Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celestial Watercolor Tutorial

These celestial paintings might look complicated but are very easy to create. You may be surprised at how easy it is.

To start you will need:

*Transparent watercolors - These can be the inexpensive kind, pan or liquid. I used Grumbacher on most of my paintings but did one with inexpensive Yarka watercolors. Before starting on the project, moisten pan watercolors with water. I did not use liquid watercolor, but would suggest diluting them with a small amount of water - an intensity of color is wanted.
*Watercolor paper - I used Arches Cold Press 140lb. but any watercolor paper should do.
*Dr. Ph. Martin's Pen White Ink - It may also be possible to use a thin, very OPAQUE white acrylic paint but I have not done this.
*Masking Tape
*Old toothbrush
*1 or 2 brushes for watercolors. I used a round (or mop) brush for the painting, and a flat brush for saturating the paper with water. A larger brush would be better than a small brush. I used a size 12 round brush and a 14 flat brush.
*2 water containers (with clean water - of course!)

1. I wanted a white border on my paintings, so as to resemble a photograph. To do this, very lightly put a small dot inside each corner - a quarter inch down and in from the side. When I was finished it looked like this. (I am working on a small scale, but this should work on most any size watercolor paper)

2. With the masking tape, secure the paper to a smooth surface. You want to bring the tape up to, but not cover, the dots on each corner. I taped my paper to a piece of plexiglass but most any surface should do - just make sure the tape,water, or paints will not ruin the surface you are working on.

3. Liberally wet the watercolor paper. I mean literally make it SOAKING wet.

4. With a wet round brush, pick up yellow. The brush should be fairly thick with paint. Randomly, touch the brush lightly to the wet paper. The yellow paint should spread and create an irregular shape or shapes on the paper.

5. Clean the brush in the first container of water and do a final rinse in the second container. Here I have picked up Burnt Sienna and I am randomly touching the paper with the brush. I do go over *some* of the yellow with the Burnt Sienna.

6. Now I am adding Blue Green.

7. I am adding Ultramarine. The colors should start to meld a little bit but there should be some individual colors showing. If the colors are not seeping into one another, use the brush lightly to move them.

8. At this point it will look like a blobby wet mess. Very carefully, draw off *some* of the liquid by bringing a paper towel up to the edge and letting it touch the watery paint.

9. It doesn't look like much right now but leave the painting to dry. The colors will spread a little bit more and soften as they dry.

10. Once the painting has almost completely dried, the *stars* can be added. A toothbrush will be used for this effect. Saturate the end of the toothbrush with Dr. Ph. Martin's Pen White and flick the bristles a couple of times to get most of the paint out. Now flick the almost dry brush over the painting to create tiny white splatters of dots. Do this until you are satisfied with the look.

11. Carefully peel the tape *away* from the painting. ViolĂ ! An amazingly easy celestial painting!

Here is the same method done with inexpensive Yarka watercolors using only basic yellow, red, and blue. I actually like this one better than the Grumbacher one. Try experimenting with different colors and see what you get. Leave some lighter areas mixed in with the dark. You might be amazed with what you create!!


  1. These are gorgeous, Kim! Great photos, too. Thanks so much for sharing how you made these!