Making of Serenity


It has been one of my favorite sci-fi shows, it is one of my favorite emotions, and now, it is one of my favorite paintings I’ve completed to date. Do I get to have favorites? Maybe that’s a blog for another time.

First of all, I want to apologize. I got quite caught up working on this painting and did not remember to take very many snapshots of the work in progress. One of these days I’ve got to figure out how to do the whole, time-lapse video thing, so I can make up for these ones where I can’t show the progress as much. Still, I hope it’s better than nothing.

The Birth of Serenity

Just like pretty much all of my artwork, Serenity began as a thought in my brain. I wanted to do a lighthouse painting. I wanted to do another nighttime painting. I wanted to do a beautiful wave with an epic crash painting. I began collecting inspiration. Looking at lighthouses, watching and recording video of waves, going out at night to study the moon, stars, and the characteristics of the nightsky in general. Eventually I had a good enough idea in my head and I sketched this down.

The Colors of Serenity

From the sketch I worked on getting the correct colors for the sky and ocean. I worked in some of the deeper shades into what I knew would be the ocean behind the main incoming wave. This is a little bit different, as I often will work from darkest colors up to lighter ones, but in the case of the ocean I laid down the base with what I assumed would be the most prevalent color.

I then brought in the basic colors I wanted to have in the lighthouse itself and also marked a place for the moon. The cliff itself is still in its original sketch state.

A Big Jump in Serenity

Yeah… there’s a pretty large leap from the last state to this one. I will try to go through everything anyway.

I quickly sketched in a large rock out in front of the cliff so I could create a large wave spray along with the wave itself. I then painted in the general idea of what I wanted the clouds to look like. I then painted in a lot of the texture waves both in front of, and behind, the main incoming wave. Once that was done I moved on to the moon. I spent too much time working on the moon itself, kind of got carried away, and eventually had to actually paint some detail out of it so it wouldn’t steal the show too much.

Once the moon was generally where I wanted it, I moved to the cliff and painted in some general textures, then I did the same for the lighthouse. Then I moved back to the cliff with more detail and back to the lighthouse again. I did this back and forth for a while, occasionally hitting the rock out in the ocean as well, until I felt the detail level was close to where I wanted it and moved onto the ocean.

I worked on the wave as a whole for the most part. Jumping around from one part to another, trying to coax it out all together. Eventually I had most everything done save the spray. Surprisingly, the spray around the rock turned out to be much more difficult to get the way I wanted it than the beautiful wave curl itself with the moonlight shining through.

Serenity Completed

Here it is in its finished state. I don’t think there is a single aspect of this painting that hasn’t received some attention since the last picture up above. I’ve tweaked the moon, especially the moon glow, to increase the contrast against the night sky. I’ve added a number of stars to the sky. I’ve added a lot more detail and reflective light to the clouds. I’ve added a lot more texture to the ocean and reflections of the moonlight.

I completed the wave on the left side of the rock and added more pop to many places in the waves themselves. I’ve added more detail and structure the cliff and its foliage. Obviously the lighthouse has been worked on a lot more. Far more detail to the basic structure, windows, the light and housing up top, and the glow of the light itself.

I originally painted this lighthouse with an open flame on top, but it totally changed the feel of the overall work. I was cautious about that going in, but still was surprised at the effect it had. I would have had to name the piece inferno or something like that instead of serenity.

I think that basically covers it. Again, I’m sorry for the lack of shots of it as a work in progress. This work has already gained a lot of attention and I’m sure many would like to know more about it. I guess a bit of mystery added to serenity isn’t a bad thing.

I hope you enjoy it, if you would like to own this in its full 18″ x 36″ sized glory, you can buy it here in the store.

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Here’s a couple of bonus close up images.

Michael Simpson