 july 2014

Gouache Butterfly – Asterope Leprieuri Philotima

Butterfly wing gouache study 3 July 2014

Butterfly wing gouache study

Butteryfly Mountain clouded yellow butterfly gouache 5 July 2014

Gouache Mountain Clouded Yellow Butterfly

Instagram Creative Challenge #abirdaday Review

31 days later and here we are – a full month of #abirdaday paintings and drawings complete!


Lets begin with my final image of the creative challenge – my favourite birdie the Stone Bush Curlew!

Stone Bush Curlew drawing

“Wooooooowoohoooo” says the curlewie! <3

This was such a good challenge! Looking at so many beautiful birds, seeing patterns in my work emerge and beginning to feel proud of what I was producing was a really great outcome.

The final collection of Instagram pics from #abirdaday

The final collection of Instagram pics from #abirdaday


1. Definitely need to continue setting creative challenges – since finishing I have hardly done any painting or drawing!

2. I {heart} detail. I need to embrace that.

3. At this early stage of learning and practising I am using the supplies I have, but I can really see the benefits of getting some good quality supplies and how I will be able to develop my artwork further with the proper tools. (start saving….!!!)

4. I loved the ease of taking photos on Instagram and not fussing too much about the quality – the point was to create and document. The only thing was that most of my photos were taken at night on my iphone 4, so combining the low light and my hand shakes, it made for some blurry photos when looking at the enlargements. I would love an iphone5, but I am really trying to reduce the waste I put into the world, so while I WANT a new phone, I dont need it. So I will continue with iphone for Instagram and get back on my DSLR document my favourite ones.

Take a look at the full collection and tell me which one is your favourite #abirdaday? 😀

instagram abirdaday creative challenge

~ Emily

Progress in my #abirdaday Instagram Creative Challenge

Half way through May and I am still up-to-date on my creative Instagram challenge #abirdaday !


I am kinda surprised at how easy it has been to do! I know in the past I suffered from major procrastination when I went to my art space and didn’t have a plan (hence the 7000+ pins!!!), knowing I have to just create one bird image has actually been really liberating.

The first 16 days of my #abirdaday bird painting + illustration Instagram creative challenge.

The first 16 days of my #abirdaday bird painting + illustration Instagram creative challenge.

I can already see my skills improving, especially when I look back at some of the birds I painted just a few months ago. the only downside is now that I am trying different mediums I am discovering all these new supplies I totally MUST HAVE. (Gouache, pastel pencils and some quality waterproof ink pens are already on the list…!)


1. Having structure is actually a good thing. It is often said that endless options can paralyses you from making a decision and I can definitely see setting some constraints actually helps me be more creative.

2. I have a small A5 watercolour book for the project and that helps to not be too daunted about filling a page. Despite all my efforts to paint large and free, it appears my natural tendency is to get caught up in adding all the details. Good to know!

3. Do not fall over on this challenge in the second half!!

 Have you set your self a creative challenge before? How did it go?


Drawing Mandalas

What are mandalas?

Black ink pen mandala

Turns out the internet has a whole lot of ideas of the definition of mandalas…

– comes from Sanskrit meaning “circle.”
– Sanskrit word meaning cosmogram or “world in harmony.
– Hindu and Buddhist symbolism that represents the universe
– circular designs symbolizing the notion that life is never ending
– a circle enclosing a square with a deity on each side that is used chiefly as an aid to meditation
– serves as a tool for guiding individuals along the path to enlightenment

So they are all variations on a theme symbolising the notion that life is never ending – the Circle of Life if you will! (cue Elton John)…. Not that the definition really matters anyway, since you can draw mandalas for whatever reason and have no inner meaning behind it if you want!

I discovered mandalas when search rock artwork (for my felted stones) and stumbled across the work of Maria Mercedes of MegaMerlina who paints mandalas on to flat beach rocks (check out her work, it’s stunning!) and I was so inspired that I tried my hand at them.

I tried some mandalas with watercolour pencil, but I like black best.

They are so easy to do, and are really good at covering small mistakes (which helps when you have hand shake like I do) – sometimes I will draw something a bit wonky, when you look at the bigger picture it all just fits together. 🙂 It is a very relaxing process just adding layer upon layer and when you take a step back a beautifully intricate pattern has emerged without you thinking about it’s design.

I tried some mandalas with watercolour pencil, but I like black best.

Last trip away I took a super small art journal and a pen, so when I got tired of reading magazines or if I was listening to a podcast I could just draw mandalas to happily pass the time. Great travel creative entertainment!


1. Use less pressure! I get so caught up in creating even lines that I dont realise I am gripping the pen so hard, then I finish a section and realise my arm is aching.

2. I would like to get some waterproof pens so I can add some watercolour in the white areas to give it some more colour and feeling.I have seen white pen on black paper and it looks awesome! Will have to try that too.

3. Use a circle template/marker. I try to do free hand up I have noticed that on the bottom right corner when drawing my circle the bottom right curve always gets very wonky. I might try a compass, but I have heard they leave a pin mark.

What do you draw that relaxes you?

~ Emily


Something new: Watercolour Birds

Since moving to this house, we have Kookaburras who come sit on our back fence, eagles and hawks swirling on the airstream above us and at the bottom of our hill is wetlands full of other feathered wonders. My mum gave me her old Birds of Australia illustrated book and now it’s official.

I am a bird nerd.

I am just in love with birds right now! So many colours, shapes and expressions out in the world and although I tired to capture it in my Rainbow Crow soft sculpture, I just couldn’t get the beauty of the details.


The magnificent Indian Roller, found right across Asia

The magnificent Indian Roller, found right across Asia

I am constantly drawn the the table of cheap art supplies outside newsagents, and not always being able to control my crafting urges, over the years I have ended up with various paint sets and brushes, including some tubes of watercolour paint. Which was awesome because on a whim, I painted this:

It was so much fun! I thought I would try a more single dimension version, but I couldn’t help filling in the details. It is not as much ‘watercolour style’, I think I ended up using some liquid paint because my collect of watercolour paint tubes might have been numerous, but none contained a light blue/aqua (Grrr).

Anyway, this got me started on a new path of painting. I really enjoy making soft toys, but they are so time intensive and much of the time is spent on the process with only a little on the creative element, so paintings more immediate results really appealed 🙂

Here are some more bird studies I have painted:

Two versions of the Splendid Fairy Wren and a freehand attempt at a Blue Tit!

Two versions of the Splendid Fairy Wren and a freehand attempt at a Blue Tit!

A Crested Satin Bird, Guianan Cock-on-the-Rock (!) and a watercolour pencil Cardinal

A Crested Satin Bird, Guianan Cock-on-the-Rock (!) and a watercolour pencil Cardinal


Here is my favourite so far, it’s a combination of watercolour paint and pencils:

The fabulously coloured European Bee Eater.

The fabulously coloured European Bee Eater.


Its been a steep learning curve with lots of mistakes as you can probably see! But I am really motivated to learn more about how to paint watercolour and how to apply it to birds.

1. I think I am probably trying to do them on too small a scale – I am working in a large 11×14″ sketch book but each bird only takes up a quarter of a page.

2. The sketchbook is just standard paper, not watercolour so the affects the outcome too. Once I get a little better I will upgrade to proper watercolour paper!

3. I have since found out that my acrylic brushes aren’t the same as watercolour brushes, so they are on my shopping list now too.

What kind of creatures are you drawn to create?

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