Painting the Night Sky

It might be mid winter, but in Malta, we’re pretty lucky with our long hours or sunlight, mild winters and relatively steady climate. What this island is unfortunately not very good for is stargazing, as there’s far too much light pollution – apart from in a few hard-to-get-to places – to see anything more than Polaris and the moon.

So perhaps it’s strange that I decided to paint the night sky. I’ll admit, sadly none of my paintings are painted from subjects I’ve been able to see or paint myself, but there’s a wealth of source material to use.

The challenge with painting the night sky, particularly in watercolours, is getting the right amount of depth and contrast, not easy! But after 2 years of painting the subject, I’ve come up with a few tips for painting a successful night sky scene.

Observe the sky as much as you can during the day particularly if, like me, you have nothing to look at during the night. Watch shifting clouds, changing light, how the sky transforms from powder blue to that deep, deep enveloping blue.


Take plenty of photos (again, in my case, I’m restricted to daylight/sunset/sunrise) as you’ll be surprised just how many colours there are that you don’t immediately see. Again, these observations will be useful for later night scenes.


Don’t use black paint. The only time I use black paint for a cosmic painting or a night sky is when I prepare a black acrylic base, upon which I’ll then paint my oils. Black looks to flat, and too dull. By all means, mix a touch of black into your deepest blues and create a ‘vignette’ edge to the piece, which will help create a greater sense of depth as well as draw the eye in.


Use many cool and deep tones, and warm colours. There are so many different moods you can create!


Use salt, for some really interesting ‘cloudy’ textures!

Unfortunately, the next time I’m feeling inspired, I won’t be able to look at more than a few little twinkling white dots from my roof, however, if I stop to think about it, those tiny twinkling balls are endlessly complex, fascinating, and inspiring all by themselves.



Cosmic Thoughts – Expression

No matter what medium you use to paint cosmic scenes – be it oils or watercolours in my case – they are full of inimitable expressiveness. Van Gogh painted his mythical night sky, Starry Night, using oils so thick it made the painting feel tactile. It’s as if Van Gogh was inviting you to touch that bright moon in a way you can’t in life. In watercolours, I find, the night sky feels more fluid. As if you can swim in the unreachable depths of space. As if the night sky is a free-flowing seascape. I don’t know what to choose, so I keep alternating between the two. Happily, may I add.

Swan Nebula Galaxy Watercolour Painting
Swan Nebula, Watercolours

You can learn more about my cosmic nature paintings here.

Sketchbook Explorations – The Arctic & Antarctic

With the temperature hitting 38 degrees plus, is it any wonder I crave snow?

I’ve always been fascinated and enamoured by the polar regions of our world; something about the glimmering ice, the constant change, and of course, the penguins. Now I’m working on some new paintings and watercolours focusing on these beautiful wildernesses. I’ve already begun a few watercolours which will hopefully be sketches for canvas paintings. I want to explore the dynamism of the ice, the shifting landscape, and the lives of the Arctic and Antarctic animals that are intimately bound to it.

Whalers Church, Watercolours, 2015
Polynya, Watercolours, 2015
Ursus Maritimus, Watercolours, 2015

Then I’ll be producing some more abstract paintings, exploring the features and different states of ice, and the animals that call it home. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in this theme whilst hopefully pushing my painting boundaries to discover new techniques and frames of mind along the way.

To find out more about commissioning a painting or to enquire about specific paintings for sale send me a message through my Facebook Page or take a look at my website: