Butterfly Collage


So far for the course's first module we have created colour wheels from found and painted colours. We prepared coloured deli sheets painted with basic colours, created a spectrum of tints by mixing in white, and a batch of colour tones by mixing black with the set of colours. Butterfly and flower drawings were made from observation and by using numbers, and we created carbon copy butterfly drawings and textures using different mark making tools. The various techniques and processes used so far will inform the next process to create single butterfly collages.


Using the carbon copy butterfly drawings from yesterday's mini project, you will now create a butterfly collage combining painted deli colour sheets. You can create a number of collages consisting of single butterflies, the focus is on using the carbon drawings as method and template to create from.


For the first demo I used the butterfly carbon drawing as template to cut out a colour section for the butterfly wings in one colour, and a blue textured background, select from your painted deli papers. I use golden yellow and a textured shade of ultramarine and black rather than a solid colour. The butterfly carbon drawings in duplicate can be used for the collage as two semi transparent layers, the pencil drawing details are the main focus for this artwork.

Please note you are using the carbon copies of the original pencil drawing, not the actual pencil drawing!

Applying the deli paper drawing onto the watercolour paper to create a layered collage and applying translucent colour by brush are the aims for the first butterfly collage in this mini project. Make sure the watercolour paper is covered with an even layer of matte medium, add a few drops of water to get the medium to move easily around rather than become too sticky, but be careful not to make it too wet. See the live demo in the Facebook group where I explain this process as well.

The first step is to add the large coloured sections of the wings, to fit under the transparent deli paper with drawing details. once stuck down the drawn deli sheet follows. The blue background area is next, and the sections are cut smaller to make it easier to stick down. Remember to apply matte medium to the different deli paper layers as you create the collage. Once stuck down you are to apply with the fan brush a thin layer on top, and use a credit card to carefully scrape the medium onto the completed layer to remove excess medium. Hold the credit card at a 45 degree angle to avoid lifting the paper off.

The first collage is kept simple, with colour applied afterwards in thin layers, drops of colour are mixed with matte medium. The aim is to retain translucency and build up the colours gradually so I actually paint with matte medium and dip the paintbrush in the colour as it gets applied, I do not mix a load of colour and apply it. Use the paint very sparingly, you need only a very tiny amount. Painting with matte medium in this way is important, keeping the layers of paint and medium very thin is key. More detail can be added, but keep the colours limited and in harmony, and use the outlines created with the carbon paper as your guide.

For the second demo, more colours and layers are used. The butterfly wing carbon drawings are used as template for the large shape. To add to this, two colours, the same size as the butterfly drawing are cut out, these are both the same size as the template. I also use the template for the blue background, the butterfly will fit into this.

The colour sheets are now cut into smaller sections based on the carbon drawn lines copied from the template. See video for the demo.

By collaging sections, the butterfly becomes more colourful. Up to four layers of deli paper are used for this collage, make sure each colour adheres tightly onto the surface. The credit card is used to smooth down the matte medium after every application of matte medium. Once stuck down, black outlines are created with the dip pen and a fine brush.

Care is taken to emphasise the coloured sections of the wings. The aim of the second butterfly is to use colours from the sketchbook combination page, and to incorporate opaque and translucent colours in one collage. For inspiration use the colour combinations you created in the sketchbook. You can apply a thin layer of additional colour to deepen the intensity of the collaged sections, darken it, or help it to blend together.


Creating collages from the drawn deli sheets in combination with the coloured sheets are the objective of this project. Familiarising yourself with the processes of sticking down larger sections of paper using matte medium, and getting layers to fit snugly together using a simple template of the butterfly designs is important. Adding colour in transparent layers using matte medium, as well as linework using a dip pen and a fine brush are important processes to incorporate as we build up to the weekend assignment for the first module of this course.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour