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How to paint small waves

You may have wondered how those bright lines on the shallow end of a swimming pool come into being - or when you wade in shallow waters, on a sunny day, how the patterns rippling across the sand are made? Well so did I so I took myself to the seaside on a sunny day and looked and looked (all in the nature of an artist's everyday grind).

Left is a photograph I took so you will can see what I mean. Below is another with an analysis of the reflected light that operates on the surface as the eye is raised.

So how do these bright lines on the sand form? Well they form because the top of the wave is not sharp but curved like a lens, and like a lens, it focuses the light (see diagram opposite).

Were the wave 'peaked' the opposite would occur as shown in the second diagram.

OK so now we know that small waves are usually rounded. The more scientifically minded might say the were flattened by gravity or that water finds its own level.

Whatever the case I want you to consider the information in the photograph below and understand how the total structure of sand, wave, light and reflected light works.

Let's not waste too much time on the beach but get back to the studio and see what we can make from the information we have learned, gathered and understood. Follow me!

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