Hi! I’m Andrea England, a watercolor artist living on a little yellow sailboat. Of course, I love painting the ocean. Creating waves in watercolor is very meditative, and I love the warm glow of sunset colors when I paint. I leave white ripples through my work which build up a feeling of movement and light in the water. People often ask me how I do it, so I’m sharing my techniques for World Watercolor Month – my favourite month of the year!
This is a great activity to try with kids, whether you’re trying to paint what you see on a beach vacation or having fun at the kitchen table.
300gsm (140lb) watercolor paper is a great choice for this style of painting as it won’t buckle unless you use lots of water. If you’re using lighter weight paper, it’s best to stretch it first by wetting the whole sheet with clean water then taping it to a board with masking tape/decorator’s tape. Let it dry totally before you start the painting. I prefer a brush that snaps back to a point to get crisp lines, but this technique works with softer brushes too.
I leave very carefully-defined white lines between my shapes. However, you can let your marks touch and combine for a less fussy approach, or leave wider spaces if that’s more fun for you. Playing with this style will make it your own and you’ll come up with something unique and special!
Pencilling In The Shapes
This is an intuitive way of painting and works best if you don’t over-plan it. I pencil out the shape of the boat, a wavy horizon line and drew round a small cup to create the sun and its reflection. Try to curve the lines for the boat’s sails to give them a feeling of movement. Press gently so the lines won’t show up too much in the finished painting.
I like to start off painting the sun so I can keep my yellows bright and clean. I use two pots of water, one for cleaning my brushes and one for wetting my pans of paint. I start off by painting a dot in my sun. I like it best if it’s a little wobbly and off-centre. I then paint curves round my sun until I’ve filled the space. I try not to paint over my pencil lines so I can erase them later.
Next I paint the sun’s reflection. I fill in the circle by painting ripples. I let some of my lines to go outside the circle so it looks like the water is moving.
I then choose a more orange yellow and paint round the outside of my circle. I paint bigger areas as I fill in the sky and use smaller ripply lines for the water. I try to keep my lines flowing in the same direction.
As I paint farther from the sun, I add warm red to my mix. I start a new mix when its time to add the cooler red as I don’t want my colors to get muddy.
I keep filling in the sky with large areas of paint then paint the ripples below. I added some ultramarine to my crimson to create a purple, then used some pure ultramarine to fill the last spaces.
I decided to leave my boat white, but if you wanted you could use pale grey to add some shading, or you could make the boat a black silhouette in marker, paint, crayon or collage. Very young children might find this easier than painting in around the boat.
Taking It Further
How could you alter your color choices to create a sunny day, a starry night or a moody storm? Does the size of the marks you make alter the feel of the water? What if you let some of the colored spaces touch or overlap whilst wet, or glazed over with a slightly different color when your paint has dried? How does the effect change if you don’t leave any white spaces, but add white lines with gouache or gel pen later? How about drawing the lines in first with white crayon, oil pastel or frisket? What if you make the lines black or blue? Could you use different kinds of boats or sea creatures? How about bringing in some collage shapes for your silhouettes?
Instead of a wavy line, use a ruler to draw a straight line for your horizon. Add a city skyline in black over your sky using paint or marker, then create reflections by painting some of your ripples black (leave the white lines to be a reflection). What other landscapes could you create- African savannas? Mountain ranges? Alien worlds?
What if you make the lines vertical instead of horizontal? What could they be? Could you use this technique to create grass and vegetation?
(Andrea England is a World Watercolor Month 2019 Artist Ambassador! Click Here to Read Andrea’s Artist Feature on Doodlewash!)Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in
Andrea England sails and sketches through the Pacific islands, on a voyage from New Zealand to Canada via French Polynesia and Hawaii. With stunning landscapes, incredible wildlife and rich cultures there’s always something to enthrall and inspire her! She finds watercolour is perfect for capturing the magic of the ocean and the wonderful islands she’s sailing through.