I came across this image online one day and for the life of me I can’t figure out from where it originated because it’s used everywhere on desktop wallpaper sites. I’m not 100% sure if this is from a genuine Hubble photograph or if someone created this digitally somewhere. So while I’d love to give proper credit to the original image’s creator, I’m at a loss to do so. If you do know who originated it, please let me know so I can credit them properly.
When I saw this image I immediately knew I wanted to paint it with watercolors. I used a few different techniques with this, a little wet on wet and some wet on dry, too. I happily used my freshly created watercolor palette which uses tube paints from Winsor & Newton, Susan Scheewe and Grumbacher Academy. I also referenced my watercolor mix chart quite a bit to create the proper hues I was looking for.
My watercolor skills still aren’t honed enough to throw in the little detail work, however, so when it came to the finer lines, etc, I turned to my Prismacolor Premiere colored pencils. You can see in my materials photo earlier that I’m using a pretty old set of Prismacolors (circa 2000.) I actually used that set plus a newer set that they sell in their customary tins now.
At one point I was getting quite frustrated with the right-hand side of the painting, as it had come out much more pink than red. I tried doctoring it up with my colored pencils, but since this is on a large 12″ x 16″ piece of watercolor paper, I was feeling a bit challenged to fill in all that pink with colored pencils alone. Heavy-toothed watercolor paper chews up colored pencils pretty quick.
I felt it was too late to try and add watercolor back over the top a second time. Since the Prismacolors are wax-based, I was concerned they’d just form a resist against the watercolors.
I then remembered the set of Prismacolor Nupastel pastels I had received around the holidays so pulled those out and worked with them. They were still not quite filling the space the way I wanted, and now I was left with pastel dust all over on top of it. These Nupastels, however, are water-soluble! So, I decided to experiment and took a baby wipe and smudged the pastels with it. BINGO! Perfect soft blending of the colors and the pastel dust is no more (which means I don’t have to worry about sealing it, either!)
My final touch was to add splatters to represent stars. I did this using wet down white gesso, and white gesso mixed with Artist’s Loft turquoise and brilliant yellow acrylics to get the light yellow and light blue stars.
I really love this painting and want to frame it and hang it, actually. Or get a print made and frame and hang that (so I don’t have to worry about the original fading after time.) Making it into a print means I could also blow it up larger, too.
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List of materials:
Arches Aquarelle 140-lb cold press watercolor paper
Winsor & Newton watercolors
Susan Scheewe watercolors
Grumbacher Academy watercolors
Prismacolor Premiere colored pencils
Prismacolor Nupastel pastels
Liquitex white gesso
Artist’s Loft acrylic paints