Watercolor Painting of a Nebula.

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Valeria, 4

I fell in love with watercolor a couple of months ago. After watching a few tutorials on YouTube, I realized that we could have meaningful and productive relationship. The absolute musts for that though are good quality paper, good quality paints and brushes, and a right approach.

For this class I settled on a fun and seemingly easy project of painting a Nebula using wet-in-wet technique.

Nebulae are fascinating. Who would have imagined that some dust and gas can create something so beautiful.

Crab Nebula
Fox Fur
Fox Fur

While painting we also discussed space facts and all my students turned out to be interested in the subject. Below are the 12 facts I gave to the kids; more could be found here and here.

  1. One million Earths could fit inside the sun. One million! and sun is not even a bi star. It’s average.
  2.   Comets are made of sand, ice and carbon dioxide. They are leftovers from the times when the solar system was created.
  3.  You will never be able to land on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune because they have no land. meaning,  they have no solid surface.
  4. A plane trip to Pluto will last 800 years.
  5.  Space garbage is made by humans, these are no longer useful satellites or fragments from rockets that are orbiting Earth.
  6.  There are more stars in the universe that grains of sand all over the Earth. But nobody knows how many.
  7. The Sunset on Mars looks blue.
  8.  You can not hear anything in space because it has no atmosphere.
  9.  Venus is the hottest planet in our Solar System.
  10.  A full NASA space suit costs $12,000,000
  11.  If you draw a heart on Moon it will be there for 100 million years. Why? No atmosphere, thus no wind or rain.
  12.  Scientists think that there must be a planet somewhere made entirely out of diamonds.

When they leaned about the diamond planet, they all wanted to go there. I agreed but suggested that we paint first.

As I wrote above we used a wet-in-wet technique ( you can find more on it if you follow this link) and that meant making a paper really wet before painting. The paper was taped to the table on all sides which allowed us to work without fear that it would move and stretched it a little, too.

Painting Nebulae is so forgiving, if someone says: “Oops, I think I made a mistake”. You can always assure that space is unpredictable and there are no mistakes there. Here are our creations:

Nicholas, 9
Sasha, 9
Ali, 10
Nicholas, 5
Victoria, 4

Before we made the stars we let the paintings dry a bit by using a blow dryer. It is funny how such a common tool becomes a hero of the hour during the art class.

To make the stars we used acrylic paint (thinned with water) and a coarse bristle brush. You can shake a brush over a painting  or tap a brush on a pencil to make some targeted clusters of stars.

One of my students tapping acrylic stars on her almost dry nebula’s panting.

As you can see, all my kids had fun with the painting and they had no idea that this technique is pretty challenging because it is unpredictable and the paint can not be directed too well. Just the same, they happily discussed after the class that Nebulae were fancy, watercolor was easy and space suit was very expensive.

Jean Michel Jarre’s spacey music was a perfect background because “Even the music is from space today” as on of the girls noticed. 🙂 That was the idea, of course.

Have fun and enjoy painting!



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