Oil Painting Project: How to Paint A Monarch Butterfly

art instruction oil painting supplies
Oil Painting Project: How to Paint A Monarch Butterfly

In this fun little weekly oil painting project, we are painting a beautifully detailed monarch butterfly.

What was challenging in this oil painting project?

Every oil painting has a challenge, whether it is the composition, technique, or color.  In this week's oil painting class, the challenge is working with complementary colors. 

What is the big deal about complementary colors? Well, let me ask a question:  

Have you experienced muddy colors?

Muddy colors are one of the biggest frustrations of many artists.  And the answer to avoiding muddy colors or creating them on purpose resides in understanding the color wheel and color theory.  So, let's discuss it for a minute.  There are 2 key pieces of information you need to avoid muddy colors:

  1.  You need a color wheel.  If you haven't already invested in a color wheel, do so now.  It will be your go-to tool.  Place it in a prominent place, here is the one I have.
  2. Understand the value of complementary colors.  

🎨🎨For more a high-level overview of 3 common color theories and you can paint your own color wheel, check out the class: Color Theory for Beginner Oil Painters. available to Positive Painter Online Artist Community available in Mini-Courses Section. 🎨🎨

What are Complementary Colors?

Complementary colors are colors from the opposite side of the color wheel.  This is very important to know for 4 reasons:  

  1. Avoid Muddy Colors.  When you mix complementary colors you can quickly gray your colors down, also referred to as muddy colors when created without a purpose.
  2. Control Vibrancy. When you mix complementary colors they tone the vibrancy down of the other color.  For example, add a little orange to green and you suddenly get a more natural green grass color.
  3. Control the Viewers's Eye.  Complementary colors, when placed next to each other, make the colors appear more vibrant and eye-catching.
  4. Create meaningful greys.  Complementary colors when mixed in terms of cools and warms will create grey tones that can be used to differentiate the foreground from the background.  Cool sets back, warm brings forward.  This is extremely useful when creating rock scenes or trying to differentiate a grey/whitish subject from its background.

Check out this short snippet from the oil painting project "How to paint a monarch butterfly" that explains the value of complementary colors.


You can take this oil painting course now when you join the Positive Painters


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