Saturday Art Challenge

20.06.2020

Marvellous Moths!

Hi everyone,

This weekend I have a lovely nature journal idea for copying the patterns of moth wings to help learn about the species.

This was inspired by two things. First of all I found some unusual looking eggs in the corner of my allotment greenhouse. It just happened that my Dad had passed on to me his book of insects from when he was a boy, in a moment of synchronicity I opened the book and there in-front of me was a picture of exactly the eggs that I had found. I discovered that they were Vapourer Moth eggs….which then led me to do some more research.

Deciding to add this to the nature journal I made it into a bit of a nature based fun homeschool project from my children. We decided rather than making butterflies by dropping paint on paper and folding it over, we would try and make moths instead. Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: We found some old card (in this case it was card postcards that we hadn’t used). We soaked the card in tea….this wasn’t 100% necessary but gave a nice background colour for a moth and was of course just lots of fun.

Step 2: Once the card had dried we marked out our basic moth shapes in white pencil crayon and cut the moth out.

Step 3: We chose some colours to mix that we felt would represent our fairly basic brown moth. We then used thick water colour paint from a tube to make a nice brown and painted on one side of the moth wing pattern. We then folded the wing over to print the pattern on the other side.

We found that the pattern on the opposite side didn’t always print as strongly so we kept adding blobs of colour trying to mimic the shapes that we saw and reprinting. This gave a lovely effect of the mottled wings.

Step 4: Once the paint layers were down I drew into them with pencil crayons to give further details. We then also replicated the egg nest I had found and discovered that the female vapourer moth can’t actually fly. Once she hatches she clings to her cocoon where she lays her eggs.

I stuck them into my journal with little foam tabs so that they stand off the page when I open the book. Although it’s nice to be as accurate as possible, it’s the process of observation that is important. The whole time you are trying to be accurate you are memorising the shapes and colours and will remember the moth much more easily when you find it in the natural world.

After completing all that, I realised I had no idea what the caterpillar of this moth looked like. I was pleasantly surprised to find he was a funky little creature in 1970’s inspired get up! Lot’s of orange, green and tufts of hair everywhere! I had some painted paper patterns left over from another project so collaged a little caterpillar to complete my journal page before adding annotations.

While I was doing this my little girl was busy making her very own representation of a silk moth, I thinks she did a great job 🙂

For anyone that is interested – here is the original picture that set off my learning!

It’s a wonderful thing to start off with one tiny discovery to then go on to find out so much more, and to create a lovely art project. I hope it inspires you to do something similar! Happy Saturday Art Challenge!

Best wishes,

Emma

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

3 thoughts on “Saturday Art Challenge

  1. I saw a grass emerald moth yesterday.
    So beautiful.

    Grass Emeralds
    Opalescent blue wings
    Flicker
    Between
    Sea green stems

    Great to be able to look up its proper name on the butterfly conservation trust website on returning home.i was really inspired by the colours.

    Liked by 1 person

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