Paint A Stormy Seascape In Watercolor

Use Grays And Basic Techniques For A Rough Sea 

This one is a Challenge! Soft texture is important for creating foam and whitewater. Wet-In-Wet and Dry-In-Wet techniques – worked quickly – are the key, but also the challenge. 

What You’ll Learn

This lesson uses simple, basic watercolor techniques. This lesson focuses on a couple other ideas that work well for this subject:

  • Fast work – this subject needs a lot of soft edges with color and value changes. Working quickly with wet-in-wet and dry-in-wet technques does the job. 
  • Directional strokes – the movement and volume of the water is captured with brushstrokes that define direction; that flow and move in the same direction as the movement of the subject. 
  • Limited palette – seascapes have a lot of grays and neutrals, especially on a stormy day. This lesson uses a limited palette of mostly earth tones and one blue. The resulting mixtures give the grays and neutral colors needed for this kind of scene. 

An Active Approach

The main subject of this painting is the foamy white water from the rough sea. Capturing the look of foam and spray means lots of wet-in-wet and dry-in-wet technique.  The dry-in-wet strokes will be done carefully and directionally to infuse areas of water with volume and movement.  It requires quick and careful action – the biggest challenge in this lesson!

The color scheme is neutral! The color palette for this lesson is very limited – three earth colors and one blue.  

What you’ll need:

  • Brushes – 1 1/2″ Flat1″ Flat, 1/2″ Flat, 1/4″ Flat
  • Colors – Indanthrene Blue (or Thalo Blue, or Ultramarine Blue), Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna
  • Watercolor paper – preferably Arches 140lb Cold Press cut to about 7″ x 11″ or so. We’ll be working with LOTS of water!  The absorbency of Arches Cold Press will help you manage all the water.

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