Elephant Hawk Moth and LadyBird in Watercolour

I had more fun with painting this week. I was browsing the internet when I came upon this beautiful creature – an Elephant Hawk Moth (Deilephila elpenor)

Often, many of the biggest, most beautiful insects in the world are found in warmer climates, but this pink-lovely is resident in the UK! Apparently it really likes Rosebay Willowherb which is a colonising plant on wasteground, roadside verges and other places. We have it at the side of the Common near where I live. I’m going to look out for it and see if I can see any Hawk Moth caterpillars, pupae, or even young moths this spring. They overwinter as pupae low down on plants or even in leaf litter so I might find one in any stage of development. In fact tomorrow is the 2nd February, which is traditionally the day when ancient people around here used to believe that the earth began to stir again after winter, so it’s a good time to start looking for new life.

Because I had so much pain when I was painting in acrylics at the table I’ve gone back to painting in bed with all of the paintings I’ve done in the last two weeks and it is so much easier. I painted 2 pictures this week – the Elephant Hawkmoth and a Ladybird on a Flower.

Here’s my initial sketch of the moth…

I decided to paint this using a mixture of watercolours and watercolour pencils. The pencils were ideal for the details of this subject because I could get really thin lines, even thinner than with my 10/0 rigger brush. I started with a graded wash as my background with two colours in it to work in harmony with my subject. However at the end I realised that I needed a plainer background for such a detailed, patterned creature so I mixed my watercolour paint with white gouache to make a flat light green colour. I chose it because it’s supposed to be the complementary colour for pink. Here’s the final painting…

My second painting this week is quite simple, a Ladybird on a flower. Here’s the sketch…

I used watercolour paints for this one, rather than the pencils. It was done with basic wet on wet washes and a tiny bit of wet on dry for the shadows. Here’s the final painting…

I was feeling quite sunny when I painted this and I think that got reflected in the cheerful colour palette.


8 thoughts on “Elephant Hawk Moth and LadyBird in Watercolour

  1. Nice moth drawing, Its interesting that the ancient celtic people believed life started stirring again after February 2nd. Here February 2nd is Groundhog Day, if the groundhog see’s his shadow, it is folklore that there is 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t spring will come sooner, but no matter what it is always cold until the beginning of April. I saw when I was checking the weather yesterday, they showed the Premier of the Ontario, Doug Ford with our Famous Groundhog Wiarton Willy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great work Jo and nice to hear somebody mention the ubiquitous Rosebay Willowherb, a plant that evokes memories of childhood, for me.

    Liked by 2 people

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