Butterfly Paintings: Appreciating the beauty of butterflies

These butterfly paintings aspire to represent the awe-inspiring beauty and complexity of these wonderful creations.

Butterflies come in such a wide variety from the stunning Tiger Swallowtails, the marvelous Monarchs to the delicate Small Blues.

Art and nature blend beautifully with paintings in oils, watercolor, alkyds or casein.

Watercolor painting of the marvelous Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly by Carol MayMarvelous Tiger Swallowtail

Butterflies are such awesome creations. They range from very small, like a half to six inches or more.

The "Marvelous Tiger Swallowtail" butterfly is one of the large ones. They get up to five and half inches.

I love watching them fly. They don't flap their wings constantly like some of the smaller butterflies. They just seem to float on the breeze with an occasional flap. So pretty!


Beautiful paintings of butterflies by artist Carol MayPainted Lady

I don't know if this butterfly is a lady or not, but that's what it's called, a "Painted Lady".

They have somewhat of a hairy body, but they sport lovely patterns on their wings. They are not a large butterfly, only a couple of inches or more.

They are fairly numerous and found everywhere in the world where butterflies live, except for South America.

It's colors co-ordinates with this yellow daisy-type flower. Daisies are their favorite flowers.

Butterfly Paintings: where art meets nature

The Monarch Butterfly is one of my favorites. It's America's favorite butterfly, too. It has been the subject in several of my paintings over the years.

What amazes people is how these mighty Monarchs fly from the United States to Mexico and back again each spring. Actually, one butterfly does not make the long trip each year, but several generations emerge along the way to make the trip.

They know where to go and how to get back each year, even though they have never been there before. When they are migrating, they fly together in large groups.

Butterfly Paintings by Carol May, Monarch on Daisies done with watercolorsMonarch on Daisies

Daisies are my favorite flowers. What a joy it was doing a watercolor painting these two beauties together in "Monarch on Daisies".

Last year I had lots of Monarchs coming to the Butterfly Weed in my flower garden. The caterpillars ate their fill, metamorphosed and took off on their amazing journey.

It's amazing to see the large groups of them. It was a privilege to see large numbers of Monarchs in Mexico while they were migrating. How awesome!

Monarch butterflies truly are a wonder from God.


God's gift of a Monarch Butterfly on Liatris, oil paintingMonarch on Liatris

This butterfly painting of a "Monarch on Liatris" was done with oils. Liatris is a native wildflower in the eastern part of the United States. It is also known as Blazing Stars or Gayfeather.

Here in the Midwest, I include the colorful native Coneflowers (Echinacea) and Liatris in my flower garden. The cultivated varieties of Coneflowers bloom all summer long. They are always busy with butterflies and hummingbirds.

The butterflies and I both enjoy the flowers. Whenever possible, include some native flowers in your flower garden, so you can enjoy them, too.


Large Tree Nymphs on False Hydrangeas, watercolor painting by Carol MayLarge Tree Nymphs

When I see the awesome butterflies, it makes me want to paint more butterflies! 

Its lots of fun as well as educational to go to butterfly gardens. If you have a public butterfly garden near you, go for a visit and snap some photos for painting butterflies.

I saw these "Large Tree Nymphs" at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, Florida. They are from SE Asia and were feeding on the False Hydrangeas.

Butterflies inspire freedom. The background leaves in this painting are taking off in flight!

Let your imagination fly away as you enjoy the butterfly paintings.


Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly painting done with casein paint.Spicebush Swallowtails

Do you see the image of another butterfly in the background?

Painting butterflies keeps me on the lookout for new butterflies.

One day my husband and I saw a bunch of these butterflies on the Pickerel flowers beside the boat ramp. They were "Spicebush Swallowtails".

This painting was done with casein paints. I did a couple of different butterflies with casein. It's not my cup of tea, so I went back to my favorite mediums, watercolor or oil paints.

It's a special joy sharing these butterfly paintings with you!


Great Spangled Fritillary watercolor butterfly painting by Carol MayGreat Spangled Fritillaries

What more fun than painting butterflies and flowers together. These "Great Spangled Fritillaries" love all the colorful flowers.

Butterflies will frequent most any color of flowers, as long as they can get something to eat.

In Florida one of the most common butterflies is the Gulf Fritillary. Up here in the Midwest, I see the Great Spangled.


Mixed media Buckeye butterfly painting: Art by Carol MayBuckeye Butterfly

The "Buckeye Butterfly" is a dark colored butterfly with its big eye-spots. It is a frequent visitor to many yards.

There were on some of my white daisy Chrysanthemums. They made such a beautiful contrast that I wanted to do this butterfly painting.

Using my photos as reference I painted it with the mixed media method explained in the how-to pages.

This painting is on my favorite watercolor support, Aquabord. After the painting was thoroughly dry it was sprayed with a UV resistant coating that seals the watercolor paint.

Traditional watercolor paintings on paper have to be matted and framed under glass. This painting can be framed without any glass.

It is painted with the freedom of expression we feel when we see butterflies. This one of my favorite paintings of butterflies!


C-White-Peacock-and-DelphiniumWhite Peacock on Delphinium

The White Peacock Butterflies are beautiful with their muted colors. I fudged the colors just a bit to make an artist's painting instead a photograph.

This painting of the "White Peacock on Delphinium" flowers is on Aquabord. It's my favorite surface for painting watercolors. The blue flowers made a nice backdrop for the light-colored butterfly.

White Peacock Butterflies are quite common in the Caribbean and Central America.  In the United States they frequent South Florida and a few places in southern Texas.


Watercolor painting of a Red Admiral Butterfly by Carol MayRed Admiral Butterfly

I always keep my eyes out for butterflies. It was a privilege seeing the "Red Admiral Butterfly" a couple of times. Their color is stunning.

Both times I saw them on the ground among the leaves and grass. So, this one is painted with some fall leaves on the ground.

The colors of the fall leaves complement the beautiful red bands on the butterfly.


C--Fancy-Paints-butterflyFancy Paints

This butterfly with its colorful hind-wings makes it look like its wearing "Fancy Pants".

When I first saw some photos of this butterfly, Its colors looked like from a child's coloring book. But it was real, just waiting to be painted.

It was a joy doing this watercolor painting on Aquabord. It's a solid archival support that doesn't require stretching, matting or have to be framed under glass.


Watercolor painting of Sulphur Butterflies puddling.Sulphurs Puddling

This was a fun butterfly painting, too. It's sort of an abstract painting, basically a design.

You may have the privilege of seeing groups of butterflies congregated on wet soil. The wet soil allows minerals to go into solution.

The butterflies are getting the minerals from the soil. It's called puddling. Here is a group of "Sulphurs Puddling".

From the artist viewpoint notice the butterflies in the front are painted with sharp edges. The ones at the top of the painting have soft edges to make them appear farther away.

Get more tips on how to paint Butterfly Art.


Little Blue Butterflies in oil by painting artist Carol MayLittle Blues

We all enjoy the springtime after a long winter. My lilacs were blooming and when I walked across the lawn I saw these lovely little Spring Azure Butterflies.

The "Little Blues" were only about an inch wide.

Since the lilacs and the butterflies both showed up at the same time, I put them together in an oil painting.

It's a joy doing paintings of butterflies with their flowers!

Fine Art America makes prints from my original paintings

You may get prints on paper, wood, canvas or even metal.

They also have a variety of phone cases, notebooks, beach towels, etc. with my artwork on them.

You are sure to find something you would love in your home. They ship the artwork around the world.


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the wonders of butterflies

Hopefully, you are stirred within a new sense of wonder and appreciation for butterflies. Maybe you'll grab a paintbrush and capture them on your own butterfly paintings!

Explore more pages about painting art that celebrate the beauty and wonders of nature.

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