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Art Lessons

How to Paint Seascapes: Waves

"What art offers is space—a certain breathing room for the spirit." -John Updike

paint a ship at sea

Artwork excerpted from Cultivate Your Creative Life by Alena Hennessy

Painting ocean waves is a beautiful part of depicting the sea in art. Anyone who has spent any time near or on the ocean knows that waves can truly have a life and personality of their own. Though fleeting in real life, a wave captured on paper can allow a powerful storm or serene beach to live on forever.

Wave Action

Waves cannot really be planned, so it is not necessary to make a drawing [as a base]. Be aware of the "happy accident"—when something unexpectedly good happens, leave it alone! When it happens, as it often does in watercolor painting, work with it—develop it!

Here a "happy accident" was developed into a white cap. Notice the strong contrasts on the wind blown waves topped with foam and spray. Also be aware of the variety of shapes within the wave.

how to paint waves

Image and text excerpted from How to Draw & Paint: Seascapes by Frank Germain

What is your favorite type of seascape to paint? Stormy or calm? Tropical beaches or rocky coasts?

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Take your sketch pad and commune with nature. You have a new thrill coming.

Walter Foster

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