How to Paint a Beach With Watercolors

Written by paul rance
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How to Paint a Beach With Watercolors
A beach is a subject most artists love to paint. (beach image by Horticulture from

As with painting a landscape, painting a beach in watercolours is a rich seam for an artist to exploit. A beach can be just as stimulating to paint when it is empty as when it is crowded with people. A beach alive with people can give an artist ample opportunity to pick and choose a scene to focus on. An artist, though, may choose to concentrate on creating a scenic painting of beach, sea, sky and rocks.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Watercolours
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper
  • Pencil

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  1. 1

    Choose a place to paint from which gives you a view of not only the beach, but all that surrounds it, too. This can be done from indoors or outdoors.

  2. 2

    Make a horizontal line where the beach meets the sea with a pencil. Next draw a line for the horizon. Follow this up with framing the beach by drawing what surrounds it. Draw all the other important things that you intend to paint, from people to clouds. Bear in mind, though, that a beach scene will change over the course of your painting, so make a note of the colours you'll need to use.

  3. 3

    Use a No. 10 brush for your washes. Begin with a wash of raw sienna to paint over the area of the beach and rocks. Use a light blue wash for the sky and a turquoise wash for the sea.

  4. 4

    Add your first brush strokes, beginning with the beach. The colours added should be slightly lighter than the beach itself. Next, go over the beach again, this time using a darker shade of the same colour. Paint in shaded areas of the beach.and leave lighter areas as they are. Use even darker shades where necessary.

  5. 5

    Paint the colour of the rocks, but this will need to be a more gradual process than with the beach, because of a greater variation in colour and shade. Begin by filling the rocks in with colour, then add lines to emphasise detail.

  6. 6

    Build up the painting of the sea in stages, adding one darker shade after another to give the sea an animated appearance. Any clouds will already be drawn, so paint the sky around them. Use thicker brush strokes when painting the sky, which will help create subtle variations in the sky's colour.

  7. 7

    Complete the painting by painting the people you drew earlier. As you have been painting from a distance, fine detail is not required. Apply your paint thickly and with rapid brush strokes when painting each individual figure.

Tips and warnings

  • A good idea is to make preliminary sketches of different areas of the beach, after your first beach painting. If you have visited the beach on vacation then you can then paint several views of the same beach at home.
  • Don't try and include everything you see in your beach painting if your time is limited. The beach, sea, sky and rocks should be included, but if you begin by drawing lots of people on the beach, then it'll be dark before your painting is finished.

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