Create Your Own 'Starry Night' Artwork

Updated: Mar 31

Here is how I created my own interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh's masterpiece, 'Starry Night', which I have used as the background for this collection of handmade greetings cards.

Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' is one of my all time favourite pieces of art and in 2014, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to see it in person at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

I'm no art critic but here's my best attempt at describing what I love about it: The range of colours create depth in what could at first be seen to be quite a muted palette. The spirals and swirls create a sense of movement that really brings the painting to life. The post-impressionist style makes for a somewhat fantastic landscape that's still grounded in reality.

As a fan of all things fantasy, I just love the magical quality of this masterpiece.

As this painting has always been a favourite of mine, I have often been tempted to have a go at painting my own interpretation. However, being fully aware that I do not possess the same skills as Van Gogh and knowing that oil paints are also not a medium that I work best with, I have been reluctant to attempt it.

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?" - Van Gogh

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced” - Van Gogh

With these quotations in mind though, I recently decided to finally give it a go. I was pretty happy with the result so thought I'd share my methods with you. 😊

Step-by-Step Guide

Tools and Materials:

  • Black A4 card

  • Acrylic Marker Pens

  • Scrap Paper (for testing colours and technique)

Originally, I intended to use acrylic paints applied with a paintbrush, however after recently purchasing some acrylic marker pens, I decided to use this approach instead as they give me the same level of control I have when drawing with pens or pencils - my preferred tools.

I also chose to apply the paint onto a black background due to it being a night scene. Furthermore, the black background is much more forgiving if, like me, you find yourself leaving some areas of the paper untouched. Honestly, it would take more time than I have to fill in every bit of the page.

Step 1:

Draw a simple outline of the main shapes - the swirls, the stars, the moon and the foreground. If you plan only to paint the background (as I did), you will have to use your own creativity to fill in those parts of the background that remain unseen in the original artwork.

Step 2:

Next, use the main colours of dark blue, light blue, white, yellow, orange (and black/dark brown if painting the foreground) to largely fill the main areas using a range of long and short fluid strokes. Try to follow the direction of the lines seen in the original painting in order to retain a similar sense of movement.

Step 3:

Begin to add more subtle shades of colour such as grey, turquoise, beige, gold and brown to give your artwork more depth. Do not worry about being too perfect. Layer the colours on top of each other, always using those free and fluid strokes rather than a continuous line.

Step 4:

Take a step back and look at your artwork as a whole. Assess whether there are areas that need more paint and apply as necessary. Do you need to add any more colours to create additional depth? Are you happy with the final look of the painting? Make any final alterations and voila, your masterpiece is complete.

I have used my completed 'Starry Night' style background in a range of unique handmade greetings cards that can be found in my Etsy store.

It is important to remember that art is subjective and we tend to be our own worst critics. All that matters is that you enjoy the creative process and celebrate your own work. 🙌

I would love to see your interpretations of 'Starry Night' so if you find yourself having a go, share your results with me on social media.

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“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” - Van Gogh

For a more detailed analysis of my methods, watch the video below, in which you can see my creative process from start to finish.