- As time allows, do several small warm-up studies of the color of the water and the shapes of the waves. Think of it as doing stretches before a race.
- Adopt a “less is more” approach to painting the surface of moving water. A surprisingly few brushstrokes can show the forms and motion of the water. Excessive marks can result in the painting looking static.
- A close look at an expanse of water will reveal subtle color shifts. Decide on an overall color, but be prepared to modify it here and there. Let areas of slightly different colors run together to create a convincing sense of water.
- Water will reflect what is going on in the sky above it. Create continuity in the scene by using the same colors to represent both sky and water.
- The sharpest contrast in your painting should be at the focal point, not necessarily where the sky meets the water, so beware the urge to paint the horizon line razor sharp, even though it may look that way to you.
- As waves churn up the water and stir tiny air bubbles into the foam, the water loses its tendency to reflect what is above and around it and shows more of what is mixed into it — seaweed, sand, and silt. The color of the water then changes based on the composition of the shore. Surf and foam on a pink sandy beach will be a different color from surf and foam on a gray sandy beach.
- The color of the water that we see is influenced by the angle of the sun relative to us. These two photos were taken at the same place at the same time of day — one almost directly facing toward the sun, the other away from the sun.
Canadian painter Poppy Balser has always lived within walking distance of the ocean. Through her paintings, she aims to highlight the wild portions of Nova Scotia’s coastline.
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