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how to make a mixed media beach scene: 9 techniques

9 Ways To Make A Mixed Media Beach Scene

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How many ways can you think of to take a painting and build on it with mixed media? In this blog post I’m sharing nine things you can do to make a mixed media beach scene, with some tips and techniques for each. There really are SO many possibilities…

This blog post builds on my tutorial How To Paint A Simple Beach Scene With Acrylics. It’s such a popular blog post and so many people have had a go at painting their own beach scene that I thought it’d be fun to add to that. 

Adding mixed media elements to a painting is a lot of fun anyway, but it’s especially satisfying when you’re working with an image that has a lot of possibilities for different textures. 

A beach scene is perfect, since you have the glistening water, the foam where the sea washes up on the beach, the sand, pebbles and shells, seaweed, driftwood, clouds… You can see there are lots of possibilities.

Although I’ve mentioned the beach scene painting tutorial, you don’t actually have to paint it if you don’t want to. You could create the image in another way, such as with coloured pencils or watercolours, then build on it with mixed media. 

There’s also the option to make the beach from a collage of torn paper, or print out an image from your computer. Why not try a few different approaches to see which one you like best? 

Either way, you have a lot of options for making this project your own. So let’s take a look at 9 ways to make a mixed media beach scene!

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1. Add some sand 

Mix some sand into some PVA glue (white craft glue) to give the beach some texture.

If you don’t have any sand available but you have an acrylic medium like modelling paste (I have the Winsor & Newton modelling paste) you can use that instead. Just mix it in with some of the yellow ochre colour you used to paint the sand, and add it to the page. 

Alternatively, you can apply the modelling paste to the page first, then paint over it. This is what I usually do as I find it easier. And when working with modelling paste, I usually use a palette knife to save my brushes!

Another option would be something like black lava medium (such as this), which is perfect if you want to create a beach with black sand rather than the traditional yellowish sand. 

2. Add a palm tree 

There are lots of different ways you can add a palm tree on the beach. Obviously you could paint it, but as we’re talking mixed media in this post, how about one of the following:

  • Watercolour pencils (I love my Reeves set)
  • Paint pens (I like the Posca brand)
  • Make a paper collage, using small pieces of different paper (various browns for the trunk and greens for the leaves)
  • Use scraps of fabric. Anything the right colour would work, but jute or hessian would be perfect for the trunk, while felt would be great for the leaves

3. Add some driftwood and/or pebbles

Stick some tiny sticks or pieces of dry grass/hay/straw onto the sand to become driftwood.

If you’re already adding to the sand (see the first idea), you could embed this into the modelling paste. 

To add some pebbles, you could try a glass bead texture gel (like this one). You can then paint over that with acrylic paint. 

4. Add some clouds 

In the original beach scene painting we keep the sky fairly clear, but there’s nothing to say it has to stay that way! 

Because the colours used in the painting are fairly bright, like it’s a hazy summer’s day, it would look a bit strange to include dark storm clouds. But there are several ways you could add some white, fair weather clouds:

  1. Add some strands of cotton wool to make thin, streaky clouds, or use a bit more to make more substantial, fluffy clouds
  2. Use chalk pastels and blend them out with your fingers to create some delicate clouds
  3. Incorporate some scraps of fabric to make abstract cloud shapes

5. Add some seabirds 

A quick and easy way to add to your painting is to draw in some seagulls or other birds with a fine pen or pencil. 

And they don’t have to be elaborate drawings, either. A simple shallow V shape drawn in the sky works well if it’s kept small, as it hints at a bird in the distance. 

Add a few birds, at different heights. Mix up the angle the birds are at in comparison to each other, to make it look like they’re flying around each other. You could also add a gentle curve to the lines to look like the wings are flapping.

Try not to draw them all the same, or else they’ll look too uniform and unnatural.

6. Add something to the sea 

I’ve deliberately kept this vague as there are SO many possibilities here. Perhaps you could add the sails of a yacht far out to sea, the fin of a shark or dolphin or the tail of a whale disappearing back beneath the surface.

Depending on what object you’re adding to the sea, you might find it easier to use a pencil to draw it in. Then you can use a pen, marker or coloured pencil to add colour and detail. 

You could also cut out or tear some paper shapes to stick on. 

7. Add some people

Maybe you don’t want your beach to be deserted? You could add in some figures paddling in the shallow water, or a person walking a dog on the sand. 

You could: 

  • Draw them
  • Cut them out of paper or a magazine
  • Build them up from smaller torn pieces of paper
  • Even use photographs of your family or friends!

8. Add some footprints 

Perhaps you’re happy for your beach to be deserted, but you’d like to add a sign that someone was just here. In that case, why not add some footprints in the sand?

For this, my suggestion is to use coloured pencils or chalk pastels, or something else that creates a soft edge.

If you’re planning to add texture to your sand, this might be more difficult. But you could add footprints while you’re adding the texture. To do this, use a palette knife or the end of a paintbrush handle or pencil to shape footprints into the modelling paste (or whatever medium you’re using). 

9. Add some lettering 

If you enjoy hand lettering, you could add some text to your painting. Maybe you could add a quote. Or to keep in line with the beach theme, how about a message in a bottle?

And if you don’t feel confident hand lettering, you could:

  • Use stickers
  • Use letter stamps
  • Cut out words or letters from a magazine, newspaper or old book 

Do you have any other ideas for ways to add details to a mixed media beach scene? Share them in the comments below if you do!

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