Learning how to paint sea and clouds in watercolor can seem tricky. A technique you can try that works well with clouds and sea is to layer your watercolors. Until now I have been using a layering technique with watercolors mostly for portraits because I find this is a great way to convey the subtle tones of skin and to avoid hard edges. For a seascape I wanted to try that technique to paint the clouds and the sea.
I did mount the watercolor paper with my drawing on board before I start painting.
If you are interested in that technique you can read the post here: Mounting Watercolor paper on board
Here is how to paint sea and clouds in watercolor using a layering technique
When layering watercolors I am always starting with the yellow layer as I am going to be using Yellow Ocher and this is the least transparent of all the colors I will use.
I start painting only with yellow ocher watercolor. I am wetting the paper with plain water before I start painting the sky, so I am sure all the edges will stay soft. I am also creating some white areas by removing paint with a tissue paper
For the blue layer I want to use two tones of blue, a warmer ultramarine blue and a colder Cobalt Turquoise blue
Once the yellow layer is completely dry I start adding a layer of Ultramarine blue to the sea.When dry I start painting the boats and add details to the sea.
Before painting the clouds, I protect the boats I just painted with masking fluid so I can paint with large gesture and not have the dark blue on the boats bleed into the sky.
I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.
This fluid is used to create striking white highlights or to mask areas for overpainting at a later stage. It forms a fast-drying, water-resistant film on watercolor paper and board, and is easily removed when dry.
I am also using masking tape to keep a clean edge between the sea and sky.
I am then wetting the sky area with plain water before painting the clouds, I am using ultramarine on the top part and cobalt on the lower part.
For the red layer I am going to use Alazarin crimson watercolor.
Same palette of traditional colors the great masters used a century ago. Liquid-poured means semi-moist pans respond instantly to a wet brush. 24 pans in plastic case. Also individual pans. – Master Set
I then add a very light layer of red on the sky and sea areas, I am also adding some red to the boats
The last step I am taking is scrubbing off a bit of color with a stiff brush and lots of water, then adding a bit more white with a fine layer of gouache.
Click on image to buy Print or Original Painting.
Here is a time lapse video that will show you the whole process in about 4 minutes