Becoming an Artist of Space Paintings

So you want to learn how to paint space paintings. Learning how to draw and paint planets, moons and landscapes of alien worlds can be a lot of fun. Space art is such a fun genre of painting and, indeed, a favorite one for many artists. Some artists specialize in just this one genre of art, preferring to leave behind the boundaries of Earth for some otherworldly landscapes. They have become recognized as “space artists” or “astronomical artists”.

Reference Material for Space Art

As you can imagine, astronomical artists have a bit of a challenge when it comes to reference material for their space paintings. After all it isn’t like they can go out to some off world location to paint. They must rely on photos supplied from various sources or paint from pure imagination. A few pull out their telescopes or stare up into the night sky for inspiration. NASA can be a source for some reference photos that can be used to create space art from. Various other agencies, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Astronomy Magazine, or National Geographic, among others. (However, you must be careful not to violate copyright if using images from magazines.) All of these can be a source of reference photos from which to compose your space art paintings from. “Googling” keywords such as NASA photos, space flight photos, etc. can render a large selection to choose from.


space art painting Neil Armstrong astronaut“First Man on The Moon”
Space Art by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

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Still many space artists choose to travel all around the world looking for suitable typography to do their preliminary sketch work from for their space paintings. So much so, they become students of geography and most notably any type of land formation that can be transformed into an off world landscape on some distant planet. They are guided by science and their imaginations to compose striking moonscapes or other landscapes of alien worlds.

Some of the most beautiful space paintings ever seen had their beginnings using a popular software program called “Photoshop”. This computer program has the ability to assist artists in composing their paintings. Many artists frequently use this software program to compose their paintings. They can easily do this because the program allows them to move elements in a photo around, remove other distracting parts and even combine several photos into one to see what it will look like before transferring the composition to canvas. By composing your painting this way, it will allow you to work out problematic areas of your painting before you even put brush to canvas. In composing a composition for space art, the artist can take the space shuttle from a NASA photo and combine it with an image of a distant planet taken from a photo and include some bizarre rock formations from yet another photo. Add a black sky sprinkle it with stars, space gas and other space debris. You now have the makings for a very exciting space painting.

What to Include in Your Space Paintings

If you are interested in creating space paintings there are certain elements that you might want to include in your painting to make it qualify as space art. Such things as nebula, stars of course, perhaps a moon, a planet, and maybe even some space dust. These would make a very nice subject matter for space art. Another painting might have the same, but a few additional elements you might consider adding to you composition is a space craft of some sort or even a distant sun. Rugged alien landscapes make great space art too, especially if you include a recognizable planet like Saturn or Jupiter in the dark sky. Alien landscapes could include a vast horizon of sharp mountain formations rising to meet the sky. Pot holes created by meteors and meteorites hitting the surface are a great feature that makes the surface look more alien too. Frozen planetoids can be the subject of your painting. The possibilities are simply endless since you are only limited by your imagination.


lunar landscape painting on canvas“Moonset”
Space Art by Teresa Bernard
20″ x 16″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas

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Supplies You Will Need To Create Space Paintings

If you want to be an astronomical artist, you will need some supplies to get yourself started. The supplies you will need is canvas, either board or stretched, tubes of oil or acrylic paint, an assortment of brushes, and some medium. For more information about what art supplies you need, see article titled Complete List of Art Supplies for The Beginning Oil Painter.