Ever since I began teaching, I get a lot of students who want to paint the beach and seagrass, so I feel it’s time to have a chat about both of those.
Painting a beach scene can seem like a simple painting, but you would be surprised at how difficult it can be to choose the right colors to create the sand. In my painting Timber Island, I used more cool colors to create the effect I wanted. I used Cobalt for both the sky and the water, making sure I darkened the water close to the island by adding a touch of sepia to show depth. My sand is a mixture of burnt umber with a touch of sepia. For lighter areas, I used more water to lighten the color, while for darker sand I added a bit more sepia. I then put a wash of sepia, burnt umber, and a touch of orange in the foreground where my seagrass is and gave it time to dry.
While I gave my sand and seagrass time to dry, I added my islands using the same colors as the seagrass just without the orange. I added a touch of green to the trees on the islands and kept my trees lighter at the tops where the sun hits. Once I tackled the larger areas, I then transitioned my focus to the islands. Remember, a watercolor painting is a layering of colors, so painting the large areas is a must as you’re getting all your washes in.
Once my colors were where I wanted them I started working on the seagrass. In Timber Island, I took the less is more approach. I was very pleased with the washes on the sand and water as they gave the subtle effect I was looking for, so I continued that effect into the seagrass. When my washes dried, there were waterlines so I decided to integrate them into the painting by painting into them and adding wisps of grass with a very small pointed brush. As less is more, I did not paint into it too much.
Is it finished? That’s always a big question. Do my values achieve what I’m looking for in this painting? Starting out I wanted subtle and soft with a touch of needed depth. The darks in the seagrass added depth and balance. Remember values and perspective are everything. My biggest pointer is to pay attention to your values.