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August 12, 2020
By Chelsea Reed
Have you ever looked at a painting of a seascape and wondered, “How in the world did they paint that?” Think about it - every whitecap, wave, and shadow was put there by a human hand! It’s even more amazing to marvel when you try to paint a seascape yourself. Let’s go on an insider’s tour to see how artists paint those remarkable seascapes.
Water reflects light, so understanding how to paint light is essential to the artist. She does this by considering several factors, such as the shapes of the water and whether she’s painting in acrylic or oil. Even the type of lamp they’re working under can affect how the lighting of the painting will look. That’s why some artists prefer to paint plein air, which is painting outside.
Shapes in the water help the artist build the structure of the sea as well as the reflective light. A calm ocean consists of a simple flat plane, but rough waters are a bit more complicated. That’s where shapes come in. If an artist wants to paint a scene with rolling waves, he can draw circles, squares and cylinders first as the foundation for the shapes of the water.
Another clever technique that artists use for water is painting in broken color. Several distinct colors are brushed in unblended strokes on top of each other to create the sense of texture in the water. They appear to be a mess of colors close up, but the scene is soft and beautiful further away. Broken color is a technique that is characteristic of the popular Impressionism art style.
Expert artists brush with soft edges, hard edges, and lost edges. A soft edge is a smooth transition of two shapes in the scene. A lost edge is a super-soft edge that you can barely see. Hard edges define the subject’s shape with a sharper contrast. It’s less common to see hard edges in a seascape, but they can make a big splash - literally. A good example of a hard edge in a seascape is a crashing wave.
Is the sea calling out to you? Explore Seaside Art Gallery’s Seascape collection today. Who knows - you may find a special piece that brings the sea to you!
Chelsea Reed is a copywriter who writes online content, articles, blogs, and websites from her base in North Carolina
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