Time for an end-of-the-week progress update on the ‘Young Astronaut’ commission.  The past week has been all about getting some color into the background of the painting. This is where things really start to get fun.

The first thing I did was to give the entire underpainting a thin, transparent glaze layer of Raw Umber and Ivory Black. The glaze adds some warmth, texture, and depth to the underpainting, and I really like how it looks in the few areas where it peeks through the color layer. It also darkenes the overall value range of the underpainting even further than the limited-value palette used to paint it, which gives me more room to really punch up the whites and highlights, and give the earth a nice glow. While the glaze was wet, I painted into it with transparent blues and black to get the haze effect of the atmosphere and block in the larger gradients of color. I like the effect so much more than when I’ve tried to accomplish it with direct painting and opaque colors.

Once the glaze it had dried, I was able to come back in and work on the finer details. I had a ball playing around with the cloud forms and their shadows, the play of the sunlight grazing over the tops of the highest clouds, and some subtle hints of city lights in the deeper shadows. It’s a good looking planet we’ve got here!

As long as I was doing some high altitude landscape painting, I made a few passes over the moon, first adding the distinctive larger shapes, and then some impact crater detail. It’s so much more interesting than the featureless gray ball that was hanging in the sky of the underpainting.

I loved drawing the space shuttle when I was a kid. It turns out that painting it is even better. Eight-year-old me would be giddy. And what a crazy combination of textures and facets! As for the section of space station in the corner, I think pulling in some blues reflected from the earth and just that tiniest bit of sunlight were just what it needed.


The next couple of weeks will be devoted to color work on the actual focus of the painting, the young astronaut in the foreground.