Learn how to paint a large ocean wave with a sunset background! This is a really easy beginner painting!
The design of this wave can be done on literally any canvas size! I did it on two 9″ x 12″ canvases.
You can do this on two canvases and put them together as a duo (or couples) painting.
This also works as a single painting.
Art teachers & parents! If you are painting this with your students/ kids, it is a great lesson to teach about warm and cool colors! You can discuss how the cool blues and warm pinks/yellows contrast each other. When you have “warm and cool” colors in a painting, it helps the design to “pop”.
Enjoy and happy painting!
- Two 9 x 12 Canvases (or any size)
- Acrylic Paint
- Drawing Pencil
- Optional Traceables
- Optional Chalk
- Titanium White
- Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue
- Cobalt Blue Hue
- Turquoise Blue
- Medium Magenta
- See tutorial on www.stepbysteppainting for full detailed instructions!
This painting was done on two 9" x 12" size canvases. The design works on literally any size. You can do this as a single painting or a duo (couples) painting.
Directions At A Glance
There are traceable downloads for the left and the right waves below.
Step By Step Directions
1. Draw the wave & horizon line
Draw lightly with a pencil or use the provided traceable. Draw a horizon line about 3 inches from the top of the canvas. Use a t-square ruler or straight edge to do this.
Note: if you are doing the duo painting, draw and paint the wave as a mirrored image.
Then lightly draw the wave shape so it curls and dips slightly below the horizon line.
2. Paint a sunset
Use a 3/4″ Flat Wash brush. Start at the top of the canvas and paint medium magenta left and right strokes.
Then gently blend yellow into the magenta so that the sky turned to a yellow/ orange.
Next blend white into the sky at the bottom. Do your best to paint around the wave drawing but it is okay if you paint over some of it.
3. Paint The Water
Start on the far right (or far left) and paint horizontal strokes using medium magenta mixed with a little titanium white. Use the flat tip of your brush to paint short horizontal strokes.
Then mix yellow with some white. Paint more horizontal strokes in the water with the yellow. Blend it a little with the pink.
Next completely rinse brush. Load cobalt blue hue on your palette. Paint horizontal strokes with cobalt blue hue. Try not to mix the blue with the yellow (otherwise you may have green in your water).
Then add titanium white to your brush that has the cobalt blue hue on it. Paint horizontal stroke with white on the water. Paint these strokes in the white and the pink/ yellow area.
Paint some blue horizontal strokes I the pink/ yellow area too.
4. Paint the Wave
Use the color “turquoise blue” and your 3/4″ flat wash brush to paint the wave. Start on the inner part of the wave.
Paint long strokes with your brush that go in the direction of the wave.
Then wipe off your brush (but don’t rinse). Load it into titanium white.
Blend that titanium white into the turquoise so the wave gets gradually lighter on the outer part of it.
Then continue to add more white to the wave. Paint in large, curved strokes.
5. Paint Highlights On Wave
Then paint turquoise on the bottom part of the water, having the water go horizontal on the bottom part under the wave. You can add cobalt blue hue in there as well.
Use your round brush to paint bright white water lines on the inner part of the wave as well as the bottom underneath the wave.
These white lines will be used as a base for some of the sunset color after the white dries.
6. Paint Splash Texture
Use a round “bristle brush” to paint the splash texture. Load it into titanium white and tap the brush to create the texture.
Add splash texture to the tip, the bottom and top of the wave.
Then use a toothbrush to splatter white paint in the areas where you did the splash texture (or pretty much all over the wave if you want).
7. Add Sunset Reflection To Wave (optional)
Next use your round brush and add yellow and pink over the white reflection lines.
8. Add More Water Texture Lines
I tend to go overboard with too many water lines but I love color! I added more darker water lines as well as more white lines.
I also used a round brush to paint some individual tiny circles on the wave with more titanium white.
9. Paint the sun
If you are doing this as a “duo couples painting” you can have your sun right in the middle. Otherwise paint your sun anywhere on the horizon line.
Then paint some more white/ yellow reflection lines below the sun.
10. Paint the heart
This is a reflection on the bottom of the canvas. You can pair your canvases together and draw a heart with a piece of chalk.
Then draw white/ yellow reflection lines inside the heart shape. When the paint dries, you can erase the chalk with a clean wet paint brush or a damp paper towel.
I decided to finish this painting off by painting the sides of the canvas black! You can paint the sides of your canvas the same as the painting (gallery wrap) or choose a solid color.
Don’t forget to sign your name and show it off!