Butterfly on Birch Bark

18 Aug

I just love the versatility of acrylic paints.  Only recently did I stop and notice all of the acrylic gels and mediums that are available and that offer so many different looks and textures.  Recently, I purchased a tube of modeling paste.  That stuff is fun to play with.  After toying with it a little, I decided it would make marvelous textures for tree bark in a painting.

And what bark is more unique and interesting than the bark of a birch tree?  I used a painting knife and applied the modeling paste to a canvas in long strokes.  I also made mottled textures by tapping the flat of the knife against the canvas, making the paste take on a different sort of texture.

Once that was done and the paste had dried, I painted the canvas to look like birch bark.  I used several references to get the colors and textures to look like bark.  I was going to call it done, but then decided to try for a three dimensional effect by making a curl of birch bark that was physically popping off the canvas.  This was a whim, but I tore a piece of strong, wavy paper from a pad in my studio and curled it as I wanted.  I then applied it to the canvas with acrylic gel, which is one of the most powerful adhesives I have ever used.  Once that had dried and the paper curl was stuck tight, I painted the curl to look like a fresh, peeling piece of birch bark.  I had such fun with the experiment.

…Even so, the piece felt a little bland.  It wasn’t quite finished.  So I began to scrounge around my studio for something more to add to it.  I found a pretty glass butterfly pendant from a necklace.  Perfect!  I removed it from the necklace and attached it to my painting with more acrylic gel.  It wanted to tip to the side, so I put the handles of two thin paintbrushes under the wings so the body would attach to the painting rather than a wing.  I was relieved when the gel dried to find my little glass butterfly perfectly balanced and glued to the canvas.

All in all, a lot of experimenting went into this painting, as well as a lot of learning.  I had a great time with it.  I hope you like looking at it as well as I enjoyed making it.

Butterfly on Birch Bark

-8×10 inch wrapped canvas.

-Acrylic modeling paste, gel, and paints, as well as found materials.

-Done with painting knives and various brushes.

Thank you for looking. 🙂


Posted by on August 18, 2012 in All Artwork, Paintings, Sculpture & Mixed Media



8 responses to “Butterfly on Birch Bark

  1. BreOfficialBlog

    August 18, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Beautiful Painting, I really like how you placed the Butterfly in the painting : )

    • Jenna

      August 18, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Thanks very much, Bree. It was fun to put the butterfly in the painting. Glad you like it. 🙂

  2. zorgor

    August 19, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Impressive! Sounds like it was loads of fun!

    • Jenna

      August 19, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      Thanks Zorgor. It sure was loads of fun! 🙂

  3. Judy

    August 19, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    you are so creative! I love what you did! The birch bark curl is so 3D cool and the butterfly pendant is a perfect addition to your lovely piece.
    I’ve never heard of those products, but it’s been a long time since I used any medium other than watercolor or ink. Now you’ve got me excited to try these! My studio is almost finished..maybe then I can indulge~ 😉

    • Jenna

      August 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Thank you for the very kind comments, Judy. It was a lot of fun to add some 3D pieces to this painting. I’d like to continue with this idea and consider a sort of sculpture on canvas. 🙂

      Happy new studio! What fun! A couple of years ago I got a fresh studio space and I loved every minute of designing it and now it has become a real haven for me. I hope your new studio space will inspire you in many ways. Oh, and those mediums for acrylics are the best! Check them out. 🙂 Thanks for the very nice words on this painting. So happy you like it!

  4. Inspired and pretty

    August 27, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    This painting is so unique and different from what I’m used to see here, it’s very beautiful. I cliked on the photos to see the details and you did a wonderful job at reproducing bark. The curl you made is perfect, it looks exactly like a real one. I’m amazed to see all the colours blended together in photo no.2 and 3, it’s superb ! I have always loved paintings using the knives techniques, it adds such dimension and drama to a painting. A very long time ago I took oil painting classes and I just loved painting with the spatula to accentuate details.
    It’s a wonderful painting, and the butterfly gives an impression of softness to the whole painting, lovely !

    • Jenna

      August 27, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      Thank you so much, Jocelyne! I’m so happy you like this painting. I’m glad you think the bark textures came out well. It was an interesting challenge, and I learned a lot. Learning is such a big part of art, so that really made this worth it.

      Isn’t it fun using knives to paint? You’re forced to loosen up your style and make a more spontaneous painting.

      Thanks again. I appreciate the comments. 🙂


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