The Butterfly Project

I am participating in a community project sponsored by the Rotary Club. It is a fabulous community service project to promote the arts in the schools. Because, let’s face it, the arts tend to be what gets cut whenever the funding axe shows up. The first 3 years of this annual project has raised over $100K for local schools. Is that fantastic or what? This is year 4 of the project. It is my first year participating, and I have been a little nervous about it. But I have tried to document the process and am willing to share it with you.

Of course the first step was submitting an application and art proposal for the butterfly.  And I waited until the last day possible to submit my entry, as I was going back and forth about whether or not I should do this. But I decided to jump in, and then nervously await the decision by the committee as to whether or not I was accepted. I knew everyone did not get accepted. The deadline for notification went by and I assumed I didn’t get in as there hadn’t been any notice sent. I sent an e-mail to the committee saying thanks for letting me try and that I would try again next year. I got an e-mail back saying I was in, they just hadn’t sent out the notifications yet! Woo hoo! But now I had to do it!!!! Yikes!

So off I went to pick up my butterfly and bring it home to be transformed.

Blank Butterfly Pieces

I put them on the floor of the den to look at for a while. I am like my dad, I have to think about things and analyze them for a while before I start working. Thinking is a fancy way of saying procrastinating. But since this was my first time I needed to study what I was doing and figure out what products I needed and how I was going to do it. I really did need to think a bit before I started.

Sanding the butterfly

The first step was to sand the finish off. Luckily that week the weather around here was pretty nice and I was able to take it out on the back patio to do. Used my sandpaper block and wore my face mask and sanded the finish.

Primer Coat

Then I moved the butterfly into the garage on some plastic for the next steps. First I cleaned the butterfly with a damp rag, and then also with rubbing alcohol to get fingerprints and such cleaned off. I let it dry and then I put 2 primer coats on the butterfly. This took a couple of days, as I had to let it dry between coats, but then also dry on one side before I flipped it over to do the other side.

Base Coat

Next I put a base coat of white paint on the butterfly. I know all this white, you can’t really even see that I am doing anything. But trust me, there was a lot of work involved to get it back to white. Maybe next year I’ll use some color. Again, I needed a couple of days to do this part as I needed to let one side dry completely before flipping over and doing the other side.

Next I was ready to move the butterfly back into the house to work on the rest of it. The garage is a bit too dark to really be able to see what I was doing. So into the dining room I went. Laid out some plastic and some paper on the table to protect it and placed the butterfly wings on it. We hardly ever use the dining room table to eat at, so I figured it would be OK for a couple of weeks. The light is good in there and the table is much easier to work at than on the floor of the garage.

Paper templates

I loosely created some paper templates to outline some basic shapes on each wing, so they would have some uniformity. I wasn’t very precise with the templates and didn’t try to make them exactly alike, just sort of alike. I didn’t want them to be perfect. I just drew lightly in pencil on the butterfly wings.

Pencil lines

Now I am finally ready to add some color! Of course, my butterfly is called “Zen in the Garden” and is going to be a  z e n t a n g l eâ inspired butterfly, so it is only black and white anyway. But I am ready for the next step. I’ve got my acrylic paint and the GAC 200 as an additive to allow for superior adhesion. I’ve got several paint brush sizes ready to go. I’ve thought about it long enough.



It already looks pretty cool I think. But the outlines are the easy part. Now on to the details. I really wanted to embrace the concept of Zentangles for this project. It is all about the flow of the work. You draw your strings and then you let your mind relax into the work. It sort of speaks to you. I knew I didn’t want to plan it all out, or use stencils to make more precise designs. I wanted to just flow. I wanted to take my time with it. So I did.

First side with Zentangles

This was the fun part. Drawing the Zentangles. I wanted them to be random and different. Using different widths of lines. All with a paintbrush. And of course, needing to let it dry in between so I could flip it over and do the other side. And then flip it back again, to go over all of the lines again to make them darker. Had to do that several times. Then going back and trying to clean up all the edges and the lines. Then starting to obsess over it. Starting to panick that it wasn’t going to be good enough (totally defeating the purpose of the Zentangling), not professional enough (most of the participants are professional artists). Thanks very much to my friend Cass for keeping me going and giving me encouragement and support.

Things I learned along the way. Drawing with a paintbrush is not the same as drawing with a pen or pencil. There is a steep learning curve when you haven’t painted for a while. It takes more time than you think. And no matter what you do, it is OK. The key is to just do it.

So enough worrying and obsessing and panicking! I loaded the butterfly pieces into the back of my car to take to Status Symbol Auto Body Shop to get clear coated.

The pieces in the back of my vehicle

The people at Status Symbol Auto Body were wonderful. They did a fantastic job and they were excited to do these butterflies as opposed to their usual cars and trucks.

Here I am with the completed Butterfly at the auto shop

Here I am picking the completed butterfly up at the auto shop. I felt like a proud mama.

Zen in the Garden

Then I loaded up my newly completed butterfly and dropped it off at Imagination Celebration in the Citadel Mall. It is done! Now they are in charge of it until the placement out into the city.

All of the butterflies will be on display around the city from June 11 to Sept 15. The list of where they all are will be posted on the Butterflies & Friends website soon so you can go visit them. I will take another photo of my butterfly once it is out on display. The auction of the butterflies will be Sept 17 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. You can check out more information on the Butterflies & Friends web site.

Here are a couple more photos of the butterfly. Hope you like it.


About Deb Prewitt

I am an aspiring artist. I love all things creative and enjoy the people around me who are artistic. I live in Colorado which is a great place to be. I enjoy lots of different things and plan on exploring those things in this blog.
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9 Responses to The Butterfly Project

  1. Teresa Brost says:

    Awesome Debbie…. you did a excellent job. Can’t wait to see it in person! & all the rest too. Teresa

  2. ahalifedesign says:

    Deb, your butterfly is exquisite, and what a wonderful project of which to be a part. I hope I’ll be able to view your butterfly and others. Kudos to you on a perfectly awesome job!
    P.S. Thinking is not always procrastination; some of the time it’s creative incubation.

    • lifeofdeb says:

      Thanks Laurie for the kudos. I am really glad I decided to do the project. And yes, I try to tell myself I need to be thinking for the creative process to work, but I’m pretty sure most of the time it is procrastination!

  3. Beautiful butterfly! Love it!

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