Art Elements Theme Challenge – Luna Moths

So this month the Art Elements theme is chosen and hosted by Jen Cameron and it’s all about beautiful Luna moths. I actually got my act together for this theme and started in good time so I have a few things to share with you today.

I started with an embroidered piece trying to create a reasonably realistic recreation of a male luna moth. I used eco-dyed silk for my background and used a variegated green thread to try and give some depth.

I wasn’t really feeling a great deal of love for this moth, I think perhaps because I find the colours a little pale and insipid compared to my preferred stronger, earthy palettes. Anyway, I decided to use it as a sampler for some slow stitching and proceeded to add some simple textural stitches to the background area and finished up with a few scattered flowers.

Finally I added a tonal backing fabric and In the end I did quite like it even though it is rather subdued… it has a kind of Japanese feel to it. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it but I’m sure inspiration will strike when I least expect it.

Next I set to work on a soft sculpture, something I’ve wanted to try since discovering the wonderful world of textile artist Mister Finch who makes the most amazing moths with vintage fabrics. I was tempted to follow hm down the route of repurposing vintage embroidered linens but decided to try an idea of mine own first.

I had some lovely batik fabric that I thought would make great moth wings (I abandoned any pretence of realism with this one) so I marked out the shapes, layered the fabric with some wadding and used my sewing machine to create some veins. Once that was done I put the fabric into an embroidery hoop and couched some florists wire around the outline of the wings. I then blanket stitched around the outline completely encasing the wire and then cut out the wings very close to the stitching – the wire edging means that the wings are posable.

My plan was to keep this interpretation simple and not worry about facial features and the like (apparently luna moths don’t have mouths anyway) but since they’re so distinctive, I did think I needed to give him some antennae. These I made from feathers cut to shape and sprayed with a couple of coats of Krylon to make them more robust.

I made the body from some green velvet I found at a local scrap store and once put together with the wings, antennae and some wire legs this lovely creature appeared…

I’ve named her Mahina after a lunar deity in Hawaiin mythology (and also the Hawiian name for the moon) and I’ve become quite attached to her.

When she’s not hanging out with me she perches on a lamp and has a litle snooze…

Although she can be a bit terrifying at night when the lamp is on…

Next I decided to change mediums and have a go at painting a moth. I’m quite new to painting and haven’t really picked up my paint brushes for best part of six months so I’m very rusty and had to have a bit of a practice. Once I got going though I started to enjoy myself and managed to come up with a reasonable if stylised likeness.

I just love the Daniel Smith water colour that I used for the moon here… it’s called ‘Shadow Violet’ and as you can see breaks into the most glorious ethereal tones. At the time I finished this painting I didn’t have any picture mounts with round apertures (I’ve now corrected that situation) so I tweaked the angle of the image and applied a vignette which gave it a wonderful dimensionality.

After that I went completely outside the realms of reality and used up some colours that were sitting in a dried up palette to create a slightly more psychedelic version. I used some silver paint pens to highlight this one and then decided to cut it out and mount it on black paper. I finished it off by using splatter from the silver paint pen to give a cosmic feel.

At this point I thought I was done with luna moths but then last weekend I wanted to do some tests with metallic and white gel pens for detailing on watercolour and decided I might as well use them as my subjects. I often use paint pens like the silver one on the pink moth but they can be a bit temperamental and prone to leaving unwanted blobs which can spoil a painting. I’ve had Uni Pin gel pens for some time which are finer than the paint pens so I wanted see how they compare.

I painted up some moths in various colours, layering them up to create some interest but not adding any fine detail. I then went in and added this detail with the pens and as you can see it really brings them to life. It’s hard to see the metallic effect in to too much detail on this image, especially with the silver which is quite a dark platinum shade but they are quite effective, as is the white. The pens are really nice to use, they run smoothly and respond to a light touch and I had no problems with blobs or patchy lines. I’ll definitely be using these again.

So that’s me and my moths… I hope you enjoyed them and will join us on the rest of our blog hop using the links below. Many thanks to Jen for giving us such an inspiring theme.

And don’t forget, the April theme challenge (which I’m hosting) has already been announced and you can find out more and sign up here. I look forward to seeing you next month.



Beth and Evie









Art Elements Team:





Lesley You are here







17 thoughts on “Art Elements Theme Challenge – Luna Moths

  1. Gosh, I love every single piece you created! The embroidery piece is so enchanting (maybe especially due to the subtle color scheme) and the moth itself simply gorgeous! If they ever need a new home, they can always come and live with me! I also love your paintings! They don’t look like you put your brush away for some time. My favorites in the end are actually your paint and pen swatches, they may look simple but you simplified and stylized the shape so perfectly! I may have to steal this idea from you 😉

  2. Wow – love each one of the pieces you created! I especially love your Mahina moth (though I think I would have a heart attack if I came across her at night). Your painted pieces are stunning – can’t believe you haven’t painted much. Love them all!

  3. Your moths paint a pretty picture. The embroidery looks as though real moth flew over a Sumi-e painting so yes, it does give a very Japanese feeling. But my favourite of the lot is Mahina. She is gorgeous.

  4. Wow! You were busy this month. I adore the soft sculpture moth-photographing it in the hellebores made a spectacular backdrop for such a pretty moth. My favorite is the luna moth embroidery on the eco printed silk though! I just love this piece. The wine color of the background fabric really sets it off so well. The additional stitching adds just the right elements to go with the moth. So well done!!
    And I am loving that you are back to your watercolors. Your style is very beautiful and the colors are so rich.

  5. Ooh, these are all so lovely. The embroidery piece has a very serene soothing quality to me. The fabrics you chose for the soft sculpture are gorgeous together And I am quite envious of your watercolors, especially that Shadow Violet. I love all the color variations you tried for the moths.

  6. Just amazing, all of it! The background stiching on your first moth just adds so much to the finished piece, such great texture! The batik fabric wings on the second moth, genius! The finished fabric moth is simply stunning. Your water colour moths – I love all the colours but those last ones really make me smile, they are so vibrant!

  7. Wow! Wow!! WOW!!! I love your embroidery piece so much. This may be my favorite artwork I’ve seen from this challenge. I love the muted tones, the textures of the sampler stitches, and the softly variegated fabric. This is just an amazingly beautiful work of art. I find your fabric moth quite endearing as well and think she looks quite at home on the lampshade, or maybe on your shoulder. She is lovely. Your watercolor studies came out fabulous too – I love how you made the moon. Very inspiring all round!

  8. Slow stitching sounds good for the embroidered piece – I’d love to it finished and try to count all the tiny stitched ornaments in it! The soft sculpture impressed me the most. It is gorgeous even when it’s scary 🙂 I love the stylized images and the watercolor is beautiful! I know nothing about gel pens (and most modern drawing media for that matter) but the moths look pretty and I love the many different images on one sheet.

  9. Lesley, your first piece is beautiful! The kaleidoscope of colors meld together to create a stunning Luna Moth. Coupled with the muted earth colors, it’s what Mother Nature intends. I love Mahina, though I wonder if you do have a scary moment when waking up at night 🙂 … And your watercolors are awesome!

  10. I serioisky love the embroidered moth with the background you created with the fabric + slow stitching. I just adore the texture and interest the slow stitching creates and it really brings it all together. The soft sculpture is so clever and id be pretty attached to her too. I love her lamp perch and how she looks backlit….pretty scary 😉 the paintings all turned out brilliant and it really is amazing the difference the pens make in the final piece

  11. That last set of moths would be great as cards – like your birds. That Shadow violet! Want! Need! ( have to check if i have it! ) I love the soft sculpture moth – so much hand stitching on the edge! Wow. What does Cleo think? The feathers are ingenious, BTW.

  12. Mahina is absolutely stunning! You chose the perfect fabrics for her… you definitely need to do more 3D work! Love the watercolours too, especially the last moths, you can see you were having loads of fun with those!

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