Salty Watercolour Butterflies | Victoria Jeffery | Skillshare

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Salty Watercolour Butterflies

teacher avatar Victoria Jeffery, Artist and teacher

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Let's get started!

    • 3. Salty Bookmark Experiments

    • 4. Fluttering Salty Butterfly

    • 5. Salty Butterfly Trio with Negative Painting

    • 6. IMG 1344

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About This Class




Hello there!

Would you like to learn how to create striking backgrounds for your paintings with a couple of pinches of salt?  Join me to discover how to create amazing textures and patterns with your watercolours and this magical ingredient.

In this class we are going to learn how to intentionally create patterns and textures with our watercolours and different sorts of salt. Is one type better than another? We shall see... The process can be unpredictable, but that’s all part of the fun.

Throughout this class we will explore and experiment with table salt, rock salt, sea salt, and Himalayan pink salt to create fascinating textures with your paints. You will then create beautifully patterned backgrounds of your own.

I will guide you in painting bold butterflies onto your salty backgrounds. We will use two different methods to bring the butterflies to life, a drinking straw, and negative painting.

If you are new to watercolours this is a fun introduction to how versatile they can be. Or, if you are already familiar with watercolours this class is a great way to increase your painting vocabulary and pep up your practice.

Let’s make some watercolour magic!

Meet Your Teacher

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Victoria Jeffery

Artist and teacher


Welcome to my SkillShare page.

I’m Vicky, also known as Crobbles Watercolours. I am an artist and teacher with a passion for watercolours. 


I have been creative all my life, but love to paint and draw most. It makes me incredibly happy to share my knowledge and skills and be inspired by those I work with. 




I studied art and textiles to degree level. As a primary school teacher, I was responsible for art throughout the schools I taught in. I ran art clubs and even painted an enormous mural of childrens’ book characters. 

I taught life drawing and colour exploration at a holiday resort in Portugal.

I ran a highly successful art class for Home Educated child... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello, welcome to my Skillshare class. Salty butterflies. Creating an interesting or striking background can really enhance your paintings and it can be really simple. I'm going to show you how you can create striking backgrounds with just a few pinches of salt, your favorite watercolors. And a little time. Hello. My name is Vicki Jeffrey. I'm also known as crumbles watercolors. I live in the northwest of England with my family. We're all creative and we love to collaborate together. I recently rediscovered the joy of watercolors and they have become a passion. I studied art and textiles up to degree level and have always painted and drawn. In this class, we'll create two backgrounds for some very different butterfly paintings. You'll discover how simple and effective negative painting can be and also what fun you can have with a drinking straw. At the start of the class, we'll do a little experiment with a few different types of salt. Does it really make a difference what sort of salt you use? We'll find out together. And you might even be able to make some bookmarks like these. With your experiments. By the end of the class, you will have created two beautiful butterfly paintings where the butterflies are dynamic and taking flight across your paper. If you're new to watercolors, this is a great class to learn some simple techniques that help really effective. And you can have loads of fun too. They can be applied to all sorts of things in your other painting practice. Same goes if you're an experienced painter, lots of new techniques to try things to get you thinking and inspire you in your work. Come and join me, and we'll make some salty butterfly magic together. 2. Let's get started!: Welcome to the first lesson of this class. We're going to begin with a little experimentation in my previous class, which was creating patterns and textures with watercolors. We experimented with all sorts of different materials. In this class, we're just going to experiment with salt. I have four different sorts. And we're going to look and see if it really does make a difference. What sort of salt you use. I have table salt course, sea salt course, rock salt, and Himalayan pink salt. There's not very much of the Himalayan pink salt. As I had to bash up one of these big chunks of crystal to make something small enough for us to use on the watercolor. I've already prepared my paper. I've used masking tape to make long thin rectangles. That's because I'm going to turn these into bookmarks when they're finished like these. I'm using 100% cotton paper, which is cold pressed, so it's got a little bit of texture. It's nice and thick, so it'll make a good, sturdy bookmark. The paints I'm using, I've chosen specially because I know it has two pigments in it. This is imperial purple from Daniel Smith. The pigments in it. Our PV 19, which is quinacridone red, and PB 29, which is ultramarine violet. Don't worry if you haven't got paints like this, you can very easily mix up your own using two colors. You could make purple or green, whatever you fancy. What I'm hoping will happen is that when we add the salt to this paint, it will have an extra special effect because the pigments will disperse separately and we should get some real magic. I've got a large pointed round brush, which will cover the paint quickly. And any brush will do really just as long as you can get your paint on the paper. I'm going to mix up a puddle of paint and get sloshing. 3. Salty Bookmark Experiments: I've mixed up my puddle in this little Rankin. It's just a generous amount of pigment and plenty of water. I'm going to paint all four of my panels at the same time. I'm going to put plenty of paint on. And by the time I get to the end of my four panels, the first one should have started to dry a little. I'm doing that because on many of the videos I've seen of other people's experiments with salt. They say it's important to wait a little while until the paper has started to absorb some of the water from the paint, not using the salt when the paint is really fresh and very wet, that way you get the best effect you possibly can. So first of all, we add some table salt and just going to sprinkle it all over. Next, we have the course. Sea salt. These are much bigger crystals. And I'm going to add just a few more there. That's right. Plenty on to see what's happening. Next is the course rock salt. These crystals are very big, much more irregular in shape and size than the rest of the salts along there. And if we go, looks good. We've got a stray one off you go Keep. And therefore, the Himalayan pink salt. If I can get hold of it. There we go. Sprinkled button. This is very random. There are some very tiny speckles and some much larger lumps from where I had to break it up. Right. Now, we have to be patient. Leave it to dry and let it do its own thing and it will make magic. I'm going to make a brief, what are we? Okay, here we are. Our salt has certainly done some magical things. I'm really pleased with how these four have turned out. The pigments have separated. And I can see pink and blue and purple. The first one, which was the table salt, has made lots of different patterns. There are some very, very tiny little speckles and some larger starburst where the salt grains were all accumulated together. The course sea salt has made some very nice patterns too. Not as strong and not as many as the table salt. But I don't think I added as many grains as I did to the first one. The course. Rock salt has done an amazing job. It looks like little abstract flowers to me. I can see where the pink has really burst away from the blue. The Himalayan rock salt has made plenty of good patents two, and if I lift this grain, you can see the ultramarine blue has pooled underneath it and the pink has been pushed away. I'm going to use this palette knife to scrape the salt off my paper gently. You can use anything you've got to hand as long as it's got a smooth edge, even a plastic ruler. Some people keep their Salt. News it again for other paintings, it will have a little bit of pigment in it. So you have to be careful and store it somewhere, drive, but that doesn't matter. I usually keep mine in little pot and reuse it. You can see here that the pigment has really made some beautiful speckles. Yes, I'm very pleased with how these are looking. That's a sticky bit, might have yet. Just pull that off there. That's better. Here we go. Look at those lovely abstract flowers. That's going to make such a special bookmark. Okay? Make a little pile of salt. And as you can see, it's pink. So as we can see here, all for salts have had quite a dramatic effect on the paint. Not particularly different really. The larger grains, Yes, to the small grains, but other than that, they're all very effective. So my conclusion is, use what you've got as long as you've got some salt to hand, you don't have to go out and buy anything special. I'm going to use a combination for the painting of a butterfly we're going to do in the next lesson. And I'm going to use a little bit of table salt. And I'm going to use the coarse rock salt, right? Peel off the tape and reveal them in all their beauty. There we have it for abstract experimentations with different types of salt and they're really beautiful. Join me in the next lesson and we'll start painting our salty butterflies. 4. Fluttering Salty Butterfly: Here we are. As you can see, I've readily prepared my background, ready to paint our first salty butterflies. I'm going to share with you my favorite, preferred technique for transferring, drawing onto watercolor paper. It's one of many, many that you can use, and this is just mine. I prefer to it, it is quite faint. And if you're working for yourself and you get it as much in detail down on your paper as you need, then fine. You may have to strengthen this so that you can see it. But that's just for this lesson. I've found a lovely solid tail butterfly on Unsplash, which is a place where you can get free photographs, TAs. And I've traced it onto tracing paper. And I've used a for B pencil, nice and soft so that I can transfer easily onto my watercolor paper. I'm going to take, turn it over so that the graphite side is facing the watercolor paper. And I'm just going to tape it into place using some washi tape to stop it's slipping around. Then I'm going to use the side of my thumb to burnish the graphite onto the paper. This can take a couple of goes. You might have to repeat it a few times. And I have a little paper every now and again just to see how well it's looking. There we go. As you can see, I've transferred the image onto my paper. Now we can start painting. Painting time. I've decided to use Payne's gray to paint our butterfly. I've chosen this color because it's very intense and it won't take very much to give a really strong bold mark that will lift the butterfly up off the busy, busy background. I've already mixed some up in my palette here and made a puddle, put a little pigment in the bowl and added plenty of water. So we can start painting the butterfly with my size four brush. The first thing we're going to do is paint the butterfly itself, creating the outlines and the details. Then we'll add extra paint to create the rivets and make the butterfly look like it's flying. And we'll use a drinking straw for that. Here we go. Time-lapse time. To paint this butterfly. I'm using a very pointed round watercolor brush. If you've got a good points on your brush, you should be able to get all the fine details in. I have got a size to paint brush, which has got a very fine point just in case I want to go back in and tidy up some of the really fine details. I'm just going to swap to my very fine brush to add the butterflies, antennae and eyes. I'm going to leave the painting this way round so that I can add extra paint, the edges of the wings, use my drinking straw and create the rivets and Reynolds that make the butterfly look like it's flying. So I've got plenty of paint on my brush. And I'm just going to add it to the very dark edge of the wing. By dabbing the paint. Make sure you've got plenty of paint on. Get you drinking straw. And just like we did when we were children that primary school. I'm now going to repeat this process with the lower wing and create longer Reynolds. You can repeat this process several times if you want. You can let it dry and add small paint and do small burrowing. So here it is. First salty butterfly fluttering around on its patent background. In the next lesson, I'm going to show you how to paint a little collection of butterflies on another salty background with negative painting. 5. Salty Butterfly Trio with Negative Painting: For our second salty butterfly paintings, we're going to use a different technique than we did with the last one. I've got my background prepared. This is 100% cotton paper. Again, it's cold pressed, so it's got a little bit of texture. I used Payne's gray. Just Payne's gray with rock salt and regular table salt. I mean, as you can see that it had a very, very dramatic effect on this paper. We've got tiny little snowflake like patterns and also some enormous bursts where the water has dispersed away from the salt crystals. I'm going to be using Payne's gray paint again. I have a large size 12 round brush, a size four, and a very tiny triple 01 for painting antennae and things, got some clean water. I've also readily prepared my tracing of the same Swallowtail butterfly we used in the previous painting, but this one is a little bit smaller because I want to have more than one butterfly on this painting. I've kept the tracing, as you can see, very white underneath so you can see them better. I've kept him very simple this time. I haven't put in much in the way of details on the wings. This is because these are much more Impressionistic butterflies. And we're going to use the patterns of the salt to create the patents for the butterflies. I'm going to use the same burnishing method I used previously to get my drawing onto the background. So we turn it over and make sure that the pencil is Dan. And I'm just going to move him around a little to see where I think might be a good space. And here, reasonably central, I've got two goods, star bursts that would fit onto two wings. And he's an, a nice little dynamic angles. So I think I'm going to put my first butterfly here. Now, I've got my first butterfly in position here. I need to maneuver around the rest of the page and see what looks good through the tracing paper. I would really like to try and capture some of these little snowflake you like patterns on the wings. So let's see if we can find a good position over here for a second butterfly. Okay? It doesn't matter if the antenna over lap or even if our butterflies overlap. I'm going to put in there I think. So. There we go. I have two butterflies. I'm just gonna go ahead and position the third one. And we'll speed that up so that we can get on with our painting. So I've transferred my three butterflies onto the background. This is just my method of tracing. So if you're more comfortable doing it the traditional way where you, um, go over the back and then trace around with a pencil, that's fine. Or you could freehand your own butterflies. That whatever you feel comfortable with is a good way to go. Now, when we negative paint, what we do is we paint the things that aren't our subject. So we're going to be painting the background. We're going to be darkening it down and making the butterflies lift and pop off the page, almost giving them a three-dimensional look. Negative painting is used a lot in watercolor painting. You may not even realize you've been doing it. It's often used to preserve white areas or paler areas when second washes and layers are added to a painting. We're going to keep this really simple and it's going to be monochromatic. So I'm actually going to paint my butterflies and do the negative painting in the background with the same Payne's gray paint that I used to create the salty patterns. One thing we want to be very careful of is that we don't make it look like when outlining our butterflies. So when we start painting, I'm actually going to wet the areas first so that we get a soft graduation of paint rather than too hard an edge that looks like it's been outlined. I'm going to use my big brush and I'm going to wet all around the butterflies and the surrounding area around those. I'm using this larger brush because it's going to cover the area quickly. We don't want it to dry too quickly. And I'm also using it because it's got a nice point. And that means we can get into all the nooks and crannies of the wings. So I'm just bringing it up to the edge of this first butterfly. Because you've got a layer of paint already on your page. What you need to be careful of is that you don't scrubbing with your brush because that may lift. The paint below and disturb your patents that you've created, and we don't want that. So this is a gentle touch needed for this. And just getting the paper wet. I remember when I was learning about putting layers over the top of paintings, was I had a lesson with another teacher called Jane Davies. And she said You need to be a ferry in big boots. So you need to be brave. But you also need a delicate touch. I'm going to speed this bit up a little bit so that you can paint along at your own pace. Your butterflies may not be as complicated as these. And you may get, rent your paper quicker than I am. I'm using the light above to see where I've added water to. The paper is shiny. And Almost there. It won't matter if you miss a little bit. We can always add a little bit of extra clean water. And as we're only using one color, we won't be messing up our water. Back to the beginning of the first butterfly. Just go around the edges a little, spread it out a bit further. I think that'll do. Now if it's a gray. And keeping this quite watery netting, it's spread. Right? Taking it right up to the edges of the wings. This will dry lighter watercolors. I'm always look darker when they're wet. I think it's about 30 percent lighter when they dry, so plenty of paint on. And as you can see, these butterflies are already lifting out from the background. But a bit more than when we first started. Just looking around to see if I need to I've missed anything or need to get a bit closer. I think we're almost done with that. What we need to do is leave it to dry. So here we are about an hour later and it's all dry. The background is dry. This is our final lesson. And in this one, we will be adding the finishing touches to our butterflies, will be putting in some details, not many, but they will be details that will enhance our butterfly shape and give them a bit of life. I'm going to start over here and work my way across the page. Still with the Payne's gray paint. I've added a little bit more to my palette as I'd used most of it up during the background wash. And I've got freshwater. Now we want this paint to be reasonably thick so that it makes a good strong mark. I've got my reference photo handy because I want to see how to make these butterflies really pop and come alive. I'm not going to follow it slavishly. It's just to give me an indication of what works, where. And here I can see the top edge of the upper wings has a strong line. I've got the hairiness around the body here where there's a band of dark down the middle tube. Those are the things I'm going to add, but not much else. I'm going to start with this wing and work my way across. Adding this fine line for definition at the top will also help to tidy up any wobbles that I had from adding the background wash. I've done a line and what I'm going to do is put a little bit of clean water along the edge of it to let it soften. And what the line on the top to be strong. But I want this one to be soft. Blended in and up. And do the same on this wing, they're following the shape of the wing. Adding that little extra line there. It goes about halfway during the line along the edge here, making it wiggly. Where the upper wings are above the lower wings we want to create like a shadow. So I'm going to paint along this line here. Generous amount of paint. And again, some fresh water on my brush and touch the edge of it and let it bleed down into clean water and soften that edge a little bit more, a bit lower. That's it. Follow that line down. There we go. Same on the other side. You can see the paint dispersing into the freshwater making a graduation. While those are drying. I'm going to start the next one because I don't want to get my hand across this one and smudge anything while it's still wet. But this shouldn't take too long to dry because there's not that much water on the paper. So we'll go do the same process with this butterfly in the middle. Same for this one. I'm going to make it look like the upper wings are above the lower wings. And same for this little fellow over here. So we've already given our upper wings and more three-dimensional feel. Now we can do a little bit on the butterfly's body. I can come across to this one now while these are drying and work my way across again, for this, I'm going to use my fine brush, which is a triple 0. I'm going to put the details in like the eyes, the hairiness, random body, and going down the thorax and the antenna. We have compound eyes. So I'm doing little crisscrossing patterns on the the eyes and some strong curvy lines for the antenna. And they have little teardrop shaped. It's on the end. Have some hairy bits to form the body. And this bit segmented. So I'm going to do some lines across the middle. Here we go. It looks quite woolly. A few more in there just to get the texture looking good, I'm going to add the darker line down the middle name. Just keeping it loose. Gentle little strokes with the brush tapering towards the bottom. Now because this is the Swallowtail butterfly and the tail is very pale, as well as the lower wings are quite dramatic. I am actually going to add some details to the lower, lower wings as well. While these bits drying, before I go onto there, I shall do that. Back to my number 4 brush. I'm just giving an indication. Okay. You can hear stomping. That's my daughter upstairs. She think she's forgotten that we're filming. And just giving an indication of those lines. Yes. I think that one's done. Let's move on to the second one. Again. We'll do the eyes, an antenna, and hairy body. Adding the hair to the body during the segment since it goes down, keeping it loose and feathery so that it looks like the hair on the body. You don't have to paint butterflies for these. You can paint anything you like. You could do dragonflies, flowers, rabbits, whatever takes your fancy. This is a great technique for a striking picture of a subject that you really enjoy. Final lines. To finish this fellow off. And I have it. Our three salty butterflies. 6. IMG 1344: I hope you've enjoyed this class. Thank you for joining me. I'm really excited to see all your salty butterfly projects. Please take a snap and pop them in the projects below so we can all appreciate everybody's beautiful paintings. You can apply these techniques to all sorts of subjects, not just butterflies. You could paint birds, dragonflies, flowers, anything that takes your imagination. If you don't fancy butterflies, I'd love to see what else you can come up with. I hope you'll join me in my next class, where we'll use some of these techniques and a few more to create paintings like these magical mushrooms. They're not as hard as they look, and they have really good fun to do. Thank you.