Oh My Watercolor! Photos and a NASA-inspired Creative Prompt

Galactic Starry Space

Hello, hello, hello! I hope you’re doing well. Today, I’m happy to share with you part one of a two part project I’m working on. As you may recall, January’s theme for my year-long creative challenge was “Play!” Last night, I tried a new technique I’ve never attempted before–watercolor! A few weeks ago, I wrote a poem about hope and decided to illustrate it. Thanks to my friend and comics professor Ursula Murray Husted, she suggested I do the lettering separately because I’m using cold press paper.

Before I get to my photos, I have a new Creative Prompt for you. It’s all about spppppaaaaaaccccccceeeeeeeee!

Creative Prompt: Using NASA as Inspiration

Today’s prompt is for all you writers out there. Did you know that NASA publishes a photo of the day? Photos are a fantastic way to get your creative juices flowing, because they act as an anchor to generate ideas. Sometimes, they post pictures of moons, astronauts, nebulas–oh my!

Using NASA’s Photo of the Day as inspiration, write about that photo. You could:

  • Tell a science fiction story starring a heroic scientist or astronomer
  • Write a poem about how space is big. Reaaaaaalllly, really big!
  • Describe how you’d live on the surface of a moon
  • Create an alien ship or species that lives on a spaceship
  • Design a want ad for astronauts flying to Mars

Or, if you’re all out of ideas? You could write a fan letter to NASA, instead. I’m sure they’d love to hear how wonderful their scientific exploration and efforts are, and how their photos inspire you!

From Watercolors to Nebulas

Since I wanted to try something new, I thought I’d post some pics to show you how I took my background over the finish line. New is scary–even for me! The first picture is of a background that I knew I was going to add stars to. I chose colors I might see in a nebula, to give the background a little dimension. The color does vary a little bit–I also learned that lighting makes all the difference in the world. Definitely need to keep that in mind for the future!

Step two was to add the stars. I thought about where the stars might be visible, since some gaseous clouds would be thicker in spots than others. To add a little dimension, my first instinct was to add two shooting stars (e.g. comets).

Ehhhh… I wasn’t happy with that second comet, because the perspective felt off to me. I didn’t want to paint over the whole piece, but I didn’t think it worked, either. So, I decided to paint over it and add more black for more contrast. This is what it looks like before I added more stars.

Annnnnnnd, voila! The final version! Believe it or not, this is a picture I took from my iPhone in much better lighting. I’m pumped, because I don’t have to scan it and the photo really brought out the layers of paint I was working with. For part two of this project, I’m going to hand-letter my poem. You’ll see that in a future post!





Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

Want an interview? If you’d like to interview me or request a guest blog post, please connect with me via the contact page, too. Due to time constraints and other communicative concerns, I typically don’t follow up on requests via social media.

Keen on sending fan mail? I am also happy to engage with readers and fans. Please note that I am unable to reply satisfactorily to certain types of queries related to the companies I work for due to the agreements I typically sign. If you have a question about a TV show or a line of books, the best way to get your answer is to contact the studio or publisher directly.

Back to Top