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"Cecropia Courtship" acrylic-10" x 20" © 2013 Karen A Johnson

“Cecropia Courtship”
acrylic-10″ x 20″
© 2013 Karen A Johnson

Saturniid moths or silk moths have been a favorite of mine since I was a child.  Their huge size, furry bodies and legs, and gentle demeanor captivated me whenever I came across one.  I raised many a caterpillar to adulthood, stripping neighborhood trees in the process, as the caterpillars are also large.  Spring was always full of anticipation as I awaited the emergence of the moth from its coccoon after a long winter.  One spring, many years ago, a female cecropia emerged and I decided to test the power of her pheromones to attract the males.  I lived in the suburbs and wondered how quickly the males would find her as the moth only lives 7 to 10 days.  I had an old fashioned window that was separated from the screen by about 4 inches and figured that would give her plenty of room.  She quietly fluttered, then found a spot and gently vibrated her wings off and on.  I watched for a while, then left.  At 4 a.m. I returned and to my delight there were 3 males fluttering around my window!  I couldn’t believe it…I was amazed that these moths somehow emerged within that small window of life, found each other and perpetuated their race…even in the suburbs of Chicago.

This painting celebrates that moment of wonder I felt observing those beautiful moths gathered around the female.  I thought maybe you’d enjoy the process I took to paint them as well.  The background was done using layering techniques that I posted on earlier.  After that I laid down a white layer, followed by a quick colored sketch version of each moth.  Details were then carefully painted in and volume achieved, hopefully, by adding shadows.  Enjoy “Cecropia Courtship”!