I'm taking on the nearly impossible task of summarizing how to paint all waves in less. than ten minutes. Of course, that's crazy because there are so many different coastal. areas in the world. Well let's get going. Let's tackle this by color or time of day, starting with earlier and going later. The. absolute first question to ask about any scene is composition. Are there enough interesting. elements to be painted and to make someone look at the painting? Not every beach has. rocks, which is why we can focus on wave and foam shapes, typically not head on. Head on. shots promote symmetry in our brains as we paint, and next thing you know, you've got. a boring painting. This first example offers nearly every type of wave – cresting, broken, and rolling. foam. The broken wave is more interesting than simply a crest because it offers extra. shadows and shapes. As the wave crests, the lighting on the face darkens, and some light. comes through the top. This is easily painted by blending a few light strokes into the darker. base.
You can see the foam colors are usually blue and purple, just lighter than the background. sea. The greens in this case are far from pure, mixed with lots of red. The next painting focuses on the power of the sea. A deep blue background with mostly. white and gray wash up front. The shadow color of the wave face and crashing foam should. be painted first, allowing the white highlights to be put in on top. The spray is made by. simply blending and lightening the background color. Along the same theme of powerful waves are foam bursts. Watercolor creates soft edges. that can be very attractive and add a soft quality to all the surging, forceful water. mass. Watercolor also causes painters to focus on shadows since creating highlights is more. difficult. Our brains try to even out foam bursts and make their shapes regular. We fight this tendency. by raising a few areas and avoiding horizontal lines. As the day progresses, the light grows warmer, and actually promotes translucency and other. lighting effects that midday does not. This example shows a strong play between light and shadow, giving a dancing path the the. main wave in the background.
The sky at this time has many grays and greens in it, as does. the water. Think of painting the water and foam like steps with shadows at the edges. and light on. the tops. In order to create strong highlights, the shadow areas must be dark, and there must. be light grays beneath the highlights. There is no pure white here, the highlights are. tinted with yellow and orange. The ability of this golden hour to create shadows does wonders for composition. You. don't often see a seascape in the portrait format, but it can be done. This one uses. a long, curving path to lead into the background. Unlike in the previous example, this path. is not really broken much because the vantage point is so much higher. Paint areas of open. water first, smoothing the gradient between dark to light. This makes painting foam on. top much easier. I mentioned earlier that we usually try to avoid head on waves. Well, sometimes you can. get away with it if the lighting is interesting enough. The key to glare is value contrast. Whites must be placed over darker surroundings.
But there's also a great amount of glow in. this painting. The glow is created by not just lightening colors, but also shifting. them. For example, the foam and wave faces are all shifted toward the light brown of. the sky. The background sea is especially tinted towards brown and orange. Sometimes, a painting is all about color. Look for more than just blue. Pick out browns. and grays. Look for warm and cool masses. In the end, the values play a major role in. whether waves have shape. Be sure to include darker shadows under the foam and on. the wave faces. If you have to go for simplicity, try adding something in the background. The warm colored. headland here is a perfect match against the blue sky and turquoise wave. The wave color. is almost always greener or bluer than. the flat water. It's always important to stack shapes on top of each other when possible, and paint nearby. objects into one. another. This creates depth in a painting. The layers of rocks and waves give the viewer something. to explore. To give shape to the wave face, oval foam patterns can be added, rising up. and even over the top of the. wave. Never leave a wave as a lonely piece. It's foam crashes down and tumbles into the water. before it, creating a sort of frame in the painting. If you do want to go for mainly horizontal lines in a painting, mix it up at least a. little. Horizontal leaves give a feeling of peace, relaxation, and meditation to a viewer. However, they are not very exciting. By placing in a diagonal line of rocks or foam, a little. interest is gained.