Enjoying the ocean with its crashing waves and the salt air can be a mesmerizing experience.
Let's translate our ocean experiences to the artist's canvas.
Many of us have been to the ocean and have seen its beauty and wonder.
Let's look at the ocean closely and see what we can learn about how to paint ocean.
As we come toward the shore, the water starts to turn to a teal color. Closer to the shore the water is shallower and it turns green. When a wave rises up, it is a lighter yet because the light is passing thru the wave.
The water in
front of the wave is a lighter blue. This water is transparent. The blue
is neutralized by the sand color seen thru the transparent water.
It is thicker and it is in shadow. You can see the dark base in the center of the wave where it is cresting. Also, notice the dark shadows under the foam capping over the top of the wave.
The light direction will affect your entire painting. See the glints
of light on the right side of the ocean and the highlights on the right
side of the clouds. So we know the light is coming from the right.
Let's take what we have learned and do a basic seascape painting that includes a foam burst.
This painting was painted on 11x14 gallery wrap canvas with hog hair bristle brushes. More on How to Start a Painting
When you have it figured out then -
Normally I use thinned yellow paint because it is easy to paint over. This time I used Ultramarine Blue, so it would show up better in the photograph.
We will be blending the colors later or adding other colors on top of the blocked-in colors.
The first layer of paint needs to be thin. If the first blocked-in paint is too thick, it will just make a mess later.
Mix your blue and green for a dark color to start painting at the horizon.
Use more green as you come forward. Add a bit of white as you come forward more.
Put a few streaks of darker green on the light green areas to indicate shadowed water.
The wave will be darker at the base because the base is the thickest part of the wave.
Gradually lighten the wave towards the top by adding more white or a pale yellow.
Paint the spill-over with a lighter green because it is not very thick at all.
Mix your blue with white. If it looks too blue add a tiny touch of Burnt Sienna to tone it down.
The light is coming from the left, so the sky is lighter on the left and darkens slightly to the right.
The sky gets lighter toward the horizon. As you paint down to the horizon, add some white. Warm up the blue with a bit of green toward the horizon.
Horizontal water reflects the sky colors. So, paint the sky blue colors on the water in front of the wave.
When you are learning how to paint ocean, use your artistic license. Mix in some of the ocean colors for variety.
More blue makes the mix darker. Mix the color lighter or darker by varying the amount of blue. More about Mixing Paint Colors
The rocks will normally be darker down by the water where the get wet.
To help get the shape of the rocks, think of the rocks as a box with a top and sides.
Paint it where the sunlight would be striking.
The sun would be hitting the top of the clouds, the top of the foam areas and also some of the wavelets in the foreground water.
When you are learning how to paint ocean remember the direction of the sunlight. The sun is coming from the left.
There will be a soft line between the shadows and the highlights, no hard lines.
When we paint ocean, there will be no hard lines because everything is moving.
When we learn how to paint ocean, remember aerial perspective will make them look closer together in the distance.
Then pull the sunlight color on in a few places. Put some darker water in front of the waves for their shadows.
The highlights in the shadow areas will be greyed by adding blue to the mixture.
Some of the shadowed areas may be very dark.
Splash a bit of shadowed foam against the base of the rocks.
Use the lavender or grey shadow color (your choice of color) and highlight the foam with sunlight in a few places.
Use a medium water color to paint a shadow under the foam that is capping over the top of the transparent wave.
The ocean is one of my favorite things and it's a fun challenge to paint.
Painting anything takes practice. The more you paint, the better your paintings will be.
Don't try to be perfect. Just paint and enjoy the journey.