Ladybird Out of Bounds

Yesterday I drew a topographic map of the tonal values shown in my photograph of a ladybug (aka ladybird). I wanted to accurately portray the patterns reflected on its back. This paint-by-the-numbers technique didn’t work for me.

Today’s watercolor experiment:


Today I did not paint by the numbers. Pencil never touched my paper. I started with the swoop of a brush to apply red to an entire sweep of the beetle’s back.  The paper I used  today (9×12″), was much larger than yesterday’s (6×6″). This gave me the opportunity to; 1) use a larger brush; 2) have more space to maneuver; 3) allow the colors to mix over a larger area.

These are the colors I used: Winsor red; quinacridone purple; lemon yellow; perinone orange; Sennelier red; Payne’s gray and lamp black.

I made sure that I left an expanse of paper white available to portray the brightest areas of reflection. After painting the darkest areas with quinacridone purple and drying it thoroughly, I glazed the non-white areas with Senellier red, a transparent pigment. I used perinone orange on the upper margin of the beetle, and it’s tail.

I painted the head with black paint with touches of Payne’s gray.

Watercolor: Ladybird Insect Done without Sketch

Ladybird Out of Bounds
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I felt much more freedom in today’s approach than painting within the lines. In my exuberance, I didn’t plan too well and found that my inveterate invertebrate was crowded to one edge of the paper. I didn’t do justice to the fuzzy leaf on which it rested either, painting it in inverse (green lines instead of white lines, white background instead of green).

I do love painting outside the boundaries, setting guidelines (with light pencil lines), but feeling no obligation to stay within them.

I only wish that the subject of my painting in this case, was a teeny bit more within the bounds of the paper.

2 thoughts on “Ladybird Out of Bounds

  1. Well that’s interesting. Ladybird out of bounds doesn’t have the lit quality that I particularly liked on Ladybird. But that wouldn’t be because of the absence of numbers would it?


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