Tutorial: Starry Night Belly Painting


Being pregnant is a very special time, so moms-to-be often want to celebrate this time through belly painting. Belly painting is a fun experience not only for the mother, but for the painter as well! This is your time as a painter to really showcase your skills and make something very special for the client. While some moms may want the simple teddy bear or flowers, it is important for you to be able to offer a variety of designs and styles that will suit a variety of mothers’ interests.

In this tutorial, I will show you something a little different than the common teddy bear or baby design. This painting will be based off of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, and will appeal to the artsy moms. This is an impressive design that is surprisingly simple to accomplish.



The first thing you do for this design is use a white or light colored paint to draw a circle on the belly. You can trace something such as a large bowl if you cannot create a symmetrical shape by hand. An oval shape may also work depending on the woman’s body. Then, outline all of the major parts of the design such as the large tree in the front, the rolling hills in the back, and the general direction and placement of the swirls and stars in the sky. It is very helpful to look at the original painting of ‘Starry Night’ to get a better idea of the placement of everything,


Next, use a round brush to create short, messy, horizontal strokes in the background with your dark blue paint. Roughly fill out the swirl and the stars with white paint so that the light colors will appear more brilliant when you place them on top. This is just the first base layer, so everything can and should be a little rough and messy.


After you have the base layer down, start to layer colors. Fill the large swirl with a mixture of your Lagoon Blue/lighter blue paint and some white. Then, add a little bit of black to your dark blue and add it to the edges of the sky. This adds more dimensionality and interest. Always use short, wispy strokes. I also cleaned up the edges at this point.


This is the step where things really start to come together. Simply fill in the tree with black using short vertical strokes to give it that illusion of upward motion and texture. Then, fill in the hills with dark blue; add the black-blue to the edges or where the mountains overlap, and use your lighter blue to add highlights on the tops of the mountains and flat areas. The buildings in the front can be very roughly sketched; I just created some rough looking house shapes and a tall pointed building really quickly with black.

To finish off the sky, simply use your Wolfe Skinz paint in the color Fair to add some strokes on top of the white stars and randomly within the large swirl. Then, mix in a little bit of yellow and layer in some more. Finally, mix in orange and create dots in the middle of the stars and create the moon shape on the right hand side of the painting. It really is just about layering, highlighting, and creating shadows.


Finally, make little c shapes at the bottom of the hills using dark blue and a pale blue-white mixture. Fill the buildings with neutral colors such as a light brown (I just mixed a little bit of dark brown in with the Wolfe Fair color), and add interest by adding some blue and dark brown accents.

Use your dark brown and deep sea/teal colored paint to add some accents to the tree in the foreground. Do not go crazy on this, just use thin vertical lines to help define the object.

Then you’re done!


Additional Options

To take this design even further, you could add some embellishments around the outside edge of the shape. It is up to your personal taste.

Another option is to get rid of the circular shape altogether. The mother’s entire belly could act as a canvas and you could recreate ‘Starry Night’ all across the mother’s body. This option may take slightly longer, but again, it is up to your personal taste and the wishes of the mom-to-be.