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How To Paint A Simple Beach Scene With Acrylics

how to paint a beach scene using acrylic paint - the finished painting

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So in my last post, I showed you how to paint watercolour ice cream cones and I also said that things were going to get pretty summery around here. And this tutorial for a quick and deceptively simple beach scene painting is right on theme!

If you’re looking at this project and thinking “Deceptively simple? There’s NO way I’m going to be able to do that!”, have a little more faith! I have a few hints to help make this painting as straightforward as possible.

First things first: my biggest tip. Use one shade of blue acrylic paint for the sky and another for the sea. I’m using ultramarine for the sky and phthalo blue for the sea because standard phthalo blue has a more greeny tone that suits the sea best.

But you also know that I always tell you to use what you have. So if you just have “blue” acrylic or craft paint, add a little green or an even tinier touch of yellow to give the sea a very subtle green tinge.

There’s also a workaround if you don’t have yellow ochre. For this, you can mix a tiny bit of purple (or a dot of red and a dot of blue) into some yellow to get a similar effect. The important thing is that the sand isn’t bright yellow.

And here are two more super quick tips before we get into the tutorial:

  1. Make sure the horizon is straight and parallel to the top and bottom of the page. A wonky horizon line will make your painting look odd!
  2. Keep your brushstrokes horizontal as much as possible.
This tutorial for a quick and deceptively simple beach scene painting is a great creative project for the summer. Click through for the steps to paint your own beach!

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How To Paint A Simple Beach Scene With Acrylics

Supplies needed

  • Watercolour/acrylic paper (if you don’t have this, thick paper or thin card will do. If it buckles, flatten the painting under a stack of books when it’s dry.)
  • A medium-sized flat paint brush
  • Acrylic paints in ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, yellow ochre, and titanium white (see above for workarounds)
  • Painter’s tape (masking tape will do in a pinch but it may take the surface off your painting if you’re not very careful)

Step one

We’re going to start with the sky, so stick a strip of tape across your page about a third of the way down. This will be the horizon line. Try to make sure it’s parallel to the top of the page, otherwise you’ll have a wonky horizon!

Step two

Dampen your brush, then mix some ultramarine blue with a little white. Start at the top of the page and paint long strokes across the page.

As you work down towards the tape, add more and more white into the mix until the blue at the horizon is fairly pale.

You should end up with a nice graduated sky. Don’t worry if it’s a little streaky as the streaks will just look like clouds.

This tutorial for a quick and deceptively simple beach scene painting is a great creative project for the summer. Click through for the steps to paint your own beach!

Step Three

We’re now going to start on the sand. Wash your brush really well or grab a clean one, then pick up a little yellow ochre and mix it with some white to make a pale yellow ochre.

Start from the bottom of the page and work up to cover at least the bottom third. We’ll bring the sea down over it, so don’t worry about making a neat edge.

And it’s also fine if the colour isn’t even and uniform the whole way across – it looks more realistic that way.

This tutorial for a quick and deceptively simple beach scene painting is a great creative project for the summer. Click through for the steps to paint your own beach!

Step four

Now we’ll move onto the sea. Remove the tape from the horizon, and as long as the sky is dry, stick another piece the other side of the horizon to keep the sharp edge.

Pick up some phthalo blue on a clean brush, mix in a tiny bit of white, and start painting horizontal strokes along the horizon line.

As you work down the page, add more and more white until you have a very pale blue where the waves wash up on the shore.

Make sure you bring the water down over the sand, and paint an uneven edge along the shore.

Step five

Mix a tiny bit of blue and a little yellow ochre to make a kind of brown. Hold the brush upright and use the tip to add a rough line along the edge of the water.

This will be a shadow, and although I know it doesn’t look like it at this stage it will make all the difference in the end!

Let the painting dry.

This tutorial for a quick and deceptively simple beach scene painting is a great creative project for the summer. Click through for the steps to paint your own beach!

Step six

Remove the tape. We’re now going to add some white details. Dab some white paint onto the sea where it meets the shore to make foam, trying not to make it too uniform as you do. Don’t worry if a bit of white goes over the shadow you painted.

Make a few horizontal marks in the sea further back, for a little distant foam. Make sure that the marks get smaller the further back you go.

And there you have it – you’ve just painted a simple beach scene!

This tutorial for a quick and deceptively simple beach scene painting is a great creative project for the summer. Click through for the steps to paint your own beach!

Want to take this further? Check out 9 Ways To Make A Mixed Media Beach Scene!

And if you’re ready to learn more about acrylic painting, check out this article: Acrylic Painting Terms: A Glossary For Beginners!

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About Stacey

Stacey headshot

I’m Stacey and I’m a blogger, abstract artist and freelance writer. My aim is to help busy people feel inspired and get more creative with tutorials, hints and tips.

I live in Cardiff with my partner and dog, and in my free time you’ll find me hiking, reading, painting or sampling a craft beer or two.

8 thoughts on “How To Paint A Simple Beach Scene With Acrylics”

  1. thank you for a simple and informative tutorial. I found this very helpful and made a nice simple pic I may take to my office. Only comment is that when you say to mix yellow orchre with blue you do not say which blue so I had to experiment. It might also help to say it can be more blue than brown (spent alot of time making bown to see that it was really a mix with deep blue to shadow thw surf.

    Anyway – great for me. Thank you!

  2. Carolin Helfenstein

    I’d love to paint something like this but on canvas for a wall in a bedroom. So some much larger . I love your easy directions and the colors. Blue’s my favorite colors.

    Would love any suggestions.

    Thanks
    Carolin

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