Acrylic Seascape Details

Acrylic seascape by Eileen McKenna

Painting Seascapes

Before beginning to work in acrylics, I practiced painting seascapes in watercolor. Although acrylics are different, I found practicing in watercolor to be very useful. I developed a process that, when I switched to acrylics, I could follow. And painting with watercolor on paper is less expensive than using up canvases.

Coastal inspired art | watercolor seascape by Eileen McKenna
Watercolor Seascape by Eileen McKenna

Process for Painting Seascapes

Here is a summary of my painting process. Keep reading for links to more in depth resources.

  1. Mix seascape colors  – I mix blues, greens, and browns from ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, and cadmium red.
  2. Mark the horizon line. I use painter’s tape to achieve a straight horizon line.
  3. Paint the ocean water closest to the horizon darker and bluer.
  4. Paint the water in the cresting wave lighter and greener.
  5. Paint the shallow water near shore brown.
  6. Paint the sand. The sand is darkest closer to the ocean where it is wetter.
  7. Paint the crashing waves with white.
  8. Paint the foam with white and a flat brush. Horizontal lines help this area appear flat.
  9. Add shadows to the breaking wave.
  10. Paint the sky as a blue fade that is lighter closest to horizon.
Acrylic Seascape painting

Tips for Painting Acrylic Seascapes

  • Study a reference photo to identify the details that will make your seascape more realistic looking.
  • Clouds in the sky – I used an acrylic gel medium to thin out the paint and overlay colors for a more transparent look.
  • Paint lighter areas on the ocean for the sunlight
  • A dry brush can help create the spray off a crashing wave
  • Use an art sponge to make the shadows in the crashing wave look more natural.
  • Add a dark line beneath the edge of the foam to make the foam appear thicker.
Art sponge makes more natural looking shadows when painting waves

Practice painting seascapes in watercolor with these tutorials:

I share my step by step process for painting watercolor seascapes in the following tutorials. Choose the format that works best for you:

Easy Watercolor Seascape online video lesson for beginners
How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | tutorial | step by step instructions | painting tips
Watercolor Seascape Painting Tutorial

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