Hi guys! We're very pleased to announce that Alyssa Robinson of IG: @arobinsonartis taking over our blog today to show us how she creates one of her ethereal moon paintings. Though watercolors have quite the reputation of being difficult to master, this talented artist will be breaking down her step-by-step process for us so we can practice replicating this beautiful artwork with ease.
Hope you have lots of fun getting some practice time in with this wonderful tutorial! Take it away, Alyssa!
Hello, friends! My name is Alyssa Robinson (@arobinsonart on Instagram), and I’m a freelance artist based in Tucson, AZ. I began my online journey about two years ago originally lettering with Crayola markers, but soon discovered my love for painting with watercolor. One of my favorite subjects to paint is the moon. It’s a challenging and meditative process, and today I’m going to detail that process for you!
Watercolor paper (I’m using Bee Paper’s watercolor sketchbook 8”x 8”, 140 lb, 300 gsm - a thicker paper is ideal because of how much water and layering is involved)
Watercolor in your choice of color, along with a black and a white (in this piece I’m using Artistic Isle’s Blue Columbine, and to get a darker shade I add a little black. Toward the end I use white for details. I recommend pan watercolors over liquid for this because dry paint will come in handy for texture.).
Reference photos (This can help you when you’re forming craters and arranging them, but I don’t get too caught up in making mine look accurate. Many moon photos show the craters concentrated to one side, some rough surface texture, white specks, and those white lines radiating from a single small point).
Here is a timelapse video of me painting a moon! More in-depth instructions listed below. Remember, this video distills about an hour of work into 30 seconds - be patient!
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO BELOW:
HOW TO PAINT A MOON WITH WATERCOLORS:
Use your compass to draw a circle (mine is about 6” in diameter).
Using your large round brush (round 7), cover the circle with a thin layer of water.
Start laying down paint, letting it spread on its own (this is the base shape of your craters). Also add shading around the edges for a sphere effect.
Let this first layer dry partially, then add the darker shade on top of where you originally started your craters, add a couple other small craters in the emptier spots (keeping them light so your moon doesn’t lose that sphere shading).
Let this layer dry completely, either naturally or with a heat gun if you want to speed up the process (mine is an embossing gun by The Paper Studio).
Then using a smaller round brush (round 2) add more dark paint in the craters. I paint with harsh lines initially and then go back around the edges with the brush (semi-dried off) to diffuse it out. Craters are a back-and-forth of blending but not blending too much because harsh lines help maintain their shape. To create a hole-effect I concentrate dark paint on one side of the crater or around the perimeter so it doesn’t just look flat.
Dry your small round brush off, get some paint on it, and then start rubbing it around the edges and in some of the emptier areas. This will help expose the texture of your watercolor paper and in turn will give your moon a bumpy, rough surface. Use some water to smooth out any areas that look too harsh or out of place.
Using a smaller round brush (round 1) paint a tiny circle toward the bottom of your moon, and smooth out the edges with your brush. Then paint very faint, thin lines radiating from around that circle. Use some white paint to help the lines come through on the darker parts of the moon.
Splatter some white paint and some darker paint around. For smaller splatters use less water on your brush. There are lots of ways to go about this - I prefer to just tap the hilt of the brush as I move it around over the paper. Use a semi-dry brush to rub out any splatters that you’re not pleased with.
And there you have it! Like I said before, take your time and be patient with this process. I work on moons for at least an hour trying to get the craters and texture to look the way I want. What’s important is that you enjoy yourself and take time to contemplate the beauty of the celestial body you’re recreating.
CHECK OUT THE FINISHED PIECE BELOW:
Have a question about this process? Comment below and we'll do our best to answer you!
To see more of Alyssa's work, visit or contact her on the following channels: