Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

COLUMN: Paint By Season/January 2023

Welcome to Paint by Season! My name is Raena Parsons, and I am an artist, poet, and educator living in Jackson, Wyoming.

Paint by Season is a new monthly column where you can follow along with me to create a monthly seasonal painting to celebrate the wonders of that season. I live in a harsh mountain climate that has two solid seasons (winter and spring) and occasionally has two short but sweet transitional seasons. My art reflects where I live and likes to pull from the joy of each season. For this month, we are celebrating the longest night of year with a night sky painting. Grab your paintbrushes and let’s get started!

To follow along with me you will need:

What you will need
  • A canvas (any size will do but mine is an 8×10)
  • One flat brush
  • One round brush
  • A toothbrush
  • Something to put your paint on (I use a paint palate, but you could use a plate or lid)
  • A water cup for rinsing brushes
  • A towel or paper towel to clean brushes
  • Paint (I used acrylic) in the following colors: dark blue, turquoise, burgundy, pink, black, white

Step One:

Step 1.

Prep your paint by placing about a quarter size dot of dark blue, turquoise, burgundy, pink, and about two quarters size dot of black paint on your palate.

Step Two:

Mix some of the black with the dark blue and the burgundy, do not fully mix your colors. Begin spreading that color on the upper half of your canvas.

Step 2.

Step Three:

Step 3.

Fill in the top 1/3 of your canvas with the mixture of black, dark blue, and burgundy paint. Do not fully mix your colors, you want streaks of color in your sky. Add turquoise and pink to the center of your canvas, mixing with the darker colors. At the base of your turquoise begin pulling in more the dark colors again.

Step Four:

Fill in the bottom 1/3 of your painting with the burgundy, dark blue, and black—this lower portion should mimic the upper portion. You should now have a fully painted canvas. Break here to let the background dry and to wash your brush.

Step 4.

Step Five:

Step 5.1.

We will be adding in northern lights here. Add some white to your palate. Mix some white with the turquoise and wet your flat brush with water and the mixed paint. Trace a winding shape in the upper third of your painting. Work quickly here as you don’t want the paint to dry. Begin pulling the paint up from your winding shape to mimic the shape of an aurora, you may need to wash your brush and just use water here. Mirror that same shape in the low third of your painting. Pull turquoise paint through the lower portion to mimic water.

Step 5.2.
Step 6.

Step Six:

Load your toothbrush with water and white paint, you want to use a thinner paint for this next step (hence the water). You will most likely get paint on you using this technique. Place your thumb on the toothbrush head (where the paint and water are) and position the paintbrush over the top portion of your canvas. Rake or pull your thumb over the toothbrush head to spray the white paint (we’re making stars here!).

Step 6.1

Step Seven:

Using the round brush and the black paint, add mountains to the upper part of the lower third of your painting.

Step 7.

Step Eight:

Use a tiny amount of white paint mixed with black to add a little dimension to your mountains. Create a rounded coastline with the black paint on the bottom corners of you painting. Add trunks for trees using the black paint.

Step 8.

Step Nine:

Using your round brush, feather branches out from your tree trunks. The branches should get longer and larger as you go down the trunk. Fill in all of your trees.

Step 9.1.

Step Ten:

Mix some white with water and black paint to add some snow to your tree branches. Congratulations, you’ve finished your painting!

Step 10.


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