View Full Version : northern lights

Ellen Nesdoly
12-18-1999, 01:47 AM
I would like some help on how to paint the northern lights. I look out my window many nights and they are blazing across the sky, but I don't seem to be able to capture them. My sky is too dark or my colours get muddied up. Can you help? Thanks. Ellen N.

12-31-1999, 10:55 AM
ellen,,,i saw this post long ago and let it drop. what you ask is difficult to answer, especially if none of us experience the lights first hand. so rather than leave you hanging, i'll try to answer.
what you're painting is a shimmer. not something tangible, like a well lit cloud. it is light. how do you paint the sun in a blue sky? whew!!! who does!!!
well,,,here's what you don't do. i think you should avoid oils unless you paint photo-realistically. oils are too heavy. watercolors make the most sense because of the soft blurred edges you can create.
all i can say is that unless i attempt it myself, and see the possibilities as my understanding of the lights evolve,,,i have no way to guide you otherwise. as i type now, an idea is evolving... i would paint very large. this will even out all the heaviness and clumsinee you might encounter on a small scale. i would also lean towards graphic or abstract interpretations...trying to capture the essence rather than the reality. this may mean little or no "landscape",,,,just sky. at the most, a thin band of dark land at the bottom.
as to your specific problems. too dark a sky?,,,lighten it!! too muddy?? don't blend, do quick fast strokes. all the effort goes into the thought,,,the execution is fast.....milt

"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe

01-01-2000, 07:19 AM
I was thinking you might try looking at photos of the phenomenon..to let you see a 2D effect..then do your own colored pencil shetch(s) of what you see..then transform those into your painting..I also think watercolors would be the medium of choice..good luck with it

01-01-2000, 05:26 PM
I agree, watercolor is the way to go. Study your lights and try to pick out the main colors. Stretch and wet a large piece of watercolor paper, color mixs already prepared. place colors onto wet paper using a large brush and let them merge. Get the basic shape and color on your paper. Leave overnight to dry then rewet and define shapes you like,

02-21-2000, 02:07 AM
i think if you did this wet into wet with watercolour it would work best. and make sure that you layer your colors to give it the depth necessary to convince your viewer. watercolour dries lighter than it does when you put it down, so the temptation is to add more, but that's the DEVIL talking. he says, "go ahead.. add a little more" and before you know it you have MUD! and he's laughing.
so let your layers dry. you'll need to have some land to anchor the skyscape.
maybe just a small strip of dark silhouette trees or something, i dunno.
good luck to ya!

km (http://www.artistnation.com/members/lofts/kmarion/)