First experiments

Continuing with the theme of skyline I started to look at the colours and the contrast between light and dark within galaxy’s. I started by creating small scale studies within my sketchbook using acrylic paint for the vastness of space and soft pastels to bring out the colours and light.

Acrylic and soft chalk pastels

What I think worked well  was the blend of colours, however upon further reflection I feel they are stodgy at times and lacking in depth and vividness. So to improve upon this aspect I will be exploring with different materials (such as oil, water colour). The reason this has happened is because I have overlaid  lighter colours over dark, so in order to bring out the light I need to overlay the darker colours (blues/blacks) over a lighter base colour, for example yellow or white.  The stars were created using  white acrylic and chalk, whilst this works to bring out the light I feel the stars with the Xs can be improved upon or taken away because they seem a little out of place to me. After this experiment I found a much more organic way to create stars that look more like the infinite amount in space. This is done by flicking the bristles on the paint brush using a finger to pull them back and let them go. The result is a much more evenly spaced star pattern which feels much more organic and less thought through in regards to the placement on the page.  this can be seen in my later experiments.


I experimented with varying amount of colour. In this piece I  used a lot of red acrylic mixed with purple, black and blue. Again I think the stars can be improved upon, however this was a focus on the background.  In some areas light has been captured well. For example in the top left corner the white pastel has created a steamy/smokey affect.  In order to bring out the colours better I decided to experiment with ink; by putting a red ink wash over the top. Below is the result.

Before and after red ink wash

The result was a beautiful gloss affect, really enhancing the red and blending the dark blue.  This inspired me to start experimenting with ink in later experiments because I love the way it really brings the piece off the page rather than feeling one dimensional.  At the same time I started experimenting outside of my sketchbook om canvas boards. I created a galaxy piece aiming to capture the vibrant colours of space.  Using acrylic I started with a base coat of light blue and worked over this in black and deeper blue, later mixing purple into the blue and black.  On top of these layers I started adding the vibrancy of a nebular, using deep and vivid colours such as oranges and reds. To try and highlight the edges where light shines I used white pastel because of its soft quality and the way it fades out when rubbed. this is shown in the close up below. I  added a few stars however not as many as before.

Close up of the pastel
The result of the canvas galaxy piece

I then decided that I preferred working on the canvas as it provided a better surface for the paint than normal paper.  I decided to practice using a lighter colour as a base for the painting so that the light can appear naturally. I used light yellow for the base and worked over this in darker colours. It is here that I found a better technique for creating stars, which as you can see looks more natural, whilst also creating interesting texture. I also tried to differentiate between the texture of space and the texture of the water below, space looking smoother in comparison to the rough lines of the ocean. Using white i tried to capture the break of the waves upon the sand.

Ocean and the stars

After this piece I further explored using a canvas and taking inspiration from Jennifer Taylors use of mountains against stars in her work decided to create a similar piece. By  using card cut out into the shape of mountains, I was able to create a base background using light purple acrylic. The card allowed the acrylic to  form mountain shapes which I later worked on top of.

This may have been simple but the outcome is very effective. I also love the simplicity of the star technique and how much better this looks compared to my first attempts. Next time I would use a darker blue to create shadow at the bottom of the mountain rather then light blue which suggests water.

The Mountain and the Stars

For my next experiments I plan to use more ink  to create interesting textures.



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