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A Fun Way to Make Butterfly Symmetry Paintings

by Jean Van't Hul
May 29, 2018

Here’s an easy and fun way to make butterfly symmetry paintings with kids. Add drops of paint to one side of a paper butterfly, fold the other half over, rub with hands, then open to reveal a symmetrical butterfly painting!

Butterfly Symmetry Paintings

We all love symmetry painting, right? Kids love it. It’s easy, fun, and the result is unique every time. And I just love the amazing veins and lines that are produced in the paint as the papers are pulled back apart!

These symmetry paintings are also known by many other names. Some people call them inkblot prints, blotto painting or prints, smash art, smush art, squish painting, and more.

Butterfly Symmetry Painting and Regular Blotto Painting

Regardless of the name, what is more perfect for a symmetry art activity than butterflies?!

Butterflies are symmetrically shaped insects and their wings have symmetrical patterns so a symmetry painting activity like this makes sense for butterfly art.

That’s what we did last week when Daphne was home from school with a fever. We did some regular symmetry painting. And then I cut some simple butterflies from our paper so we could do some symmetrical butterfly art.

Butterfly Symmetry Paintings

They turned out beautifully!

Here’s a video I made showing the art activity in action…

And here are the materials and simple instructions for making your own symmetrical butterfly paintings….

Butterfly Symmetry Paintings



Cut out butterflies from paper

Step 1: Cut paper butterflies

First, you’ll want to cut your paper into a symmetrical butterfly shape. Fold your paper in half, then use the scissors to cut out a half butterfly, with the body along the fold. Open.

I cut mine out freehand, but you can use a template if you prefer. Just search google for “butterfly template“. There are lots!

Daphne Pouring and Mixing Paint Colors for Butterfly Symmetry Paintings

Step 2: Prepare paint

Pour small amounts of tempera paint into cups and add a spoon to each cup.

Paint colors ready for butterfly symmetry art project

Or, if you want to mix your own paint colors as Daphne did, mix and mix and mix some more until you have the perfect assortment of colors to create your butterfly paintings.

Butterfly symmetry painting with red, yellow, and blue paints

Step 3: Add Paint to Paper

Use the spoon to add drops of paint to one side of your butterfly paper.

Step 4: Fold Paper

Fold the other half of the paper over the paint drops to create a paint sandwich. Press, smush, and rub with your hands.

Butterfly symmetry painting with purple, green, and black

Step 5: Open the Butterfly Painting

Finally, open the paper to reveal your symmetrical butterfly painting!

Ours had a fair amount of paint on them, so we set them on art mats to dry.

Step 6: Repeat!

Repeat this mesmerizing art activity as many times as you like!

Variations and Ideas

  • Add details to your butterflies after the paint dries. For example, you could draw details or faces over the dry paint with markers. Or glue googly eyes on the faces.
  • You can also make regular symmetry paintings (on rectangular paper), then cut the butterflies out after the paintings dry. I don’t think that’s quite as exciting for kids as painting and revealing their symmetrical butterfly designs as they go, but it might be easier and a tad less messy.
  • Tack a kaleidoscope of butterflies onto the wall together (that’s what a group of butterflies is called!) or string them into a butterfly bunting.

More Butterfly Symmetry Painting Ideas

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Here's an easy and fun way to make butterfly symmetry paintings with kids. Click for the tutorial and more photos. #kidsart #artsandcrafts #kidsactivities #preschoolers #kidspainting #summer #butterflies

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