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A Newbie Painter’s Guide to Painting Waves and Water

painting waves

Is the ocean calling to you? The sound of waves crashing against the shore, the salty air filling your lungs – does it all make you want to grab a paintbrush and create your own masterpiece? It’s easy to be intimidated by the prospect of painting waves and water.

It can seem like a complex subject that’s difficult to replicate. But with the right tips, anyone can paint a wave or water scenes. In this guide, we’ll provide some basic tips for getting started, including examples of the right colour and wave shape. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced painter, we hope you’ll find this guide helpful in establishing your foreground!

paint waves

What is a Wave?

Waves are a fundamental force of nature, affecting everything from ocean currents to the movement of rocks on land. To understand what a wave is and why it is so important, it helps to start by taking a look at their characteristics.

At their most basic level, a wave is just energy moving through space in a repetitive pattern. This energy can come from a variety of sources, including light, wind, and earthquakes. Their blue color is basically just a reflection of

Ultimately, though, whatever form a wave takes or wherever they occur, all of them follow the same basic principles. So if you’re interested in, whether on land or at sea, understanding these principles will be a crucial first step in creating your own beautiful artwork!

painting waves in acrylic

What Do Waves Signify?

Waves are one of the most quintessential features of the ocean. Depending on context, they may represent everything from restless energy to relaxing tranquility. For artists seeking to save the image on canvas and capture a mixture of a sense of restlessness and movement, creating crashing waves can be a mixture of powerful and evocative choice.

Whether depicted in bold brush strokes or subtle shades, they capture the raw power and explosive detail of the ocean. And it is this same energy that powers our own lives as we navigate through daily routines or face big challenges. So when we look at them, we see much more than water–we are reminded of our own resilience and develop the ability to overcome obstacles.

On the other hand, if you want to create a quiet, peaceful wave can evoke feelings of calm and tranquility. When we look at gentle rolling swells lapping against the sand, we’ve reminded of time spent relaxing with friends and loved ones. With each artwork depicting white water with peaceful waves and sea foams on its surface, we create our fill of a little oasis of calm that we can return to whenever we need a moment of peace.

So whatever feeling or form you want your wave paintings to evoke, having complete understanding of their symbolism will be an important step in creating an example of an artwork that is truly meaningful.

Why Is It Therapeutic To Paint Waves?

Painting waves is an immensely therapeutic activity. For many painters, it can be an extremely relaxing and satisfying way to express their creativity, and they offers a unique opportunity to capture the beauty of the white ocean waves.

It induces calm and peaceful vibes to the artist.

By creating shimmering foamy crests, darting fish, and a wide open expanse of sky, you can appreciate all of the lighter and even the dark details that make up our oceans. There’s just something about the sound of the crashing waves that help you calm down any turmoil feelings With each brush stroke, you will feel yourself becoming calmer and more centered, helping to clear your mind so that you can focus on creating beautiful life paintings many people will love.

how to paint waves with acrylics

Colors You Can Use In Painting Waves and Seascape Paintings

There are many different colors that you can use to paint waves, depending on the effect that you want to create. You can also use different mediums to achieve the desired effects like shadows. You can even do that by mixing them together.

Cooler Shades

For example, if you want an artwork that evokes tranquility or calmness, then dark blues like Prussian blue or Phthalo blue and green acrylics are great choices.

  • Blue

  • Green

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These cool tones will help to create a soothing atmosphere and will help to evoke feelings of a wave filled with fun and relaxation.

Brighter Colors

Alternatively, you could use warmer hues like yellows and reds to create artworks that seem energetic or powerful.

  • Red

  • Orange

  • Yellow

These bright, bold colors work especially well for creating surfers or other people who are engaged with the waves, conveying their excitement. It is important to consider the mood.

Titanium White

Titanium white paint is good for the sea spray effects, reflections and highlights of the water. White paint also helps create realism and depth to a wave. This light color goes well with dark colors for contrast.

painting waves tutorial

Materials You Need For Seascape Paintings

Seascape art is a type that focuses on the sea and other bodies of water like distant waves and sea spray. To paint a seascape, you will need a few supplies like acrylic paints. Seascape art is a fun and relaxing activity that anyone can enjoy.


This is a piece of fabric or paper that you paint on. For seascape art, you will need a large Gessoed panel so that you can capture the vastness of the sky and sea. Painting on canvas is a popular way to add color and life to a room.

But did you know that there are different types of canvas each with its own benefits and drawbacks? Here’s a quick rundown of the most common types, so you can choose the right one for your project.


Oil-based canvas is one of the most popular types of canvas. It’s made with natural fibers like cotton or linen, and it’s treated with an oil-based primer.

This makes it resistant to water damage and fading, and it also gives the paint a smooth texture. However, oil-based canvas can be difficult to work with because it takes longer to dry.

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Acrylic-based canvas is another popular type of canvas. It’s made with synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon, and it’s treated with an acrylic-based primer. This makes it resistant to water damage and fading, but it can be difficult to work with because it doesn’t absorb paint well.

Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper is a popular choice for watercolor painting. It’s made with natural fibers like cotton or linen, and it’s treated with a water-

Acrylic Paint/Oil Paints

You will need acrylic paint or oil paint for your seascape art. Acrylic paint dries quickly, so it can save you time if you want to finish your painting in one sitting. Oil paint takes longer to dry, so you will have more time to work with it and make changes to your painting.

how to paint beach waves


You will need a variety of paintbrushes like a flat or round brush for your seascape pieces. A set of synthetic nylon brushes will give you the best results, since they hold their shape and size better than natural brushes. You should also have a few different sizes, so that you can paint thinner and lighter lines and broad brush strokes with ease.

  • Flat Brushes

  • Round Brushes

  • Nylon Brushes

how to paint ocean waves


In order to mix your colours, you will need a palette. A standard palette works well for painting waves, the sky or any other seascape paintings. It also helps to have a cup of water to wet your dry brush, it helps make the colors more manageable as you mix them.

Make sure to blot the brushes using a paper towel to get rid of any excess water. You won’t want to have runny paint, after all.

how to paint waves easy

Which Type Of Paint Is Best For Painting Waves?

The type of paint you need for painting waves depends on the effects you want to achieve. Different mediums produce a wide range of wave effects. Some types may have more edge in making realistic outcomes, but it ultimately whether it’s oil, acrylics or watercolors, depends on the painter’s preference.

acrylic painting ocean waves

Acrylic Paint

If you are looking to paint a wave that is tranquil and soothing, then acrylics or watercolors may be the best choices. These opaque acrylic paints tend to have cool tones like Prussian blue, which produce a calming effect on your wave artwork.

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Here are some benefits to using acrylics:

There are plenty of reasons to choose acrylics when painting waves. For one thing, it’s very versatile – you can create a wide range of effects, from realistic to abstract.

Acrylics also dries quickly, so you can work on multiple layers without having to wait for each one to dry. And because it’s water-based, it’s easy to clean up if you make a mistake.

Another big benefit of using acrylics is that it’s durable. Once it dries, it’s resistant to damage from sunlight, moisture, and other elements. This makes it a great choice for outdoor murals or other artwork that will be exposed to the elements.

So whether you’re looking for realism or abstraction, quick drying times or durability, acrylics is a great choice for wave paintings.

how to paint ocean waves acrylic

Oil Paints

Alternatively, if you want to paint a wave that are bright and energetic, then oil paints or tempera paint may be better choices. Some people might say that oil paint is the best option.

Here are some benefits of using oil paint to paint waves:

Oil paint dries slowly, so you have more time to work with it and make changes. Adding multiple layers may take time though. But this can be especially helpful when painting something like waves, which can be difficult to capture.

Oil paints also have a rich texture and can create a beautiful sheen when applied correctly. Oil paint colors like cerulean blue can help to give your waves a realistic look.

Finally, oil paint is very versatile and can be used in many different ways. You can thin it out, mix it with other colors, or add textured mediums to create different effects on the painting surface. This allows the painter to experiment until you find the perfect look for your painting.

how to paint seascapes

How To Paint Water Waves

In painting water and wave scenes, there are a few key techniques that you should keep in mind. Follow these tips to learn how to paint them on a canvas. The process may seem intimidating at first, but it isn’t impossible to master.

Feel free to experiment on a lighter colour with your brushes and create a darker shadow of the wave depending where your light is.

easy seascapes to paint

Planning Out Shapes And Colors

Before you start, it is important to take some time to plan out the shapes and colors you will use in your artwork. To do this, you can sketch out a rough outline of the entire piece on paper. This can also work as a photo reference for you as you paint.

This helps determine the composition and color scheme of your wave artwork, allowing you to make adjustments before painting with your dry brush on the actual painting.

easy acrylic seascapes

Adding Finer Details To The Waves

Once you have laid down basic shapes and colors, you can begin adding more fine details to the subject. One way to do this is by making smaller waves and more layers, gradually creates a sense of movement and depth to the bigger wave.

You can also add more detail by making the reflection of the light and shadow of the waves on the water or sea spray using titanium white and dark black paint. Texture is a detail that adds a sense of realism to the wave paintings and makes it more interesting to look at.

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Using The ‘Pull-Out’ Technique

One technique that you can use to help make the illusion of distance is called “pulling out.” This involves painting the distant waves at the farthest part of the artwork more loosely than other parts of the painting. By leaving some areas unfinished yet complete, your wave painting will feel less cluttered and give your viewers a sense of depth.

how to paint a beach wave tutorial

Painting The Sea Foam

The sea foam is one of the most important parts of painting a wave, as it adds both realism and beauty to your painting. To paint the sea foam, you will need to mix white colour with a small amount of blue or green paint. Then, using a small brush, you can add it to your painting in small dots or lines, carefully painting around the edges of the waves.

painted waves

Can I Master Painting Waves And Water?

Yes, you can absolutely master painting waves and water! With the right techniques and tools, anyone can make beautiful wave paintings that capture the movement of ocean waves. This is a sign for you to watch free tutorials and start painting today.

wave painting

Practice Regularly

Many aspiring painters give up before they  get started, convinced that painting is a talent that cannot be learned. However, the truth is that painting, like any other skill, takes practice to master.

This is especially true when it comes to painting waves. The constantly changing shape and movement of waves can be daunting for even the most experienced artist. However, by practicing regularly, you can learn to capture the essential qualities of waves in your paintings.

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Use Reference Photographs

Start by studying a reference photo and video footage of waves, paying attention to the way the light reflects off the water and the way the different paint colors blend together. Then, set up a still life in your studio and practice painting on a good painting surface.

As you become more comfortable with the process and establish your foreground, you will be able to experiment with different techniques and paint mediums. These may include like acrylics. Ultimately, you can begin developing your own unique style.

painting surface

Experiment With Different Techniques

Another great way to improve your painting skills is by experimenting frequently with different painting styles and techniques. By trying out a mixed painting methods, you can find the painting techniques and strokes that work best for you. This will also help you improve your painting techniques and paint more water, sky, and wave paintings.

ocean waves

Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes In Painting Waves

Lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes when you paint. You will soon master how to paint waves and capture and enhance the elements. These can include the light and dark blue of the muted sky, the horizon, and white sea foam, even the shadows by mixing paint colors and brushstrokes.

painting water

Watch YouTube Tutorial Videos On Seascapes On Your Computer

Think of it as having a virtual instructor from the web giving you live lessons and tutorials on painted waves from their studio. Watching how they do it can help you have more motivation and foreground to learn new knowledge. This can include details, brushstrokes, and improve your wave art.

They also give you a description and demonstration on a new wave painting technique. You can also try reading paint ebooks, a web page and or data from a blog.

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Excited To Try Out Painting Waves For Your Next Project?

So there you have it! You are now a painter of waves. It’s not as hard as you thought, is it? Just remember the basic steps and keep practicing, and soon you’ll be able to create beautiful paintings with ease.

Enjoy your new artistic skill!

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