Practice Practice Practice!

I was watching people paint water on good ol’ YouTube, and I had an idea to paint some water pictures too as I have some of my own photos from when I was in Cancun, Mexico to reference.

As I am not around water often, I actually don’t have much if any experience with the concept of water; how it moves, the depth, or reflection of light. But hey, I thought I’d give it a go.

Cancun Wave Take 1
Acrylic painting of a wave take 1.

This was my first attempt.

I have to say this one was a bit challenging to paint. I knew there was dark water in the distance, with a bit of teal light reflecting, then the more vibrant teal water upfront and the light almost yellow/green wave in the middle. Oh yeah, then there was all that foam to figure out.

I started off with the basic colors of the sky, the dark blue water, then the teal water. I painted in the froth of the wave next, and added the yellow green into the wave. I tried to create water depth with a variety of teals, blues, and greens, then for the froth I found that dry brushing the white on in swirls gave a nice effect.

However, overall I think this picture looks like crap. Very frustrating because this was the best I knew how to do.

So I did some research.

Cancun Wave Take 2
Acrylic painting of a wave take 2.

This was my second attempt.

Much improved if I do say so myself.

I put in the base layer of each water part as there seems to be sections of colour. When doing this I realized that between the wave and the bottom teal, there is another deeper teal that is actually similar in color to the teal water above the wave. (Does this make sense? LOL)

I then drew in the squiggly lines of froth before adding the really foamy froth. Last I added in little dots for light that is reflecting off the surface of the water.

Now while I liked this one a lot, I felt that the froth could be better and the yellow green looked decidedly shallow.

I needed to try this one more time.

Cancun Wave Take 3
Acrylic painting of a wave take 3.

This was my third attempt.

I did more research and learned some new techniques.

For some reason I had a lot of trouble mixing my colours so this painting isn’t as vibrant as the second version.

I blended my background base colors into gradients down the page, then I marked my frothy areas with a tinted stipple and added tinted froth lines. The wave is deeper with a dark teal base and I added light teal to the tops of the waves hoping this would add depth without it looking shallow.

I then took a pallet knife and rubbed the foamy froth on in light circular motions. I LOVE this technique, and I think this is what the second version is missing.

I took more artistic freedom with this last one than I did with the others. Not sure if I did better or not. Overall, I wouldn’t say as much growth happened in this round.

I did all of these painting in three days, one day for each. In these days I learned that to grow, you need to practice. But in between practicing, research is key to learning how to fix something that you don’t like in your work. Basically, you can’t force something that isn’t there out of your hand like I so often try to do.

What do you think? Do you have a favourite?

4 thoughts on “CANCUN WAVES

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  1. I have painted watercolors x 20 years. Recently working w/ acrylics. Love your waves! Technically they’re tough to get them ‘flowy.’ I can’t wait to try some scenes from a recent trip to the shore!


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