Lovelock, 1993. My first run at a starfield and space is ‘black’ correct? I got this!?

Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder how the f* to paint you.

The need to ‘come out of the gate’ at full speed as a new artist has never been so overwhelming.  Gotta have your composition down, perfect anatomy, color control, style, and rendering skills.

So many new artists look at other professional’s work online – portfolios, websites, social media threads – and think they were born perfect, brilliant artists from the start.

Siduri’s Net, 1994. My second star field and realizing space need not be ‘black’!

The catch is that professionals only show their best and most recent work, culling the older pieces, removing them from sight.  You very rarely see those early stumbling steps of career and artistic development – remember, it is a very biased lens you are looking at their art through.

To remove that lens, I’ve selected an example of science fiction composition ‘the star field’ and how through the years, bit by bit, I got better at them. I wasn’t the first take, nor the second, but after nearly a dozen works, I finally got to a place I was happy with!

Protector, 1994. Fourth pass at the subject, no real improvement, but going crazy with that splatter technique!

Luckily star fields were never the focus of the art in those early takes, thus they need not have been ‘perfect’ for my commercial clients.  This gave me the freedom to experiment technically and discover the ranges of possibility I could take ‘the star field’ and artistically represent the aesthetic.

It’s a road, not a rocket ship, that will get you there, step by step.


Maia’s Veil, 1994. Fifth time, a bit smaller, but still monochromatic.


Orion’s Dagger, 1995. Sixth, and learning that the soft halos around larger stars can work well for the ‘glow’ and create contrast with the smaller ones.


3001: A Space Odyssey, 1997. A step back for the Seventh attempt.


The Wire Continuum, 1997. Eighth time and back on course!


Highrises, 1999. Ninth time, and it’s OK if space is black (once in a rare while!)


2001: A Space Odyssey Revisited, 2000. Tenth run, and major break throughs! The stars can have individual, saturated halos and color, plus the nebula structures of the gas clouds and be played with as a design, imparting movement.


The Traveller, 2003. Ok, now I’ve got this. FINALLY! Ten years from the start…


The Outback Stars, 2006. It’s got STARS in the title!


The Majesty of Space, 2007.


The Mechanic, 2008. Now good and confident enough to make a demonstration video of my process.


Arthur C. Clarke, 2009. ‘It’s full of stars’


The North, 2020. Where I am now, bringing it into fantasy…