"Peek at the Ocean from Ocracoke Island" – Cape Hatteras
The watercolor painting above is from my watercolor journal painted while on vacation at the Outer Banks. This scene was painted from the parking area for the ferry on just a little strip of beach looking out into the water. The day was sunny and bright with sparking light reflections bouncing off the water.
Various colors and shades of blue are used both in the water and the sky. White highlights reflect the sunny reflections on the water. Sea oats were growing on the left side of the sand and the sand contained large pieces of shell and wood.
Materials Needed:140 lb. watercolor paper* or watercolor journal
(I used a journal for these paintings, as I painted while on vacation.)
*Always prepare your paper by using masking tape to secure to a board.
Brushes: Size of your choice
- Round brush
- ½” flat brush
- Liner or detail brush
Note: I use small pieces of gift cards or credit cards to quickly pull in fine lines.)
- Cerulean blue
- Windsor Blue
- Ultramarine blue
- Payne’s Gray
- Sap Green
- Yellow Ochre
- Vandyke Brown
Lightly sketch in the horizon where the beach meets the water and sketch the small slope of sand on the left side. It is not necessary to sketch in the sea oats. That‘s all the sketching needed. Now, let’s get started painting!
Sky:Paint in your sky first using a wet on wet technique down to the horizon where the sky meets the water and around the sand. I used Cerulean Blue at the top section of sky and painted around the clouds allowing the color to become lighter as it progresses down the page to the horizon. Use a paper towel to gently lift and shape some of the blue paint to further indicate clouds. Allow to dry.
Paint in the ocean using varying shades of Window Blue, Cerulean Blue and Sap Green. Painting across and down add a small amount of Sap Green leaving small areas of white to indicate waves. Keep the darkest blue at the horizon. Allow the ocean to dry.
Beach:Paint the areas of beach in a wet on wet technique, leaving some areas white, but paint in very pale shades of Yellow Ochre and Payne’s Gray. Allow to dry.
Sea Oats:Using a wash of Sap Green, Yellow Ochre and Van Dyke Brown, drop in these colors at the base of where you would like your sea oats. Paint one plant at a time. After dropping in your paint, use the edge of the credit card or the palette knife to pull up stems of sea grass. Then using the round brush, paint in some leaves by pulling up from the base. Paint all four plants in the same manner. After the plants have dried, use clean water and wet an area under the sea oats; this will be the shadows of the plant. Drop in a light shade of Payne’s gray mixed with Yellow Ochre to form the shadows under each plant. Allow to dry.
Finishing touches:Cover the sky and water with a tissue or sheet of paper to prevent spatters of paint from getting on this section. Use a wash of Vandyke Brown, Yellow Ochre and Payne’s Gray and spatter dots of the paint on the sand. This will indicate the small pebbles, shell and wood debris scattered along the beach. Allow to dry.
If you have trouble painting around the waves and leaving areas of the waves white, masking fluid can be used to mask off the waves while painting the water and then removed after the paint has dried. You will still need to go back and paint in some shadows in the waves to indicated movement.
Any substance that will “mask” the paper and prevent paint from settling on the page can be used to leave your wave areas white. In addition to masking fluid, I have used bits of masking tape to mask areas of the painting. If you don’t want straight lines, be certain to tear little bits of tape by hand rather than using scissors for an uneven edge.
Check your painting for any details you may want to add. When satisfied, sign your painting!
Congratulations and Happy Painting!