Barbi’s Butterflies

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hi Everyone,

My friend Barbi, who would have turned 75 today, was an incredible human being. Through the years she became my ‘go-to’ person whenever I needed a sounding board. Barbi was one of the most intelligent, creative, passionate and opinionated people I have ever known. We shared a love of letters and late-night conversations, and until late last year when her health began a precipitous decline, we spoke several times a week. She was a constant source of information and inspiration, and I miss her more than I can say.

Barbi loved bright colors (especially purple), and as a thirty + year cancer survivor she was especially fond of butterflies. I thought that painting ‘rainbow butterflies’ would be a fitting way to honor Barbi on her birthday. Here are a few examples of what I did:


I could almost hear Barbi saying “Don’t forget to take step-by-step photos!”. Here are the steps you can use to create your own rainbow butterflies.

STEP 1: Pick your favorite butterfly and print it out on 90 lb watercolor paper USING A LASER PRINTER (because the ink in inkjet printers will run if you get it wet).


STEP 2: In the right wing of your butterfly, make marks with Sakura’s yellow, orange, pink & lavender Koi Coloring Brush pens. This technique works best if you apply the marks in rainbow order.


STEP 3: Use a water brush to blend the marker strokes together.


STEP 4: In the left wing of your butterfly, make marks with Sakura’s purple, blue, teal and green Koi Coloring Brush pens.


STEP 5: Use a water brush to blend the marker strokes together.


STEP 6: Use the colors that you put in the left wing to color around the right side of the butterfly.


STEP 7: Use the colors that you put in the right wing to color around the left side of the butterfly.


STEP 8: Starting with one of the ‘seams’, take your water brush and blend the colors together. Work in a clockwise motion until you get back to where you started. WP_20160628_01_18_46_Pro

Here is another example:


After painting the butterfly I used Sakura’s Gelly Roll Metallic and Stardust pens to add sparkle.


I even added some clear glitter into the background before using the water brush to blend the colors.


I’d love to see your version of Barbi’s butterflies. Please post what you do in our Zenspirations Create, Color, Pattern, Play Facebook Group:

Before signing off tonight I want to wish Color & Creativity Enthusiast Toni Popkin a very happy birthday this Thursday (June 30th). Toni, I’ll be posting your card next week.

Stay Zenspired,


19 thoughts on “Barbi’s Butterflies”

  1. Barbie sounds like she was a wonderful touchstone in your life. How precious to know that we will be seeing our loved ones once again, some day. I think that she would have loved the colorful butterflies.

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE these butterflies, your colors, your photos of the process, and your glowing tribute to Barbi. She indeed is greatly missed and would have enjoyed these so much.

  3. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing so much with us. Your talent is truly amazing! May God continue to bless you with all your creativity.

  4. OMG. We shared knowing a wonderful, intelligent and brilliant human being. She was my purple lady and I miss her so much. She was my guardian angel during my “journey”. Barbi was always there and encouraging. We also shared our love of letters and butterflies. Your butterflies are beautiful and Barbi would be thrilled for you. As a calligrapher I have always admired your works. Thank you for sharing

  5. Hi Joanne,
    Thank you so much for sharing these butterflies and the coloring technique. I haven’t seen these Koi brushes before and they are gorgeous. Have you used Wink of Stella brushes for glittering? I used some on a butterfly card I made last week and it was magical – so fun!

    My heart goes out to you in your loss and honoring your friend in such a lovely way.
    Blessings to you.

  6. Hi Joanne

    Thank you for the step by step instructions on coloring the butterfly. Barbi is looking down smiling at you for sharing it in the way she taught you. I already attempted one, posted it. Need much more practice but that’s ok.
    Thank you for the Birthday wishes as well my friend.

  7. How do we color the butterflies? I was not able to choose one – it only lets me save the whole thing as a png – is that right?

  8. I can’t wait to do these Joanne!!!! So beautiful just like you and all your stsff. Much love, Dee

  9. I am not able to print these or to choose one. Can someone help me with this. They are very small and blurry. What am I doing wrong?

  10. Dear Jo Anne,
    Thank you so much for the beautiful butterflies that you posted. They are just what I need to get going on my watercolors again. I stopped when my husband of almost 56 year died of a sudden hear attach two months ago. People like you have gotten me through the darkest times”.

    You also included me in your lovely “Donna” greeting on June 19.. Thank you again for doing that.

    Donna Simons
    Marco Island, Florida

  11. Like anyone who knew her, Barbi was the the person in all our lives who brought us hugs when we needed them, a shoulder to lean on and so much love. I too, miss her everyday. These are beautiful Joanne, I hope you know how ,Uchiha she would have loved them.

  12. Amazing as always Joanne, they are absolutely beautiful. Is there a file somewhere of these amazing butterflies to download?

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