All of a Flutter: Drawing (sleepy) Living Creatures

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Yesterday I was doing the usual thing – trying to listen to my younger daughter tell me in her adorable way all the things she got up to at school, whilst at the same time getting bits of work done – and succeeding in doing neither particularly well. Then this butterfly woke up from its winter nap: I’d seen it many times, upside down on the ceiling of the cloakroom. It landed on my messy piles of paper under a lamp, where I suppose it liked the light and heat. It looked a bit groggy, so myself and my little girl dissolved some golden syrup in a honey jar lid. It would have been honey, except that the jar had been knocked off the countertop an hour earlier, and all that remained was the lid.

We watched as the butterfly approached the lid…and turned away…then went back, uncurled its long tongue (proboscis, I know) and poked it into the sweet solution. We were really excited and I called my son, who is always thrilled to have a distraction from his homework. I also told my teenage daughter, but she was watching far more interesting things on a tiny, flickering screen, and had no interest. Then the poor butterfly got what I can only assume was a sugar rush, flying like a maniac all over the place, eventually staying still long enough for me to get sketching a butterfly.

“Oh no, what have I done?” I said. “He’s got lots of energy and is looking for a lady now.”
“Don’t be so gross,” said the uninterested teenager, as anything her dad or I say in “that” vein is disgusting.
“Maybe it’s looking for a boy butterfly,” said my husband, “maybe it’s a girl.” That didn’t go down any better.
The butterfly is sleeping it off somewhere today. I told the kids in my art class to draw a live animal for their homework – there are lots of cows, sheep and horses to draw around here, not to mention cats, dogs, chickens and fish.
I wonder if any of them will have drawn an insect?

Róisín Curé


Art Materials I Use and Can Recommend

My favourite watercolours are made by Schmincke. I use a very small set when I am on the move, or this set of 24, which is available to buy here from Utrecht Art Supplies (in the US):-


Set of 24

Set of 24

or in the UK and EU :-

Jackson’s Art Supplies
Schmincke : Horadam Watercolour : Metal Set : 12 Half Pans

I also use Escoda Versatil brushes (available from Dick Blick in the US) :-


Escoda Versatil Brushes

Escoda Versatil Brushes

or from Jackson’s in the UK and EU :-

Escoda : VERSATIL Kolinsky Synthetic : Series 1540 : # 8

There are three pens I always use. The first is the Platinum Carbon pen, which can be used with cartridges or a converter. A converter is useful when you are choosing your own ink. The Platinum has never let me down: they tell you to use it every couple of days to avoid clogging, but I have left it longer than that and I have never had a problem in many years of use. It is also very reasonably priced and is available to buy from Amazon :-

The second pen I am never without is the Kuretake Brush Pen. I always use waterproof Platinum Carbon ink cartridges in my brush pen. This is available to buy here from Dick Blick in the US :-


Kuretake Brush Pen

Kuretake Brush Pen

or from Jackson’s in the UK and EU :-

Kuretake : Bimoji Fude Pen : Black Medium BRUSH : Maroon pack XT5-10

The third pen I really enjoy using is more expensive, but I chose it for its flexible steel nib, which gives a lovely variable line thickness. It’s the Namiki Falcon and is available here from Amazon :-

I find that grey ink gives a softer line than black – it’s more like a pencil line – and I always make sure at least one of my fountain pens contains grey ink. I use Lexington Gray by Noodler’s, which is waterproof when dry, also from Amazon :-

I use various types of watercolour paper, but one I come back to a lot is by Langton, available here from Dick Blick :-


Daler-Rowney Langton Prestige Watercolor Blocks

Daler-Rowney Langton Prestige Watercolor Blocks

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