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.

Small Art Projects

This week I worked on a few smaller fun projects, leaving my bigger painting ‘Love’s Sacrifice’ alone for a bit.  My son is doing his exams and I’ve been concentrating on being there for him.

So I began the week looking at some beautiful macro photographs of tiny animals, like this miniscule moth photographed by Johan J Ingles Le Nobel.

I’ve always loved macro photography with a passion.  So many beautiful tiny details!  Le Nobel’s work is brilliant!

I didn’t intend on sketching this picture and was just playing around in my sketchbook whilst in bed one evening when the beauty of the photograph came into my mind…

So I decided the next day to give it some colour.  I used watercolour paints with Prismacolor Pencils over the top.

Here’s the final painting…

I wish I’d got the eyes exactly the right shape as they’re the main feature of this animal’s face.  The drawing was ok but successive layers of paint slightly changed the final curve.

 

Next I drew an ‘Eevee’ which is a little deer Pokemon.  (Please note the design of this little guy is created and owned by the Pokemon franchise.  I just made a painting of him.)  I used gouache for the painting so I could get really bright cartoon-type colours.  It was kind of fun!

Then finally I sketched a high alititude landscape in pencil…

I think this would have been more effective if I could have created a greater tonal difference between the foreground and the background.  Part of the problem was that my scanner wouldn’t pick up very light pencil for the far mountains unless I darkened them.  There seems to be a cut off point where the scanner couldn’t see very light pencil even when it’s obvious to a person’s regular eye sight.  I could have darkened the foreground more to cater for this but I didn’t think if it at the time.

I also coloured this picture to see if adding some colour helped.  First I added three shades of green to the trees and some basic blue sky lightening towards the top.  Then I added yellow to the light areas and purple to the shadows to give the picture a warmed look.