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How to Make a Watercolor Moth Painting inspired by Allyson Reynolds

Artists of Any Age Can Make This Cool Art!

Today we're going to make a beautiful watercolor painting inspired by Allyson Reynolds! If you love nature and bugs, this is an awesome project for you.

About the Artist: Allyson Reynolds

Allyson Reynolds is a contemporary artist who lives in Australia. Her paintings are inspired by nature- specifically, moths! She noticed that moths loved coming to her window at night because the light would be on, but moths are a little clumsy so they'd crash into the window. In the morning, she'd find a lot of moths on the ground. She was so inspired by the shapes and colors and how different they all were that she started painting moths as her inspiration. If you want to read more, Moth Song is a super cool book about Reynolds' art, with very special commissioned detailed photographs, and was published in 2012. If you want to see some of her recent work and learn more about her, check out her website!


What You'll Need

  • ⬜️ Watercolor Paper

  • 🎨 Watercolor Paints

  • 🖌 Watercolor Paintbrushes

  • 💦 Water Jar

  • ❕Paper Towels

  • 🌀 Masking Tape

  • 🦷 Toothpick


First, let's use masking tape around the edges of our paper so that way, at the end of our project, we can take the tape off and our art will have a border, like a frame. Beautiful!


Step 1: Learn How to Paint One Moth

First, find the paintbrushes you're going to want to use first. You'll want a medium and a small size brush. Add a little bit of water to your watercolors to get them started since we're going to be using LOTS of colors! If you only have a few colors in your watercolor palette, don't worry - you can always mix them.


To paint one moth, get a lot of color and water on your brush. When you're ready, flatten it out on your paper and wiggle it a little bit to get one wing. Then do the same thing next to that wing so you have two wings. You want this to be wet! When your wings are done, take your toothpick and pull out two little antennae at the top of the wings. It's easier to have your toothpick really low rather than up and down.


PRO TIP: With watercolor, we always say "Wetter is better!"


Step 2: Paint Your Big Moths

Now that we know the basics of how to paint one moth, we can start getting extra creative with moths! As you start to paint your watercolor moths, think about ways to make them creative and different from each other. On Allyson Reynold's paintings, no two moths are the same.


Ways to make your moths unique:

  • Add a body to some moths using your toothpick

  • Make sure they're going in all different directions on your paper

  • Add an extra color to the wings by dipping a different color on the wings

  • Add spots to your moths

Start by making all of your BIG moths first, and then fill in space in between them with small and tiny moths. Make at least five big moths. PRO TIP: don't wait to do your antennas later, make sure you do them right away while the paint is still wet!


Step 3: Add Small Moths

Keep going with painting your moths, and you can use your smaller paintbrush to paint these. Don't forget to keep mixing colors and make all of your moths different colors and styles. Each moth should have antennae and should have another color or some cool detail that you add to make them different. You can use your toothpick to add details like stripes or dots in your moth's wings. Paint at least 10-15 smaller moths all facing different ways all over your paper.


PRO TIP: Experiment and create! Since every moth is different, try new things to make each one EXTRA cool!

Step 4: Paint Your Background

Once you're totally done with all of your moths, you're ready to paint your background! Some of Allyson Reynolds' paintings actually have a white background, so you can leave it white if you want. But, if you want to paint your background, pick one color and let's get started. Take your smaller brush and outline your moth with a little bit of space around it. That way, you don't blend your background color inside your moths, which might be wet still. Once your moth is outlined, paint all the way around your moth to the edge of the painting. Make sure you paint around the antennae too - you don't want them to get covered up!


PRO TIP: leaving a little bit of white space around the moth will really help make these POP on your page!


The Final Product!

And Remember... Keep Making Cool Art!

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