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Tag Archives: seascape

Splashing wave


I have painted this wave once before on masa paper here. This time I wanted to try something a little different. I had read in a book titled “Terry’s Top Tips for Watercolour Artists” (by Terry Harrison) that he sometimes uses a sponge to create the white foam on the tops of waves or I think they are sometimes referred to as whitecaps.

I have outlined how to use liquid frisket with a brush in another post here. Using the frisket with a sponge is much the same.



Left to right are my frisket supplies. Frisket can be referred to as masking fluid or drawing gum, also. On the left is my rubber pick up. This is used after your painting has dried and you need to remove the frisket to expose the white of the paper. You do so by carefully rubbing this across the surface. It removes the frisket much like an eraser.  I have two kinds of frisket in the photo. The incredible white mask is pretty thick and I only use that when I am not too concerned about exactness, like for splattering and such. The other is Pebeo Drawing Gum. This is my favorite. I like it because it is runnier and easier to work with when using it for tiny areas that need more detail. Next is a small jar of brush cleaning soap and last is my frisket brush.



Above are examples of some of the sponges I have used. When I purchase sponges, I try to look for new shapes to add to my collection so I get a variety. The large one in the center top is the one I chose for this painting. I tested several on scrap paper to see which one would be best suited for what I needed for the white shapes on the wave.



I began by drawing a guideline or two for the rock shapes on my watercolor paper (140 lb  Arches Rough). I then prepared my sponge by dipping it in water and allowing it to become soggy. I squeezed out as much of the water as I could. This makes the sponge “thirsty and ready to work. I spritzed some water onto my soap dish and dipped my damp sponge in that first. This makes the outer surface of your sponge shapes a little slippery and will help you get the frisket off when the time comes to rinse. I then dipped my sponge in a puddle of frisket that I poured into an old dish (small to not waste the frisket). I began dabbing the frisket on the contours of the wave, emulating what I saw in my reference photo. I am very careful to rinse and repeat these steps so the frisket never begins to dry on my sponge. I used the sponge for some of the foamy water in the foreground, also. I  immediately rinsed my sponge out when I finished so the frisket did not dry in it. I have read about a landscape artist who allows the frisket to build up on sponges and old brushes and he re-uses them. He gets some very interesting textural effects with these.  I used my brush and more frisket in the foreground to paint in some of the lines and roiling shapes I saw there. Before continuing, I wait for the frisket to dry.



Next, I chose several blues and painted the sky and the shadow shapes in the waves and allowed that to dry.



I  mixed a darker blue for the ocean behind the wave and painted it in very wet. Note the lighter areas around the wave that look kind of foggy. Prior to the dark blue wash drying, I dabbed around the top of the wave with a tissue (non-lotion tissue) and softened the edges of these foggy shapes. I painted in the dark rocky forms with dark earth-tones.  I allowed the painting to dry again.


I removed all the frisket ; rubbing the surface with the rubber pick up.

Splashing wave

I finished by darkening some of the blues in the foreground and in the darkest areas of the wave. I splattered the top of the wave using a small #4 round and white gouache.

Thank you to wet canvas for the reference photo for this.

I have always wanted to try a wave crashing along a rocky shoreline. I found the reference photo for this painting on the Wet Canvas site for artists and stashed it away for awhile, intimidated by the abstract quality of it.  Everything was pretty much like painting any other painting as long as I was mindful of the values. The splatter was added, first by tapping a #4 round loaded with titanium white around the crest of the wave and then rubbing the bristles of a toothbrush in some creamy titanium white and aiming it at the wave and drawing my thumb back across the bristles (creamy white consistency or it will drip) like pictured below:

Be sure to place paper over the areas of the painting that you don’t want spattered.

Yes. I am becoming more comfortable using white watercolor in my paintings. The more I read, the more I see it documented. There is nothing that compares with the glow of white paper showing through but, sometimes, using white enhances certain paintings. Some rules I follow when using white are:

1. I use a different waterglass to rinse my white brush in. It is so opaque that it can contaminate other colors.

2. I usually use it towards the end of a painting as it bleeds into other colors and lightens them more than is desirable

3. I only use it in paintings where I want an opaque white appearance or can’t determine how to save the white of the paper.


I follow a site titled Big Sur Kate. Late last summer she posted the above photograph.  I commented on all the beautiful color and that it was so surreal and different.  I have followed her photography because I saw, early on, that she incorporated a knack for great and interesting composition in her work. She was kind enough to offer this image for me to work from. Little did I realise how difficult it would be for me to reproduce in watercolor. The following are my attempts to paint this beautiful seascape.

          Cartiera Magnani 140lb coldpress

This is my first attempt. I didn’t like all the hard edges and did not feel I had enough definition in the clouds. I liked the brightness it captured but the darks were not deep enough and I couldn’t get the sea darker without disturbing the first layer of pigment.

Arches 140lb coldpress

This was my second attempt. I liked this much better but felt it lacked shape in the clouds.I liked the darks and the variation of color that was achieved, here.

Cartiera Magnani 140lb coldpress

This one approached the bright light I wanted in the upper portion of the sky and I liked the shapes in the sea but was still dissatified with the shapes I was achieving in the clouds.

Winsor Newton 140lb coldpress

I really liked the shapes that I achieved in this one but not the range of values. I wanted deeper darks and WHOOPS! Happy accident at the bottom; swampgrass? lol

  Arches 140lb coldpress

I was getting closer to the color I wanted.I liked the somewhat v shape of the underside of the clouds I got in this one and how it defined the streaks of reflected light on the water. It was here that I decided to change my approach and paint shapes in sections to define the clouds I wanted to achieve. I also decided I wanted to go with the essence of this v shape to create the next one.

Fabriano 140lb coldpress

This was my final attempt and I am pleased with it. The Fabriano coldpress allowed me to play in the pigment a little more. It would allow me to lift hard edges and re-design an area.  It also offered a surface that I could lay down abstract shapes with ease. I also pulled out the titanium white and enhanced portions of the clouds to gray out some areas and brighten the whites of the clouds on the top.

This entire venture made me appreciate the art of photography much more than I ever have. There are just some things that are captured with a camera that we would not have if  we had to paint it FAST! before it disappeared.  Thank-you, Kate, for sharing your art with me so I could learn valuable lessons here.

Oh. Some time ago, Isabelle challenged me to do a beach scene. Would this seascape qualify Isabelle? I didn’t forget. 🙂