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Hello, my darlings. This has been a year of firsts, and I hope you are enjoying all the adventures that 2019 has brought to your doorstep. Our dearest friend Lindsay of Phantasm Creations invited us to begin participating in Art Elements' monthly challenge, and I must say, the theme this month features a subject I've wanted to explore for a while.

​Moths, especially the luna moth, have such an ethereal quality to them that I was certain I would find all sorts of lore and stories surrounding them. Though I found a great deal on their cousin the Butterfly, there was surprising little on hand about the moth. Moths, like butterflies, symbolize the souls of the departed. They also represent the slow, quiet decay of the things we love. One story tells of how the moth symbolizes the danger of passion, and how the "moth to the flame," who is drawn helplessly to the light, will also be destroyed by it.

​I checked out a few books from our local library for inspiration, including Titian Peale's Lost Manuscript & Rare Treasures from the Library of the Natural History Museum for inspiration. There is something so charmingly beautiful about these paintings and sketches of times gone by, featuring the same subjects we still explore today.

​I'm so attached to my tools when it comes to my art. I've had them for a few years now, and I'm still so in love with my Mab Graves-edition Draft/Matic pencils. I use them exclusively for all my sketches these days.

​This has been my first finished piece using (primarily) my new Wildthorne watercolors. I am absolutely delighted by the range of the colors and the way they layer upon one another.

I'm pretty happy with the final product, and it has been such a wonderful experience participating in this challenge!

Melody & Katherine also worked on some lovely pieces for this challenge. Katherine has been working on a stunning Luna Moth embroidery piece, framed with delicate moonflowers. She chose these because these flowers bloom specifically during the light of the moon, and they are a lovely complement to her stunning Luna Moth piece. This one isn't finished yet, but we will post photos on our Facebook when this lovely creation is finished! ​Here's Mel's story about her project for this month, a leather Luna Moth hairpiece: "Like the others I spent some time researching different morphs of luna moths, and found some lovely images of "albino" moths that I thought would translate well in my main medium of leather. It seems as though these "albino" moths are usually the result of an egg hatching the same season it was laid (as opposed to overwintering in the cocoon) along with age and sun-bleaching, each of which results in less and less pigment in the iconic green wings. I'm certainly delighted with any process that results in these haunting and pale Luna Moths.

I combined a few online images into a sketch, which I then traced onto the damp leather. I often cut my original sketch in half and trace it twice to ensure symmetry on pieces. After that I use my heavy shears to cut the shape from the leather hide and round off/slick the edges. From there I use my 45° swivel knife to cut the design into the piece and do any tooling, which was just a small amount of texture on the antenna and using bevelers to achieve a soft layered effect for the wings. That is the stage of the image on the left, while the image on the right has a coat of light brown dye and some darker brown accents in the wing spots and other markings. The shape is achieved simply by handforming the moth while its damp from carving and dyeing stages.

Here I used a rubbery paint called EdgeKote to flood the wings with a thick matte white that still allowed the brown dye to seep through. I tilted the piece as I did, allowing extra material to drip off and producing a fade to thicker paint along the edge of the wings. This was a very long process as the paint needs to fully dry before I can work on the next wing--otherwise I'll end up with drippies and globs.

I used two layers on the wings and three to four on the body and 'moon' behind the antenna. The piece was a tad subtle so I went back in with the light brown dye and highlighted the veins. Usually then I would use a sealant but this time I painted two layers of glow-in-the-dark acrylic over the cream portions of the wings. It looks quite nice in the dark now but unfortunately my camera is not nearly impressive enough to show the green glow! I'm very happy with it and love the look of a sweet moth alighting on someone's swept up hair by day, or a mysterious glowing moth bobbing along a dark trail at night. ​-Melody"

Make sure you check out the beautiful pieces finished by the other participants as well! ​<3 Colette Guests: Tammy Beth and Evie Alysen Rozantia Sarajo Karin Sarah Divya Colette (You are here!) Art Elements Team: Niky Caroline Cathy Jenny Lesley Marsha Lindsay Claire Jen

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