How to Do a Watercolor of a Beach with Sailboats

Опубликовал Admin
30-05-2017, 03:00
Nothing says summer like bright sunshine and a day at the beach. This painting is done in two colors organized in three horizontal stripes. It truly comes to life when sailboats float onto the scene. Enjoy painting an imaginary day at the beach and learn new techniques while having fun with watercolors.

Preparing and Sketching

  1. Gather your supplies.  You will need an 11 X 14" piece if watercolor paper from a pad. Leave it attached and turn it back so the cardboard supports your work. Tube watercolors work best for the large washes. Get them in two shades of brown and two blues. Also, a pan of primary and secondary colors for accents. You will need a palette for mixing colors, a variety of brushes, including a 1" flat, small and large round, pointed brushes and a liner brush. A rake brush is nice for doing grass, but not absolutely necessary. Gather a water container, wide masking tape, scissors, and a drinking or cocktail straw. Immediately squeeze out a small amount of each of the tube paints onto your palette and activate them with a few drops of water. Wet the dry pads of paint in the set, too.
  2. Hold your paper horizontally.  Draw two lines dividing the page into three areas; beach, the water and sky. Try to make varied divisions rather than equal shapes for visual interest.
  3. Make the sails.  Cut a two inch piece of masking tape from the roll. Cut two diagonal pieces off, one from each side to form a triangle for the sails of a boat. Repeat, making as many triangles as you want boats.
  4. Mask out the sails.  Tape the triangles on the center space (or space designated for the water) on your paper. Make the triangles smaller for boats that will be in the distance. Rub to secure them tightly to your paper. Keep them far back from the shore where deeper water is better for sailing.

Painting the Background

  1. Paint the bottom strip for the sandy beach.  Make a good puddle of yellow/gold paint with water on your palette, thinned with water to the consistency of milk. Test your mixture on a scrap of watercolor paper. It should be dense enough get the most from your color, but thin enough to allow the white of the paper to shine through. It will lighten as it dries, so allow for that.
  2. Paint the beach in three or four strokes with a 1" flat brush. Load the brush fully enough to try and get from side to side in one stroke. It should glide smoothly, and be wet all the way across. Starting at the top of the sand, work downward. A few skips of white paper are good to give sparkle to the yellow/gold sand. Using a small, pointed brush, or by dipping a corner of the flat brush into a darker brown paint a few horizontal lines in the sand.
  3. Paint the water.  Follow the previous method for making a big puddle of paint. Paint the water as you did the sand, in a few juicy strokes from side to side. Allow for some skips of white paper to show through. Once a line is painted, try not to go back over it to preserve the freshness. Add some horizontal strokes of darker blue for accents.
  4. Paint right over the masked sails.
  5. Do the sky.  Dilute the blue puddle even further to make a sky color. Add, if you wish, other shades of blue for variety.
  6. Plan for the clouds. Do them one of three ways. Either paint around them to retain the white paper, dab with a crushed up tissue to remove the blue paint or allow the sky to set for a minute and introduce water carefully from a pointed brush so that "blossoms" will form. Use a "thirsty brush" or one that is damp and clean to remove excess water from the inside of the cloud. Note that the color will be pulled to the outside of the wet area forming a blue outlined "blossom."
  7. Allow the piece to dry before unmasking. Hasten the wait time by using a hairdryer and carefully remov the masking tape triangles.
  8. Add finishing touches for the background. Bring the piece together, starting at the top. Shade the clouds using a thin gray and a pointed brush. All clouds have subtle and sometimes angry looking shadows in them. These areas will give the clouds depth and fullness. Try to soften many of the hard edges to avoid an outlined look.

Painting the Boats

  1. Paint the bodies of the boats. Beneath each of the white sails, make a quick, red or other color stroke with the tip of a round, pointed brush. Allow this to dry.
  2. Finish the sails. Use a liner brush or the point of a small, round brush to make a line for the masts. Add flags at the top in any color you wish. Suggest people in the boats with tiny dark dots and dashes.
  3. Add shadows to the sails. This will show depth and puffiness of the sails. Put a stroke of gray beneath the boats using a neutral, transparent gray paint. Test your gray before using on a piece of scrap watercolor paper. It should remain visible when dry, but be transparent. Do the shadows in a single confident swipe and don't try to edit them. Do them fast and only once. Allow to dry.

Adding Details

  1. Do final tweaks on all parts of the painting. With a scrub brush, remove some of the color on the boats. This gives them the appearance of roundness and being solid masses. Remove quite a lot of the color from the boats in the distance to give the illusion that they are far away. Scrub sections of the sails to soften the lines and reduce the use of the masking tape to make the sails
  2. Make the rocks. Charge a 1" flat brush with deep brown and in one swipe, using a twisting motion, add some rocks clustered on the shore.
  3. Show water splashing against the rocks. Run a crescent of diluted gray or blue at the top of one rock and blow air through the straw to spatter the paint in an upward pattern to mimic spray. Repeat for each rock.
  4. Fix the water on the shoreline. Show where the water has come up on the sand and dampened it by running a brush with diluted blue or brown onto the sand.
  5. Make small waves. Using a pointed brush, make check marks in darker blue along the water line to resemble small wave peaks. Follow by using a scrubby brush or a piece of magic household eraser to remove a little white from the tops of each check mark to look like foam.
  6. Spatter the sand. Texture the sand with a bristle brush or toothbrush dabbed in thick paint. Aim it down toward the sand and run your finger over the bristles to throw dots of color onto the sand.
  7. Add beach grasses with a small pointed brush and green paint. Do clusters and not too many.

Finishing Up

  1. Do finishing touches. Allow the piece to dry thoroughly and stand back to look at it from a distance. Add shadows under the rocks. Also do a final, short, dark stroke at the bottom of the boats to pop each boat out and accent them against the water.
  2. Look again at the clouds. If you can heighten the white it will make them appear to have depth. Use a piece of household white magic eraser to gently wipe out white highlights.
  3. Sign the piece and enjoy it. It will bring the peacefulness of a summer day at the beach back to you whenever you look at it.


  • Save attempting precision and perfection for another painting. This one is suggestive of boats, water and sand and intended to be an artists' interpretation, not a guidebook for sailing.
  • To better understand the workings of boats, rocks and clouds, do research on the internet. Feel free to add or subtract whatever you wish, but for a quick little painting, this one will teach you many new things.
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