Every summer I re-read Treasure Island, and without fail, I begin to hear the call of the sea. As an artist, I’ve never really been able to answer that call. Oh, I’ve dabbled around a bit — and subconsciously my fascination with pirates of old has come out in drawings I’ve made, but painting a real seascape has been far beyond my capabilities.
When I learned to use soft pastels, I created a few seascapes, like this one:
I tried watercolor:
And I tried oil:
Although the pastel painting came out fairly good, the watercolor and my first oil attempts left a lot to be desired.
So do my current attempts.
Painting ocean waves, I’ve come to see, is not easy. I do slightly better when I paint quiet seashores, such as this one, painted from the graphite sketch I made at the July “Open Studio” sponsored by our Tri-County Art League.
My Pirate Cove painting also turned out well:
Oh, but waves! Crashing waves, rolling waves, big waves and even little waves… all seem to elude me. I get the tops too thick, my colors are all wrong, and I haven’t yet learned to capture that quintessential feeling of movement which is what draws us, I think, to seascapes and marine paintings.
And then there are boats. I’ve tried painting sailboats. The results have not been good.
During my daily drawing practice, I’m now drawing a lot of boats, trying to learn the basic shapes so that someday I’ll be able to add them to my paintings.
Along with boats, there are also lighthouses. Everyone loves lighthouses, and I would love to be able to draw and paint them. That’s another area where I’m currently doing a lot of practice. The piece below is one of my in-progress practice paintings. I sure misjudged the height when I painted in the lighthouse, but please, look at the rocks I’ve painted. I’m proud of those rocks. I’m even getting better at showing the sunlight on the rocks.
All in all, I have a long way to go in learning to paint seascapes, also known as nautical or marine paintings. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available, and I have several books on the way. I love getting used art books from Amazon.
Here are several instructional books that might be of interest if, like me, you’re wanting to answer the call of the sea.
These are written primarily for oil painters, but you’ll find instruction books for acrylics and watercolor, as well.
And if you’re already adept at creating seascapes but would like to add boats, lightouses, and other nautical elements, there are books to help with that, too.
This is just a quick look at what’s available. There are many, many more books. You’ll also find tutorials online — which is what I’m about to check out. Maybe the next time I’m swept away with a wave of inspiration, I’ll be able to create something worthy of the grandeur and majesty of the sea.