Mixed Media Color Studio
Color choices can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to blue. How do you choose the right shade? Blues can be warm or cool. If the color has red undertones, it’s considered warm; if it has green undertones, it’s considered cool. The blue you choose is entirely up to you, and
I encourage you to play and experiment to discover what you like best.
This lesson will not only expose you to myriad blue hues, but it will also bolster your acrylic painting practice. If you don’t have a million blues like I do, return to the color wheel warm-up lesson and mix a variety of blues using the modern primaries. Once you have a nice selection, begin playing with paint and create these lovely small seascapes.
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For this lesson, we’ll be working on multiple mini canvases at the
same time; I worked on four at once. Doing this offers a chance to
experiment with more shades of blue. Painting multiple canvases
helps establish a cohesive series, even if different color palettes are
used. I also find that while working on several canvases, one idea
leads to another, which I can try instantly on another piece.
Begin each painting with a different acrylic paint ground. A ground
is a first layer of color on a canvas that influences the overall tone
of the painting. I usually like to use warm colors such as pink, yellow,
orange, or red mixed with white to create contrast with the blue
added later. To give the surface a painterly look, don’t completely
blend all the paint, but allow for variation in the marks. Allow to dry.
Take It to the Edge
Don’t forget to paint the edges of the canvases; this makes the pieces look complete and ready to present.
Create the sand for the seascape. I used my favorite combination of paint colors: Titan buff, Van Dyke brown, and warm gray. To achieve
the striations in the paint that mimic sand, dip a paintbrush in two or more colors of paint and brush them onto the canvas. Paint about
one-quarter of the way up from the bottom, and do not blend the colors completely.
To create the ocean, keep two things in mind:
Water is usually darker at the horizon, and the
horizon line is always straight. Select a darker blue,
such as phthalo or Prussian blue, and create a
straight line for the water about one-third of the
way up on the canvas. While the blue paint is still
wet, mix a dab of white into the blue and slightly
cover the sand, allowing it to peek out from the
surf. Don’t forget to paint the edges of the canvas.
Allow to dry.
Mix in more white with the blue, and remember that the sky is usually much lighter at the horizon. Go with the flow, but don’t overbrush and lose the marks you’ve created. The unblended marks represent the clouds. Also, be mindful of not covering up the entire ground color; this will give your painting a sunset glow.
At this stage, I like to allow my intuition to take over while continuing to paint the sky. I let the previous layers tell me where to put the next marks. Does a brushstroke look like a cloud or a windswept sky? Make sure you let the marks be. Don’t overthink this step or you may overblend the sky and cover up the bright pops
of yellow or pink underneath.
Creating waves and ocean breaks tends to use very similar
methods as painting the clouds. Using a dry brush and a
little white paint, drag the brush across the edge of the water
where it hits the sand. Allow the brush to skip on the surface and make irregular marks. An abstract seascape should look believable but not completely realistic, so be mindful of the horizon line, shading, shadows, and color details.