Watercolour Coastal Scenes (Further Tips)

Watercolour Coastal Scenes

Coastal Study by Ray McSharry
Coastal Study by Ray McSharry

To paint seascapes in watercolour and paint them like a professional, you will first need to master the basic skills and knowledge of watercolour painting.

My guide to painting coastal scenes step-by-step should certainly help.

Hopefully when reading this section you will also have practised the skills to be found in the Watercolour Techniques section of this website.

There are plenty of opportunities to practice these skills needed if you are not right by the sea itself. You can choose anywhere where there is an expanse of water. Anything large enough so that you can see the surface shimmering as light is reflected off of the water surface.

Luckily, a watercolour painting kit is lightweight and can be carried along with you when you are planning a painting holiday by the beach if you fancy re-creating a scene from real life. And when you are there on the beach or by the sea, focus on creating sketches of landscapes and seascapes that you see around you and try to remember the sights and sounds when you sit down to paint the scenes.

Pointers For Great Watercolour Coastal Scenes

Try using graded washes, transparent colours and smooth glazes for painting cloudless skies

  • For stormy skies, use complementary and opaque colours. Introduce a few diagonal strokes to suggest winds or movement.
  • Use purple, yellow, blues, orange and magenta when you wish to introduce sunset seascapes. Add a few clouds to give it character.
  • Dampen the paper and paint strong strokes to ensure that the colours flow.

The Devil Is In The Detail

When creating Watercolour Coastal Scenes, pay attention to details such as the foamy characteristics and sparkle that you see on the ocean waves. Experiment by blending and using wash techniques till you capture the characteristics of shade when painting sea or open water.

Try washing several bands of colour for the sea and make each one slightly darker than the earlier one. Water can be applied to lighten the top edge of the band.

Experiment With Different Techniques

I use a sponge or a large brush when applying colours to the sky. This is a great way to create effects of clouds.

If using a large brush you will find that squirrel hair or sable tends to be better than synthetic as they can hold much more water or paint.

To complete the picture, you can introduce sand, seashells or rocks. A few birds flying in the distance adds allure to the seascape artwork.

Another tip for creating sea waves with white foam or crests is to place newspaper at random places on the paper. Use different washes of greens and blues over the paper and let it dry. Remove the newspaper and let it dry. Use a sea sponge that is dipped in liquid mask and create crests or white foam.

Blend colours after creating an arc to resemble a sea wave. Since each wave is different, it will help if you look at different pictures drawn by artists online. Use different sizes of brushes and introduce various shades of blue.

If you are using dark colours, use short strokes. Masking fluid should be applied in areas you wish to use light colours. Let the paint dry when you are layering with different colours. Make sure that the brush does not drip paint at any time. Once the waves are dry, dip your brush into fresh blue paint and outline the wave to add detail.

It is necessary to learn how to manipulate the textures and colours by a combination of dry brush, wet-into-wet and possibly addition of salt or other types of masking fluids. When you sprinkle crystals of salt on a wet seascape watercolour painting, you can create a crystallized effect. All you have to do is brush the salt crystals once the painting is dry.

Another interesting tip is to flick paint. This is done by rubbing your finger over a brush that is loaded with paint. Aim the brush at the direction you wish to see tiny paint splatters. This creates an interesting effect when you are painting seascapes. Introduce a layer of clear water and dab different colours of paint into this water. You will notice different lines and designs developing. Allow it to dry completely.

As ever,  I would be happy to help you if please contact me. So why not send me an email?

Ray.