How to Paint a Beach in Acrylic

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Use vibrant color schemes to create your beach painting.
Use vibrant color schemes to create your beach painting. (Image: NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Beaches are probably among the most scenic places on earth. Using acrylic paint to create a beach scene, or any other scene, is easier than using oil or water paint. It is also less expensive. It dries quickly and is water soluble, making it easy to dilute and to clean up. Painting itself always requires an eye for detail, and an understanding of light. A closer look reveals that there are many subtle shades that create the depth you see on a photograph or through your own eyes. To transfer these subtleties is the trick to creating a successful painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Reference images
  • Eraser
  • Sponge
  • Various sizes of brushes
  • Canvas

Gather your reference images and draw a sketch of your proposed beach painting. Your composition should include enough elements to make the painting interesting. You can paint the beach from the perspective of looking out to sea, or from the sea onto the beach. You can also paint along the beach. In this example, the perspective is a view from the beach out toward the sea.

Draw the main elements of your sketch on the canvas using a pencil. Use light lines that you can easily erase if you make a mistake. Draw a straight line for the horizon, perhaps the shape of a few clouds, rocks in the water and the line where the water meets the sand. Include any desired details on the beach, such as grasses, different colors of sand, more rocks and all the shadows and highlights.

Paint the sky using a large brush and watered-down shade of blue acrylic paint of your choice. Use a lighter shade of blue than you will use for the ocean. Paint all the way down to the horizon. Use white and gray paint to indicate the presence of clouds.

Paint the underside darker than the tops of the clouds to make them look real. Experiment with color and use a small sponge to create a cloud-like texture.

Draw the sand also using water to dilute the yellows and browns that you wish to use. Paint the beach color going into the water to create the illusion of submerged sand. Use different tones and shades to create some variation in the sand. Make the ocean appear dark at the horizon and lighter and greener near the shore.

Paint any rocks in or out of the water using a dark color such as a dark brown, or even black. Paint the grasses using a small, fine-tipped brush. Start at the bottom and flick your brush upward until it tapers to a point. Practice this on a sheet of paper first if unsure.

Go over you initial strokes with a dark color to indicate the side that is in shadow, and a lighter color such as yellow and white to create highlights on the side facing the sun. Do the same with the rocks.

Paint the most detail at the front of the painting, and the least on objects farthest away. Create a haze in the distance with a diluted white. Experiment on a separate sheet of paper until you get the color right. One technique is to use very little paint on your brush and rubbing it in a random cloud-like pattern in the distant areas.

Take a break and return to the painting to examine it with fresh eyes. Add more shadows, highlights and detail until you are satisfied with all the elements in your beach painting. The acrylic paint will dry quickly -- usually a day if not too thickly applied.

References

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