I have lived in East Africa and go back whenever I can. Although most people think of it as a safari destination to see lions, leopards and elephants, I find that it is the “smaller stuff” which can take really one’s breath away. The insects are amazing, and when the rains have brought out the butterflies, the velvety green of the forest showcases them like flying jewels. The Charaxes family (here illustrated) are strong flyers, mainly from Africa but there is one flying in Europe which is gorgeous. They prefer the forest canopy but they are encouraged down by fruit and even leopard scat.
The butterfly paintings are a technical challenge – even a small difference between left and right wings would look stand out as a glaring error. I use watercolour in a very heavy way – with apricot-tree sap to make the paint look thick and glossy. A butterfly commission this size (8 by 12 inches) is time-consuming and expensive, about £2,500, but other insects involve less work when I do not have to worry about so much symmetry.