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Painting The Sea

Fun with Mixed Media Using Three Blues and a Green

Sometimes a subject can appear to be almost monochromatic when everything leans towards a single hue. This wild stretch of shoreline under a stormy sky was such a subject. All blues and deep greens - the challenge is to capture the subtlety and diversity of the limited color range.

Watercolor and Mixed Media Painting of The Sea

Indigo, French Ultramarine , Phthalo Blue and Phthalo Green made up the cool colors for this painting. Added to these were Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold to give a warm contrast to our predominantly cool palette.

White Gouache and Burnt Sienna Ink were also used.


A small plastic palette is attached to the lid of my regular palette to keep Gouache from polluting my watercolors

I used a 2” bristle brush and a 1/2” bristle brush for most of the painting. A 3” Hake was used dry to control washes on the unstretched paper. The painting was done on a full sheet of 300gsm (140lb) Arches CP.

Watercolor Palette used for painting the sea

The subject for this painting is this wild strip of coastline under a threatening, stormy sky.


A quick sketch with a fine marker pen sorted out the composition before paint was applied to paper.


Click the arrow (below right) to navigate through the various steps

After lightly drawing the composition onto the paper, I applied a wash of Ultramarine to the area of ocean around the horizon, softening and breaking it where the wave sprays above the rocks.

These monochromatic subjects are a lot of fun to experiment with, particularly when combining watercolor, Gouache and Ink. All sorts of unexpected reactions produce results that are not completely within your control.
The reaction between Indigo and White gouache creates some fantastic bleeding and feathering, while the dry Hake Brush can transform a rough, textured area to a smooth soft haze with a few strokes.

So find a suitable subject and have some fun.

A similar approach and the same combination of colors were used in these two paintings

Watercolor painting of tidal-shelf, breaking waves and storm sea
Watercolor painting of Antarctic iceburg

Author: John Lovett     © John Lovett 2020

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