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Monday, December 18, 2017

Elusive Hologram Moth

"Hologram Moth" 11x12 watercolor and copper by Bridget Bossart van Otterloo

Hologram Moth, Step by Step

I've been hiding out in my studio lately, avoiding most of the holiday craziness. Here's one of the many projects I've been working on. I thought you'd enjoy reading and seeing a little about my process. 

"Hologram Moth" (Aka Green-patched Looper Moth) Diachrysia balluca 

My painting of this Hologram Moth was created for a traveling educational exhibit with the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Finger Lakes Chapter, in Ithaca NY. The title and theme of this exhibit is "Elusives, the Natural World we Seldom See." It will be an educational collaboration with the Rochester Museum & Science Center/Cumming Nature Center. On exhibit there late January through April, 2018, then traveling to other venues. 

This painting was created with many thin layers of watercolor paint, building up to the final detail. I added the copper leaf to illustrate the iridescence on this moth's wings. The Hologram Moth's coloring makes it elusive to predators in the woods. This mostly green-brown moth has a wingspan of 4.3-4.8 cm. The fore-wings have large patches of dull, metallic green over much of the outer two-thirds. I used some of the remaining leaves from my raspberry bushes as a reference for the background. Raspberry and hops are a few of her favorite foods. 
Keep an eye out for this beautiful moth the next time you're out hiking in our region. 

My Process:

 Beginning drawing, and first layers of watercolor

Step 1: I started with a pencil drawing of the moth, then began adding some light layers of watercolor. In this style of watercolor painting I always start with the lightest colors in the painting, as it is impossible to go lighter again once the paint has dried.

Adding the copper leaf.
Step 2: Adding some copper leaf to illustrate the iridescence on the moth's wings. The above photo shows the brand of gilding supplies I prefer- Golden Leaf products.

Starting the background of raspberry leaves.
Step 3: I cut the remaining raspberry leaves from my garden to use as a reference for the background. Raspberries are one of the Hologram Moth's favorite foods. The leaves have been changing color in their jar of water since I cut them, having their own little Autumn again.

Step 4 to Finish: I'm happy with the results, shown in the photo of the final painting below. My moth is camouflaged in her oasis of raspberry leaves, with just her copper patches to give her away.

Here is a short video showing the final stages of my painting process:

I'm offering high quality archival digital prints of this painting over in my Etsy shop. Follow this link to order:

"Hologram Moth", 11x12 image with a 2 inch white border. 
$60. Plus tax and shipping
This is a Limited Edition Archival High Quality Digital Print on Watercolor Paper with hand applied Copper Leaf. Signed by the Artist

Final "Hologram Moth" 11x12 watercolor. Prints Available
I hope this post brought you some peace and distraction from any holiday stress. Thank you for your interest in my artwork. 

My best, 


  1. Thank you for sharing. I do love reading about your process.

    1. Thank you, Sheila. It's the teacher in me that loves to share my process.

  2. Fascinating to learn of your method. Wonderful to have your work be a part of the traveling educational exhibit!