One of the things on my bucket list is to see the northern lights. I feel like it’s a little bit of magic on earth and I just NEED to see it someday. But until that day, why not make your very own DIY northern lights painting? It’s super easy to make a northern lights painting with acrylic pouring because the fluid motion of the paint lends really nicely to illustrating the flowing motion of the lights.
If you’re pouring for the first time and would like more explanation on materials, processes, and terms, you can head on over to my Beginner’s Guide to Acrylic Pouring. You can also head over to my Comprehensive Guide to Acrylic Pouring Techniques for more information on all of the different techniques and my How to Thin Acrylic Paint for Acrylic Pouring post to learn all about pouring mediums!
So how do you make a northern lights painting with acrylic pouring? Well, the two techniques that I used were:
- Swipe Technique
What colors do you need to paint a northern lights painting?
When we think about creating a northern lights painting, the first color we need to think about is the color that we want to use for the night sky. This is going to the base color for our whole painting. I used black, but you could also use a dark blue if you wanted to.
Then we have to consider the colors of the actual northern lights themselves. I used neon colors because they almost exactly matched most of the pictures that I used as reference.
I would encourage you to find a picture of the northern lights that inspires you and use that to draw inspiration for your northern lights painting.
(If you’re curious about colors and color theory as it relates to acrylic pouring, head on over to my post about Choosing Colors for Acrylic Pouring and grab your FREE printable Color Wheel and Color Scheme Guides below!)
Materials You Will Need to Paint a Northern Lights Painting with Acrylic Pouring
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- Master’s Touch Permanent Black
- Artist’s Loft Neon Green
- Artist’s Loft Neon Pink
- Artist’s Loft Neon Yellow
- Artist’s Loft Neon Blue
- Your favorite swipe tool (baby wipe, paper towel, plastic, etc.)
How to Paint a Northern Lights Painting Video Tutorial
Step-by-step Northern Lights Painting with Acrylic Pouring
- Lay down a base coat of your night sky color across the entire canvas. Be sure to cover your edges as well.
- Pour your neon colors in horizontal line in the center of the canvas. (This will literally be where your horizon is.) The order that I laid my paints down was: neon green, neon pink, neon yellow, and neon blue. I kept the layout of the colors the same for either side of the center line so that the reflection effect would work out correctly
- Using your favorite swipe tool (for this one I used the plastic sheet that comes in the packaging for larger canvases), swipe from the center of the neon colors up toward the top of the canvas.
- Flip the canvas around and repeat the process for the other side.**
- Tilt the painting to elongate the colors if you wish.
**As you can see in the second video, when I pulled the plastic up from the second swipe, the paint dripped off of the plastic and back down into the pour. However, I thought that this was actually a happy accident because it forced me to reswipe, which I actually like better because that it means that it looks more like a faint reflection than a straight mirror effect.
I chose to embellish my painting with just a few trees and some stars to really let the northern lights shine (pun totally intended) in the painting. But you can add whatever you choose, maybe mountains, a thick treeline, whatever suits you.
- With a flat brush, clean up your horizon line with some of the background color.
- Blend the paint down from the horizon toward the bottom of the canvas.
- Using a fan brush, sketch in your trees, working from the bottom to the top. As you get to the thinner part of the tree, tilt your brush to one side of the other to reduce the width of the tree. Turn your brush vertical to add the thinnest part of the tip top of the tree.
- Using some thinned down white, dip a small, fine-tip brush into the paint and flick it onto the canvas. Remember that as you’re working on your embellishments, if you don’t like something, grab a baby wipe or a wet paper towel and wipe it off quickly.
- You can also use your fine-tip brush to go in and dot your stars where you’d like them.
Go Forth and Pour!
And that’s how you take the swipe acrylic pour technique and turn it into a northern lights painting! Easy as pie, and a great project for beginners to pouring and hand-painting alike! If you’re interested in other paintings of the sky, you might also like my posts on how to paint clouds, a sunset painting, galaxies, the moon, and space!
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