Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Great Mormon and Orchid Tree

I've started a new commissioned botanical painting this week. This is the second one out of 3 or 5 (depending on how much time I'll have, but 3 at least). This time I decided to paint The Great Mormon (Papilio memnon) butterfly sitting on a flower of the Ochid Tree. I had a great pleasure to spot this butterfly while I was in Bali island in Indonesia last year. This butterfly was huge! It's wings were as big as my hands!
I took dozens of photos of course, because I knew that in the future I would paint it. And now I have this opportunity.

I asked people on entomology group for some additional information and I found out that this particular butterfly I spotted is a female form alcanor. Here's what I found on Wikipedia:

Female form alcanor:
  • Tailed. The sides of the abdomen are yellow.
  • Upperside forewing greyish brown with veins and streaks between them black. The cell is red at the base. There is a velvety black patch at the bases of veins 1 and 2 of the upperside forewing.
  • Upperside hindwing is black with part of the cell white. There are white streaks around it. The tornus is red with a large black spot. There is a row of red terminal spots between the vein.

It looked particularly beautiful with those magenta flowers of Orchid Tree, and I decided to paint it exactly the way how I saw it.

I started with the sketch of course. I added first pale washes on the petals of the flowers, and when they were dry I started adding more details. In my sketchbook I note down the colors I'm using. 


  1. Hi, could u tell me what sketchbook is good for botanical sketches/paintings ? I have been trying to find one with smooth/hotpress paper. But yet to find one. All I could find is a mixed-media journal.

    1. Hi Ma Baker! I'm sorry for the late reply! I'm using Stillman&Birn ZETA series sketchbook. It's also for mixed media, but I found it really good. It has the smooth HP surface and the most heavy paper I've seen in a sketchbook: 270 gsm.