Paint A Seascape With Crashing Wave In Watercolor

Rocks and a crashing wave – very typical seascape subject matter. It’s a complex scene but we’ll make it easy with large simple shapes, a simplified value composition and using very simple watercolor painting techniques!

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Wave, Water and Rocks

This is typical seascape fare – waves crashing into rocks! The combination of many elements including moving water and the action of the waves makes this a complex subject. It may seem overwhelming to try to paint this in watercolor – or any medium – but, simplification is the key.

Simplification for Complex Look

We’ll start by simplifying the picture plane into large shapes that include more than one “thing” or element.  Download and take a look at the value sketch. Notice that the sky and distant water are combined into a single mid-value shape. The middle ground includes the wave, its crest the splashing water and foam from a previous wave. All elements have been combined into a single large white value shape. And finally, the foreground includes a number of individual rocks and boulders that are combined to create a large dark value shape.

Even the value sketch – without any detail at all – is evocative of an ocean wave and rocks.  The process of composing the entire picture plane with large simplified shapes is really an essential part of creating any painting of any subject – especially the complex ones.

Detail With Simple Watercolor Painting Techniques

Of course you’ll want more detail – or the illusion of detail – in your painting. We’ll acheive that mostly by creating expressive edges and textures in and around our individual elements.  How? It might be surprising to hear that our basic watercolor painting techniques – wet-into-wet, dry-in-wet, drybrush and lift techniques are all you need to create the illusion of detail!

What you’ll need

Get ready, turn on the video and let’s jump in!

Related Lessons

Basic Watercolor Techniques

Seascape Painting Projects