Nothing says “summer” like watercolour seascapes - whether it’s a boat out on the open ocean or a seaside town overlooking the waves, the flowing movements of the sea perfectly capture the spirit of the season.
It may not be a good idea to fight fire with fire, but by painting water with water, you can achieve some pretty amazing effects. Seascapes are one of the easiest and most calming subjects to paint, making them great for beginners.
Get Watercolour Painting Ideas from Famous Seascapes
You don’t need to live on the beach to find inspiration for a summer painting project. Thanks to the internet, you can find millions of reference photos on photo sharing websites like Pinterest.
You can also draw inspiration for watercolour seascapes from the works of others. Take the Joseph Mallord William Turner’s piece “The Scarlet Sunset” (c.1830-1840) for example. Instead of taking blue paint to white paper, he takes red and yellow paint to blue paper to create a gorgeous sunset shore.
If you don’t have blue paper, you could instead get ideas from the work of Paul Cezanne. “Seascape” (1864) has a sketchy feel to it, adding movement and energy to the piece. You can create this effect by going over your dry painting with watercolour pencils.
A Guide to Watercolour Paints and Pencils
Before you can start painting your own watercolour seascapes, you’ll need to gather the right supplies. For starters, you'll need the right paper, ideally watercolour paper or a heavyweight cartridge paper can withstand light washes. Watercolour pads and blocks are great if you're painting in situ by the sea.
You’ll also need a regular pencil to sketch with, watercolour paint or pencils; a painting half pan set will give you a starter set of colours, which can be mixed in the attached palette. Plus masking tape if your using loose sheets need fixing to a board. It’s handy to have a sponge or paper towels, to soak up excess liquid on the paper and create interesting effects.
Last but not least, you’ll need a brush. I recommend investing in one, high-quality watercolour brush - bearing in mind that natural hair bristles retain water for longer (so you don’t have to constantly dip your brush), a fine tip for detail if well kept will last you a lifetime, such as the Kolinsky sable below. There are many leading synthetic brushes that compare well too such as Pro Arte.
You could also try a water brush, which holds water in the barrel for controlled painting, ideal for travel.
Useful Watercolour Pencil Techniques
Most people start with paint, but you can get some pretty unique effects using watercolour pencils. The basic idea is you use them as with any coloured pencil, then go over with a wet brush to get that sheer and dreamy look of watercolour.
Watercolour pencils are an extremely versatile medium with so many possibilities. Some other techniques you can try are:
How to Paint Sea in Watercolour (Beginners)
Now that we’ve gone over some pencil techniques, let’s talk about paint.
We’ll show you step by step how to paint sea in watercolour, and teach you about some of the basic techniques you’ll be using along the way.
As you paint, remember that objects farther away from the viewer will appear lighter and less saturated than objects in the foreground. For these areas, simply dilute your paint. For your very first watercolour seascape, choose something simple - it can even just be sea and sky.
As you get the hang of things, you can start to add details like rocks, boats, birds, and even lighthouses!
More Advanced Watercolour Techniques
The thing I love most about watercolour is that you don’t have to be super experienced at it to make something that looks good.
The water does a lot of the work for you, creating soft colour gradients and adding texture. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of more advanced skills you can master. Take your seascapes to the next level by practising some of these more advanced painting techniques:
Find Everything You Need For Your Next Project
Ready to pick up a brush and start your next summer painting project?
Well, you’re going to need some supplies first - now that you know how to create seascapes, you can bring your ideas to life using our selection of watercolour paints and pencils.
Find every shade you need to create breathtaking sunsets and dazzling waves on the ARTdiscount store.
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