Inspired by the street artists on our trip to San Francisco, I decided to try and paint a galaxy, something I always thought to be so magical and mysterious. In this little project, all you need besides spray paint and paper, are things you can find in your recycle bin, and no art training required!
The first part of this tutorial is here, where I listed tools and materials, and shared a simple 5 minute painting of some planets floating in space. Now you saw the warm up, let’s paint the real thing and amaze yourself at how fun and easy it is to create art! We will be using a 22″x28″ poster board here (Target has nice ones) and this 3M Mask works great if you plan to do a lot of painting or other finishing work!
Place an oval stencil (Covered Stencil Method, see a list of all the cool techniques at the end of this tutorial) in the center of the galaxy, and create a dark background covering half of the painting with soft mist of black and metallic blue.
Make 3 cut-out oval stencils, going from larger to smaller, lift them about 1″ to 2″ above the surface of the painting (Raised Stencil) and paint the center of galaxy from yellow, to pink, to white.
Cut out a couple of spiral forms in another piece of cardboard, and again use the Raised Stencil method to create several spirals going outward from the center of galaxy, using purple and blue paint.
This method allows us to create more accurate spiral forms with nice soft edges.
Place some of the circular objects where you want the planets to be, gently spray a little black paint to mark them, and remove the covers.
You probably won’t see the street artists do this, because they know very well from hundreds of paintings where the planets should be. We do it because it allows us to play around and find a balanced composition before we put all the paints down,
Start with the first planet, use 3-4 colors, and start with either the lightest color, in this case lime green, and quickly go to the next shade – metallic blue, and the darkest – black, overlapping the adjacent colors. Don’t be concerned about staying within the planet makings. You can also go from dark to light colors, which creates a lighter planet.
While the paint is wet, quickly crumble a piece of newspaper, open it, and lay it on top of the painted planet area, very gently run your fingers on top of the paper. This will lift some of the paints and create a cool texture on the planets. Lift the paper and here we have the start of a planet!
The colors for some of the other planets are white-purple-blue-black, pink-green-blue, etc. See final step for more tips on color harmony!
After all the planet areas are painted, we will cover them with those cans and lids, and create the space around them.
Starting with black, create a dark void between the spiral galaxy and around the floating planets using the Soft Mist method. Then using metallic blue, lime green and purple, softly spray some flowing colored light through the dark space. Keeping the nozzle at least 12″ above the paper will create softer transitions.
In this painting I wanted to create a subtle movement of light from the edges toward the center. You can improvise and create any flowing forms you like!
Now we can lift the covers, and move on to the final and super fun steps: stars! Spray some white paint onto a small piece of thick paper, there should be enough paint yet not too much that it drips. Face the paper down where you would like to have the stars, and tap with your fingers on the back of the paper to create clusters of stars.
The bigger stars are created with the Raised Stencil method – poke a hole in a piece of cardboard, lift it a couple of inches from the paper, and spray with white over the small opening, now you have a shimmering star!
And those comets! They are the easiest – just place the can upside down, face the nozzle toward the direction of the comet, and give a quick tap on the bottom of the can.
Here’s a summary of the techniques used.
- Soft Mist :after creating some uneven blobs of paint, I figured this out- it sounds so counter intuitive- instead of pressing the nozzle then start moving the paint can, do the opposite, get the can moving, then press the nozzle! This will create a even and natural looking mist, without a heavy starting point. See Step 1 & 3
- Newspaper :while the paint is wet, use newspaper to lift some of the paints and create a cool texture. Can be used to create planets, mountains, etc. See Step 2
- Covered Stencil : stencil touches the painting, creates defined shapes with sharp edges. See Step 2
- Raised Stencil :stencil is lifted a couple of inches from painting, creates defined shapes with soft edges. See Step 1 & 4
- Bounced Paint :spray not the painting, but a straight or curved surface perpendicular from the painting to create a very soft line. I used it to create the spiral galaxy in an earlier painting – but find method 4 easier and quicker. Still, this method has a lot of potential for sure!
- Star Clusters :spray some paint on a small piece of thick paper and tap with your fingers on the back of the paper to create clusters of stars. See Step 4
- Comet :a quick tap on the bottom of a upside down spray can will create a comet / shooting star. See Step 4
- consider the temperature of colors from warm to cool. warm colors such as red, orange, hot pink creates a more exciting feeling, such as the earlier painting, and cool colors such as blue, green and lavender creates a more peaceful feeling, as in this one!
And, the ultimate goal is to forget the techniques and fly with your imagination. I am really in love with spray paint as an art medium! It offers lots of new creative possibilities, and it’s super fun to use. It almost feels like you are not painting with paint, but painting with air!
Love painting? Check out how to easily paint a watercolor tree with unusual and fun methods in just 10 minutes!