Magical Northern Lights

Magical Northern Lights

A nighttime scene of the northern lights created with colorful chalk pastels

Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, is a magical-like display of colors in the night sky. These nighttime light shows are usually seen in areas of the world that are in the northern hemisphere and close to the North Pole. It is rare that we will experience a Northern Light display in the Brandywine River Valley, which is a perfect reason for us to explore these colors of the night sky in our art! 

Photo of white and black pieces of paper, chalk pastels, a paper towel, scissors, and a sharpie

Gather Your Supplies

You will need: 

  • Black paper
  • Scrap paper (cardstock/heavier paper works the best)
  • Paper towel
  • Scissors
  • Writing tool (I used my handy-dandy Sharpie)
  • Chalk pastels
  • Tape 

Step 1:

Black horizon line drawn onto a piece of white paper

The first step is to separate the sky from the land. Using a writing tool, draw a horizon line on a sheet of scrap cardstock that is the same length as your black paper, cut it out and then tape it down to the bottom half of your paper. 

Step 2:

Black piece of paper with a piece of white paper on the bottom half and blue chalk pastels being colored on top

Color the top edge of your stencil with shades of blue and white chalk pastel and then blend it up onto the black paper with a piece of paper towel. 

Pro tip: Only blend away from your stencil, never back towards it. If you blend back toward your stencil your lines will not be clear.

Step 3:

Pink and purple chalk pastels being added to the nighttime scene

Choose part of your horizon to start the explosion of color. Many times, the Northern Lights are made up of different shades of blues, greens and yellows, as well as purples and pinks. Color a section of your horizon line stencil with a new color and blend up onto the black paper.  

Pro tip: Don’t make your color span the entire horizon line in this step. The key is to have some color variation in the sky!

Step 4:

A pair of scissors and a cut out piece of white paper on top of the nighttime scene

Draw and cut a wavy line out of scrap cardstock to make a new stencil. 

Step 5:

Green chalk pastels drawn on top of the nighttime scene

Place your wavy line stencil above the horizon line stencil, color the top edge of it with whatever color you choose and then blend up on the black paper. Repeat this step by moving your stencil higher on your paper, coloring the edge, and blending up.

Pro tip: Vary your colors and angle of the stencil after each step of moving up the paper.

Step 6:

An almost finished northern lights scene with a white piece of chalk pastel on top of the artwork

It wouldn’t be a nighttime sky without stars! Use white chalk pastel to add clusters of stars in the sky.  

Future Fun: Imagine how this nighttime lightshow would look reflected in a body of water. How can you use this technique to show a reflection of the sky in your drawing?

Final product: a northern lights scene created with chalk pastels