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Old 03-12-2012, 05:54 PM
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Wink How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

I've had a number of pm's asking how to paint ocean scenes, mainly water. I thought I would share some observations and an example. There are many artists on WC who have mastered this topic and are extremely talented, have far more experience than what I'll be sharing and if you go to their personal website you'll see gorgeous paintings.

Hopefully the information below will help you get started - it's only my opinion. I'm not an expert in this area, but I've struggled enough in my quest to learn how to paint this subject matter that I have some things to pass along. Don't hesitate to ask any questions, chime-in with your own comments, etc.. We are here to help or receive help to broaden our artist abilities. Truth be told, I need all the help I can get and am eternally grateful for the unselfish assistance that has been given to me over the past eight months by many people on this website. I have a long ways to go as there are many nuances to learn about OP painting, but I'd like to share a few things that have started to make my learning process just a bit easier. Hopefully it will do the same for you. Thanks - Mary

The Marine section on WC is a treasure-trove of information pertaining to this topic. For one they have a e-book "thread" they've put together (free of charge) that is very well done and covers everything from constructing waves, to painting boulders and cliffsides. It's an excellent reference that you can download.

The Marine section has a thread w/tons of reference images. Excellent source of inspiration.

The Marine section has a thread that lists well-known Marine artist whose work is extraordinary. Well worth a look, not only for a review of their work, but because some of them have books/DVDs that you can purchase for a reasonable price and learn a great deal (and apply the techniques to oil pastels even though they are discussed for other mediums).

Many techniques can be translated for painting with OPs, it's a matter of thinking about a point that an instructor or artist may be trying to drive home and then applying it in practice. The point here is to practice, practice, and more practice.

I've spent many hours doing just that, concentrating on one area at a time like waves, rocks/boulders, etc. on scrap pieces of paper w/OPs. Taking information that I've accumulated either in books, on the internet or this site and applying it to paper. It's not a fun process, but I don't know how else to learn a subject matter that I really want to get much better at (that's what I'm currently doing with my Marsh series now, learning how to paint convincing short Marsh grass). In the end it's worth it, because a discovery process usually takes place.

Block out the painting (from sky/clouds, waves, landmass, rocks/boulders, right to the sand) on your support surface. This acts as a guide, especially for building waves, breakers, etc. Leave the areas that will be the brightest (tops of breakers, etc.) white-blank so that when you do paint them nothing will interfere w/illustrating the highest values.

Be sure the horizon line is straight.

When painting ocean water from the middle-to-horizon don't be afraid to put down many layers of paint on your support. You are trying to get a smooth almost buttery consistency so that you can munipulate/blend the OP paint.

A "wow" factor in ocean paintings, come from showing deep - clear water. Use the lowest value in the hue to illustrate deep water in your painting, don't blend with white or other hues higher in value. If you do you'll lose that look of deep water. This allows more contrast w/n the water.

Don't do wave details until you have your base of the waves and water layered in. If you don't wait, you'll end up having to work around your highlights and then finding the nearest tool to scrap the paint off and start over. In otherwords you'll muddy up your hues. Use your highlights - the highest value, for the sea foam - white caps. Color here would depend on the time of day and atmosphere.

When painting rough waves sea foam wake - you can use the same techniques used with other mediums to construct your waves. Here is the difference w/OP. When painting rough water with OPs try this method. Once you get paint layered in skim the OP paint over the surface lightly and you'll see it drag. Now begin to look for patterns in the paint, in otherwords - look what the OP leaves in its wake, a pattern that you can work with as if it's sea foam lines and patterns that you would normally see in the ocean. I love this part of painting the ocean - the patterns are there you only need to look.

Personally I struggle with large waves, breakers and sea foam. I have found it takes tremendous patience and concentration to get it convincing to the viewer. Sometimes it comes out decent and other times, I wonder - what the heck did I do? Again, trial and error.

Here is a step-by-step example of a painting that I did from a reference photo found on the Marine section. 11x 14 on gessoed hardboard.








Last edited by Flycatcher10 : 03-12-2012 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:13 PM
halthepainter halthepainter is offline
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Great tutorial Mary. Thank you.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:53 AM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Thanks Hal. You've been painting ocean scenes w/OPs for a long time, it would be great if you could add tips, techniques that you feel we could benefit from.

Tip: I just read over in Marine section that one artist (Marty C) gets his shadow greys on the sides of breakers by loading a coarse grain sponge w/blue-greys and sponging it on. Now I don't know if that would work with OPs. First OPs don't totally dry, so you'd be dabbing wet on wet surface Second, OPs don't load up with a lot of paint, but one might experiment w/taking lots of bits/pieces of Ops leftover and liquifying them (not real thin, but sort of a syrup-like thickness) and then loading the sponge. It may work. I tried it on a scrap piece of hardboard I use for experiments like this and it was laying down w/some interesting patterns. I'm going to give it a try on my next painting and see what happens.

There are many OP Artists on WC who paints seascapes, ocean or marine scenes. Please consider adding tips to this thread so that OP Artists will have a reference to go too.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:28 PM
halthepainter halthepainter is offline
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Mary, I'll defer to your expertise on ocean waves. I'm more a lighthouse, boat painter myself.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:08 AM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Mary, thank you for the tutorial. I did some practice based on your painting.
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:02 AM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Hi Sandra:

I went to see your practice - really very nice work. Your waves are coming along nicely, as is your other pieces.

Consider going into the first two waves and blend the water (not the foam) and then layer in additional paint. It will provide you with a finished look to the main body of the wave. After you've completed layering/blending as much paint as you feel is needed, you may want to add some foam trailers with light grey, or ash grey and then a couple of white highlights - when you drag your paint for the trailers you'll begin to see patterns evolve for the trailers.

I'm excited to see your final paintings.
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Old 03-16-2012, 05:25 PM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Thanks for doing this, Mary. Very instructive. Not my cup of tea and I can add nothing to it, but it will be very helpful to many.

Pat
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Old 03-17-2012, 04:18 PM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Thanks Pat - although you never know. There just might be something that pops to mind that you'd like to share.
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Old 03-17-2012, 07:10 PM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Mary, I've added more color to my pieces. I'll just post it here.



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Old 03-18-2012, 07:03 AM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Mary, thank you for this tutorial! I love that kind of big crashing waves, always wanted to be able to paint them well. You've given me some good ideas on how to approach them. This is fantastic!
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:09 AM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Hi Sandra: Nice work on your addition of colors - I'm beginning to see the depth of the water and the start of sea foam lines w/in the wave structure. You are getting there from the picture you've posted.

The next time you paint waves consider layering/blending in your paints before you add the the sea foam and foam lines (these should be done at the end). Keep layering/blending until the water starts to take in a smooth consistency - our instinct (at least mine) is to stop, but trust me all of a sudden you'll begin to see and feel this smoothness and it's at this point that you can start to put in the foam and foam lines.

Hi Robert: Thanks so much, I appreciate your comments. Can't wait to see a marine painting from you - you probably have many wonderful shots living in San Francisco (back in the 80's I lived on Pine Street, Pine and Polk actually). My all time favorite place to live! Lucky you ~

TIP received from VickiB - if you are trying to generate a thin white breaker line out in the distance, put a tiny bit of OP white down, grab the bit of the paint you put down w/the pointed end of a Kemper Wipe-out tool (or clay shaper that has a point) and lightly spread it across as line. It will lay in giving the appearance of a white breaker out in the distant.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:11 PM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Wow - that ocean appeared like magic. Thanks for doing this. I have something new to practice now.
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:37 PM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Hi Mary. Thanks for your comments on this thread. If there is a way us OP artists will find a way to do it. Personally I really wanted to paint ocean scenes, so I thought about information and techniques obtained from a variety of sources and worked on applying it to Oil Pastels.

We're looking forward to seeing marine/seascape paintings using OPs. And, if along the way you discover techniques that others might be able to use while painting this subject matter with OPs, please pass them along on this thread. It will help all of us grow our understanding of OPs.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:03 PM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

I've practiced even more on waves.

This piece started off as a horrendous piece of attempted portrait of the Japanese singer I drew in soft pastel here. But the Golden acrylics red was all over the place and I couldn't mop it up fast enough and so it was blotchy all over. I never listened to my own resolutions of not using acrylics for portraits. Always trying to test my limit. So I slather red Liquitex all over the entire piece and then slowly rubbed Mungyo Gallery artist quality oil pastel on heeding the advice from Flycatcher that I have to make all the spots full of colors first before I trail the white foam. In spots, I added Sennelier Jumbo white oil pastel.

Artist Loft Acrylic paper 9x12 inch

This is going onto the wall!! This is following Frederick Waugh's work.





The next piece is exactly the same scene but I did it on a small 6x8 inch Stillman & Birn Delta Spiral Bound sketchbook.

I wanted to test out my watercolor skills.

This page has Golden Crackle paste that makes the watercolor crackle but it didn't. But it allows me to put many layers of watercolor on without the page curling so I'm happy.

Since I didn't save enough white and the color was very weak since the ground absorbs the color tremendously and dulls it, I added Mungyo Gallery Artist grade oil pastel and Sennelier Jumbo oil pastel too just like the other one. Only that this one, I didn't fill every hole because I want a certain transparency still. It worked fine.

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Old 03-26-2012, 06:28 PM
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Re: How to Get Started in Painting Ocean Water Scenes Using OPs

Hey Sandra: Your paintings are wonderful!!! They have a painterly, loose feel to them, and an added bonus the viewer can definitely sense the waters movement and energy.

Both should be on the wall I'm loving them very much. You should consider posting them on Oil Pastel Studio so others can enjoy your work!

Way to go!
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