I was born in northern Finland, so I've had the privilege of seeing the northern lights several times in my life. They never fail to impress me. In this tutorial, I will show you how I paint the northern lights with watercolors and how you can paint them as well.
What You´ll Need
The Wet-On-Wet Technique
The wet-on-wet technique I used involves wet paint on a wet surface. It's important that the paper stays in place, so I'd recommend taping it onto the table underneath. I often use masking tape or washi-tape to do this because they don't contain too much glue. This makes them easy to peel off without ripping the paper.
1. Add a Wash
Wet your paintbrush and go over the whole paper. Don't use any color at this point.
2. Drip the Paint
You can't see it from the pictures, but I'm using an easel to paint. This allows the paint to drop and create interesting effects. Start by applying the colors. I started with a mixture of green and blue and then moved on to purple. The colors mix in the paper. At this point, only your imagination is the limit for the colors you use.
3. Add Another Layer
After the first layer has dried, apply another layer and use brighter colors this time. Let the colors spread and mix with each other.
4. Paint the Northern Lights
If you've ever seen the lights, you'll notice that they have this ”curtain” type of look to them. You can easily create this effect with a sponge.
5. Add Snowflakes
Now, it's time to add some snowflakes! I used the toothbrush technique.
6. Paint the Trees
Add tall spruce trees to finish the landscape. For this, I used black acrylic paint. I wanted to create it from the perspective of a viewer looking up to the sky. The trees that are ”closer” are bigger, and the ones that are farther away are smaller. It's all about perspective
How To Paint Northern Lights With Watercolors Tutorial
There is nothing like the sea. Large and mysterious. Corals, exotic fishes and all those colors.
Marker on sketchbook.
Living in balance with nature
Saami people are the native people of northern Europe. Saami land reaches from the northern parts of Norway, Finland and Sweden to Kuola peninsula in Russia. In these modern times you can find Saami´s in all kinds of professions but back in the days majority of the saami´s were fishermen, hunters and above all reindeer herders. Nomadic lifestyle was natural way of life for many saami´s. They knew all about the constellations, movements of the sun, moon, stars and the northern lights. Saami stories and folk tales were told orally from one generation to another. Few hundred years ago in Finland, Sweden and Norway pagan beliefs of the saami´s were suppressed and many Saami´s converted into Christianity. Because of this slowly old stories vanished. Now we have only fragments left of the Saami myths and legends.
Beiwe The Sun Goddess
Because there are many different Saami languages the written form of the names varies. Sun was called Beiwe/Beaivi. In the Saami culture deities were not always personified. Often deities were seen as invisible spirits living inside rocks, rivers, stars, northern lights and such. Beiwe was one of the most important deities in the Saami culture because during winter in Lapland sun does not come out at all. Darkness lasts several months and even though snow reflects moon light, darkness still had it´s effects on the mental health and well being of the people. Sun was greatly missed during the long winter months. Summer was seen as the time of warmth and abundance.
When sun was in it´s human form it was called Beaivvi Nieida the sun maiden. Beaivvi Nieida was connected to spring and fertility. Her sacred animal was the white reindeer. During summer solstice people made sun wheels from twigs, flowers and leaves and hanged them into the trees. Beiwe was connected to the fertility of the earth and well being of plants, flowers and animals.
There was a custom to sacrifice white animals to Beaivvi Nieda in the midwinter ritual to welcome back the sun. If there was not white animals available animals who had white ribbons attached to their ears were sacrificed. Other traditions that were part of the ritual was to lit fires that represented the sun. There was a custom to sprinkle fat to the door edges which sun would eat and become stronger before turning back to the sky after it´s long rest. Animal sacrifices were only made during winter. Otherwise that would have been impolite because flames might have been shining brighter than the sun itself.
Gifts for the sun
In the Lapland of Sweden there was a custom to bake so called "sun cakes" from reindeer blood. These cakes were hung into the trees and were left for the sun to "eat".
In the Lapland of Norway saami´s left sacrificial porridge for the sun.
These sacrifices were made to make sure that reindeer's would stay healthy, so that predators would not get them and to cure sicknesses.
In February there was a custom for people to gather together into groups and walk to the ice to watch first glimpses of the sun after long dark months. Sun was greeted by bowing (this is a custom that was also practiced by several Finno-Ugric and Baltic tribes).
Three Goddesses of Spring
In Saami mythology there are three goddesses that are connected to the spring. Sometimes these goddesses are seen as aspects of Beaivvi Nieda and sometimes they are portrait as three different individuals.
Sala Niejta (Uumaja Saami) was a female spirit who had the power to order snow and freezing air to leave so she could bring the spring with her.
Rana Niejta (also known as Rana Niete, Rana Neida and Radien-Neito) was the goddess of the earth. Her name literally means green fields/green grounds. She made the flowers and the herbs grow and turned mountains green in the summer. Rana Niejta belongs to the family of Radien-Spirits who were group of Saami deities that had power over human lives.
Servge Edni was third goddess in the group. She was one of the spring maidens bringing new life with her.
Sun in the Shaman Drums
In Saami shaman drums sun, moon and the stars are common motifs. In so called heliocentric drums sun is painted to the middle of the drum. Saami drums are quite exceptional what it comes to shaman drums. In different cultures, drums where the skin is completely decorated with patterns can only be found from the Saami´s and among some tribes in Siberia who speak Samoyed-languages.
Mánnu the Moon
When the sun was many times described as feminine, moon in the Saami myths was described to be masculine. Since there was very little day light, winter was considered to be suspicious time with lots of evil spirits wondering among the living, Mánnu being one of them. People thought Mánnu was very suspicious spirit. Why he came out to the skies during the night when all nature was asleep?
Older stories describe the moon more as a magical and mysterious spirit. Later on with more influences coming from Christianity moon got more bad reputation and features from the Christian devil.
Distracting the Moon
There was a custom to sacrifice hay to the moon. This can refer into older totemic belief that there might have been some kind of an animal spirit who lived in the moon.
December was believed to be the month when there was evil spirits wondering around and moon was sometimes described to be their leader. People were very careful not to irritate the moon. During December people did not like to stay outside for long periods of time. It was not allowed to do loud chores like chop fire wood and women were careful not to gossip or laugh.
In February when sun was coming back people gathered together outside under the full moon. They had pans and drums with them and they made loud noise to distract the moon and told him to go away so that the sun may return.
Battle between sun and the moon is something that can be found from many myths and stories around the world. Suspicion towards the moon comes from people´s fear towards the night and darkness. During the time without no electric lights when people did not knew that much about the surrounding world it was easy to let one´s imagination run wild and imagine all kinds of dangers that were waiting in the dark. Returning of the sun was a promise of hope.
Girl(s) drawin to sketchbook. I used a willow twig as a pen. Maybe you can see..Suzy Lee and Tove Jansson are some of my favorite illustrators.
Colors of the Rainbow
One of the things I remember from three mandatory color-theory courses from art school is that there are three primary colors and all the colors between them are secondary colors. Colors are all around us. The officially recognized colors are found from the spectrum. Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Secondary colors are purple, orange, brown, green and all the shades between them. White and black are not official colors because they don´t exist in the spectrum. Yet we can find them in nature. Color symbolism is very interesting especially because in different cultures colors have different meanings.
Day of the week: Tuesday
Horoscope signs: Scorpio, Leo, Gemini and Aries
Red is often said to be the color of life because blood is red. Red is color of passion, fire and energy. In China red is color of good luck, happiness and prosperity. Often Chinese bridal dresses are red. Relatives and friends give red envelopes for the Wedding couple. These envelopes have money inside but it is not the money that counts. What counts is the amount of envelopes which symbolizes fertility. Color red is connected to war fare and aggressiveness. Color red gives warning signs from the coming danger. Red is color of sex, eroticism and passion. This is why from several cities you can find questionable "streets of the red lanterns". War and love are often connected together. It is no coincidence that color red is connected to both Cupid and the Christian devil. In politics color red usually refers to nonconformist groups. Red is also the color of love and connected to Valentine´s Day. Symbol of Valentine´s day is a red heart. In flower symbolism red rose represents ever lasting passionate love.
Magical use of the color red
Red is connected to courage and bravery. Could this be the reason why Gryffindor colors are red and gold in the Harry Potter books?
In magical use color red symbolizes confidence. If you want to get noticed wear red clothes with pride. It is often used in love magic and a women´s healing spells that are related to menstrual cycle.
Red is one of the most sacred colors in India and there it has many meanings. In India red symbolizes: wealth, power, fire, purity, fertility, love, beauty and seduction. In South-Africa color red symbolizes mourning and in China red is the color of the new year and represents long life.
Planet: The Sun
Day of the week: Wednesday
Horoscope signs. Taurus, Gemini, Libra, Archer and Pisces
Yellow is connected to optimism, summer, sun, childhood, inner child and friendship. Bright yellow is color of getting attention. Combination of yellow and black is often used in warning signs. Black and yellow is one of the easiest color combinations to see long distances. This is why taxis and school buses are painted with yellow and black.
Very bright yellow with another stimulating color like red can cause great deal of stress for people. This is why many don´t feel good about staying long time periods in places that are painted with yellow and red. This kind of color psychology is often used in fast food restaurants. Color stimulation invites clients in but because of the stimulation clients wont spend that much time sitting inside the restaurant.
Yellow is connected to memory and intelligence. People who like yellow tend to have good imagination. Yellow can also increase mental activity and stimulate the nervous system.
Magical use of the color yellow
Yellow is the color of spring and Easter/Ostara. Symbols of Easter like eggs, and small chickens can all be yellow. Many spring and summer flowers are yellow like daffodils, sun flowers, dandelions and buttercups. Yellow symbolizes the sun and the time when sun is closest to the earth. Yellow is spontaneous color and it is often used in children´s products and marketing advertisements aimed at children. In different cultures yellow has different meanings. In Japan yellow is the color of bravery and courage. In India yellow is the color of merchants. In Egypt both yellow and gold are colors connected to death. They were used to decorate the mummy sarcophagus and tombs before going to the after life. In Africa color yellow is connected to people with wealth because it is the color that is closest to gold. In magical use yellow fits well to spells performed during midsummer solstice. Color yellow can attract new friendships and exiting events.
Element: Water, Air
Planet: Neptune, Jupiter, Mercury and Uranus
Day of the week: Friday
Horoscope signs (dark blue): Virgo, Taurus, Libra and Archer
Horoscope signs (light blue): Libra, Taurus, Archer, Aquarius and Pisces
Blue is calming and healing color. Blue represents peace, tranquility, inspiration, freedom, sensitivity and the dream world. Blue is color of both sky and the sea and is connected to open spaces. Color blue can have positive effects to our body and mind. It can cause body to produce chemicals that are calming and reduce our stress level. There are different shades of blue. Indigo blue is connected to consciousness and is used to decorate meditative spaces. In folk magic color blue was used to protect people from the evil eye.
In Greece there was a custom to paint all doors and window frames blue to prevent evil spirits from entering
Once in a Blue Moon
English expression once in a blue moon refers into an event that is very rare. In folk magic term blue moon refers into a month when moon is full twice and the second one is called the blue moon.
Color combination of black and blue is dynamic and can be found from gym and sport clothes. Flags of Finland and Greece only have white and blue in them. In Finnish flag white symbolizes the sky and blue Finland's´s thousands lakes. In Greece´s flag white symbolizes the sky as well and the blue symbolizes the sea.
Blue can be a very strong color. It is used to symbolize sincerity and heraldry. In many cultures blue is important religious color in rituals. Color blue communicates trust and this is why police officers and fire men wear blue uniforms.
In Hinduism blue is the color of Krishna. One of the most beloved Hindu gods who embodies love and happiness. In Judaism blue is color of holiness. In many Latin American countries blue is the symbol of hope and purity and the color of Virgin Mary. In many Middle Eastern cultures blue symbolizes heaven, spirituality and immortality. There are not that many blue foods around. Foods that are colored blue like blue berries are extremely vitamin-rich. Blue is a healing color that can be used as meditative color for weight problems, self-care and self-love.
Day of the week: Saturday
Horoscope signs (dark green): Taurus, Aries, Crab, Libra, Capricorn and Aquarius
Horoscope signs (light green): Virgo and Pisces
Green is the dominant color in the natural world. Green is connected to life, Gaia, earth, trees, health, happiness, summer, growth, fertility, safety, harmony, balance, jealousy, finances, money, wealth and banking.
Green is connected to motherhood, planet Venus and inner child. It is also told to be the favorite color of fairies and pixies. Green is about growth and rebirth connected to seasons of spring and summer. Time when nature is coming alive again.
Green helps to control nervousness, depression and anxiety. This is why hospital interiors are often painted with light shades green and doctors wear green clothes. Green stands for safety and environmental friendliness. It is commonly used to promote nature friendly products.
Green can also have more sinister meanings. Color combination of black and green has been often connected to evil witches. Green can also symbolize jealousy, misfortune and addiction. Green drink absinthe is also known as the Green Fairy.
Magical use of color green
Combination of green and red are often associated to Christmas. Red and green are also complimentary colors and come out as vibrant when used together.
Term "Green eyed-monster" refers to an envy or a jealous person.
In many South-American cultures color green symbolizes death.
In China men should not wear green hats it means that their wives are cheating on them.
In magical use color green ifs perfect for self-care and groundng. Green color is also fitting for money and prosperity spells.
Planet: the Sun
Horoscope signs: Leo and Archer
Day of the week: Sunday
The color orange is connected to the sun, flames, fire, passion, optimism, self-confidence and inspiration. In many western cultures orange is considered to be wild and edgy color. Orange is stimulating and vibrant. Combination of fiery red and more calming yellow. Color orange can create the sensation of heat. It is warm and hot color. Combination of black and orange are the colors of Halloween. Color orange itself is the color or autumn and harvest and can be found from color changing leaves and pumpkins.
Orange is popular color in restaurants representing contentment, hunger and stimulation. Fruits that are orange often have vitamin C and vitamin A in them.
In Egypt orange is the color of mourning and sadness.
In Netherlands orange is the color of the royal family.
In Japan and China orange symbolizes love, courage and happiness. In India color orange is color of life and vitality.
In magical use color orange can be used for refreshing.
Because orange is connected to harvest, autumn and seasons changing, color orange can be used to represent different transformations.
Element: water, air
Planets: Neptune and Pluto
Horoscope signs: Crab, Aquarius, Libra and Gemini
Day of the week: Thursday
Purple is a magical color that represents meditation and spirituality. Color purple is often connected to nobility, royalty, power, luxury and ambition, material and possession. In the past purple die was extremely difficult to produce because it was extracted from sea nails. As result purple and violet clothes were expensive and were only available for kings, queens and other rulers.
In many Catholic countries color purple is connected to sadness and grieving. In Brazil color purple is only recommended to use in funerals. In Lutheran church purple is also color of mourning.
Light purple or lavender represents womanhood, femininity and beauty. Light purple flower such orchids, lilacs and violets are considered to be gentle and delicate.
Because color purple is combination of both cool (blue) and warm (red) colors. It has both cool and warm properties. Color purple can inspire, boost up creativity and imagination. It can also be moody and melancholic.
Purple is a color that rarely exist in nature. It is considered to have other worldly meanings and is believed to be highly spiritual color. In magical use color purple is excellent for those who wish excessive their third eye and for anyone who has difficulties to focus on one thing at time.
Planets: Venus and Neptune
Horoscope signs: Gemini, Libra and Virgo
In many western cultures color pink is connected to love, romanticism, dreams, poets, femininity, caring and tenderness.
Compared to bright red pink is vivid but it is more calm and represents harmony and balance. Pink is connected to childhood, friendship, innocence and kindness. Hot pink communicates playfulness while light pink communicates tenderness. Both red and pink are colors of love but when red symbolizes passionate love pink is the color of charm, romance and flirting.
In Japan pink is gender-neutral color and is worn by both men and women. In Korea pink symbolizes trust.
It is believed that color pink reduces violent behavior and this is why many prison holding cells are painted with light shades of pink.
The color pink represents love so it can be used in love and relationship spells. Also in spells to attract more love and friendship to one´s life. It is also a color that is relaxing and creates serenity and it can be used to reduce stress.
Element(s): water, earth
Planet(s): Moon, Saturn and Pluto
Day of the week: Saturday
Horoscope signs: Scorpio, Aquarius and Capricorn
Color black is connected to night time, mysticism, wisdom, soil, growth, death, hatred, sophistication, mysterious, magic and darkness. According to folklore in all parts of the world world was born from darkness. Black color is told to be magnetic color that holds all colors inside it. Soil and dirt are black yet all life grows from them. Black is the color of both life and death.
In many western countries black is the color of mourning. During pre-Christian times it was believed that black color hided the funeral folk from the fay folk and evil spirits. In the past black fabrics were expensive. It was not unheard of for women to get married wearing a black dress.
In western cultures black was also color of misfortune and bad luck. This belief most likely started from people´s fear towards the night time and darkness. Black cats and black dogs were deliverers of bad news. Seeing a black bird was considered as a bad omen.
In magical use color black can be used in rituals where we are ready to let go of the past and welcome the new.
Element: Water, air
Planet(s): Moon and the Sun
Day of the week: Monday
Horoscope signs: Aries, Gemini, Crab, Pisces and Leo
Color white is associated with illumination, purity, virginity, softness, spirituality, heaven, love, humility, understanding, wisdom and goodness. Starting from 19th century by Queen Victoria of England white has been popular color of the wedding dress. White wedding dress symbolizes purity and virginity.
White is often connected to sterility and cleanness. It is also a very neutral color that is not disturbing or extremely stimulating. This is why many hospitals have white interiors. Because snow is white white is also connected to coolness. It is said to be color where all the other colors come from. Colors are born when ray of light touches the spectrum.
In many Asian countries white is the color of dead and mourning. In China funeral clothes are traditionally white.
In Finnish folklore white animals were believed to be omens of death. It was believed that death was peaceful and not to be feared. Only a gateaway between the new and the past life.
In magical use color white is widely used in rituals related to channeling, divination and fortune telling. It can also be used in rituals connected to imagination and lucid dreams.
Horoscope signs: Taurus, Virgo, Scorpio and Capricorn
Brown is the color of the earth and it is very grounding color. Color brown symbolizes home, nature, safety, parenthood, wood, sand, dirt and harvest. It is connected to the seasons of Autumn and Winter. Brown is considered to be very cozy color creating feelings of relaxation.
Combined with green these two colors represent nature and anything earth-related. It is also believed that color brown increases appetite and this is the reason why it is often used as decorative color in restaurants.
In magical use color brown is connected to shape sifting and shamanism. Animals that have brown fur are common totem animals and represent wisdom and understanding. Nature plays big part in shamanic practice. Most simple way for grounding is to go for a walk in to the forest.
Artist and Illustrator. Mythology and Folklore enthusiastic. Keen traveler and a Fairy Shaman.
Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea, and such.