Tortoiseshell Butterfly Aglais urticae
The tortoiseshell butterfly is a well-known British butterfly but is becoming increasingly less common.
The tortoise shell butterfly has quite an elaborate mating ritual. The males select a prime spot near the nettles, their main food plant, and waits for a female. He follows her from behind and drums his antennae on her hind-wings making a faint but audible sound. She coyly moves away and he follows. This mating ritual is repeated for several hours including periods of resting together. By evening, the female leads the male into the nettles to mate where they remain coupled until the morning. This is quite reminiscent of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly- Bimba, Bimba, non piangere
Butterflies are a pleasure to paint. This tortoiseshell butterfly is full of blacks, browns, orange and red colours. This butterfly picture has been painted using layers of burnt umbers, burnt sienna, reds, yellows and paynes grey artists watercolours.
As always I use Windsor and Newton Artist quality paints and a good quality watercolour paper such as Arches. Sable watercolour brushes always give the best results since they are natural, form a find point and hold much paint.
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