Watercolour Butterflies with Janet Edwards

Watching Janet Edwards, our watercolour tutor, painting these butterflies was totally mesmerising! She showed us her tips and tricks for creating colourful butterflies inspired by Iznik patterns.

If you want to have a go you will need:

  • Paper
  • Thin dark pen for outlines
  • Paint or colouring pencils (watercolour pencils are good if you have them)
  • Light box or a window – you can make a light box by putting a light in a box with a piece of clear glass or perspex (maybe from a picture frame) on top.


  • Map an outline shape of the butterfly wings (one side only)
  • Draw or trace some shapes that inspire you, from a book or online (try to use ones of a similar size/scale)
  • Using your light box (or window, or very thin paper) put the pattern shapes under your wing shape and build up a wing design using the different shapes you drew.
  • Think about the negative space and how to break it up from being a one colour background with your designs.
  • Fold your paper in half down the butterflies body to then trace the wings and patterns on the other side.
  • You can then trace the whole thing onto watercolour paper ready to colour.
  • Colour with gouache or watercolour paints.
  • Remember not to paint adjacent shapes at the same time of the colours will bleed and mix.

Butterfly by Janet Edwards

Inspired by mention of some pesky parrots wanting to help with embroidery, Susannah and Rosemary applied the idea to parrots!

Parrot, Rosemary Bangham

Heart by Jenny

Butterfly by Sarah

Butterfly by Catherine

Butterfly by Jenny

In process, butterfly by Janet Edwards

Parrot, Susannah Bangham

Butterfly by Jill, using cut pieces of painted paper

Beetle by Sarah

Butterfly by Claire

Butterfly experiments by Emily

Butterfly by Janet Edwards

Rosemary also tried patterning a beetle design with similar shapes.

Butterfly by Jill, using cut pieces of painted paper

Beetle by Sarah