Painting Crashing Waves In Watercolor | Eva Nichols | Skillshare

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Painting Crashing Waves In Watercolor

teacher avatar Eva Nichols, Watercolor Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (44m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Painting The Sky

    • 4. Painting The Rocks

    • 5. Painting The Rocks & Crashing Waves

    • 6. Final Details

    • 7. Class Project Description & Samples

    • 8. Wrap Up

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About This Class

Class Description


In this class I will show you how to paint ocean spray and waves crashing against rocks.

In the process you will learn some basic watercolor techniques such as wet-into-wet, dry brushing, creating soft and "lacy" edges, as well as some fun and easy ways to create crashing water and waves in an ocean or large body of water.  You can use these techniques to create wonderful, dynamic seascapes.

Whether you are a beginner, or a more experienced watercolorist this class is sure to teach you new and exciting watercolor techniques to enhance and bring new excitement to your watercolors!

  1. Introduction and sample of a finished painting created with the watercolor techniques we will use for this project.
  2. Discussion of materials used in this painting demo. Light sketching as needed.
  3. Painting the background sky using wet-into-wet and dry-brushing techniques, as well as creating the beginning of spray and crashing water.
  4. Painting the rocks and ocean water and spray using wet-into-wet technique, as well some dry brushing techniques to create the crashing waves and ocean spray.
  5. Evaluating and completing the painting.
  6. For your class project you will paint along using the watercolor techniques demonstrated to create your own seascape with crashing waves and ocean spray.

Please make sure to post your painting to the project gallery!

This class is great for both beginners as well as more experienced watercolor enthusiasts. No previous painting or drawing skills necessary – just an open mind and a playful spirit!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Eva Nichols

Watercolor Artist


Hi, I am Eva Nichols, a Danish born watercolorist residing in Truckee, California where I love being part of the creative community. I show my work at various galleries in California and Nevada, and teach watercolor classes both locally as well as nationally and internationally. 

I love watercolors because the are such a lively, interactive medium. My painting inspiration comes from nature and traveling. Sharing what I have learned about watercolor over the years is my passion.

I like to keep my classes fun and inspiring, letting the watercolors flow and make them paint for me taking advantage of "happy accidents"!

You can watch some of my demos on my YouTube Channel: Eva Nichols Art

For tracings & handouts or to sign up for my Newsletter please go t... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi and welcome to my studio today. We're going to tackle water and water column and this specific type of water I'm going to show you today is crashing waves when waves crash up against rocks. I've had lots of opportunity to observe what that looks like because I lived on the March Way Peninsula in Northern California for 20 years, and it's right on the Pacific Coast and his very rocky shoreline. Um, and you know, the swells from the Pacific will crash up against the rocks, even on the most calm day. So that's why I have got my inspiration. And I'm going to share these techniques with you today, So grab your brushes and your paint supplies and we'll get started. 2. Materials: So today I was gonna show you how to paint water that splashes up against rocks in the ocean. You know, when the swell comes in. So I have made a little sketch, and all I've done is just mark out my horizon line the outline off a couple of rocks. I have two year and then one bigger one in the foreground. And I just indicated whether rice in line was we didn't do the line all the way through because, you know, I don't want to have a line going through my splashes here, so you might not be able to see it very well, because it did you lame lines very fit. And I want you to do that, too. It's done on a eight by 10. I just cold pressed £300 watercolor paper. But, you know, even used whatever size you like. Um, and, um, my watercolor palette and I've already sprayed my colors. And you do need to spray bottles, different kinds of spray bottles. It's great if you could get some that will make some nice kind of, um, marks like that. Can you see that? Let me. So, men. So you could maybe see what it did on my table. Can you see that? That kind of splash is just what I'm looking for. Lazy parents. And, um, so you'll just have to explain. Experiment. You can see there. Um, we just have to experiment with whatever spray bottles you can lay your hands on a raid, your kitchen, go out. You know, sometimes beauty supply stores of great to find some good spray balls, and, uh, the college's we're going to be using today is my basic basic palette. We're gonna be using French arts, marine blue, cobalt blue, probably some Antwerp blue, some bird, Shana and transparent yellow or not, or another yellow nickel Asia yellow or issues connected on gold. And I'm having a little bit of my queen actually read on stand by. I don't know if I will be using it, but just in case, um And then, of course, our brushes And you might, you know, a pencil and, um possibly a ruler. If you like me, I'm unchallenged. Straight challenge that would like to say needed a razor in case you just need to kind of have up off your lines if they get to have it. And then as far as brushes go, I am probably gonna use my big fat 30 round and, uh, my dad a brush for sure. And then I have a size 12 8 and four off brown brushes. So whatever size this you have, and I don't even know if I'm gonna use them all, But I just like to have them here and then just in case I need help with my splashes. I have my Exacto knife on the ready. And should everything fail a little bit off white watercolor paint to compete, Quash, or here I have the AC recover from creative Mark. They called it act recover. Liquid watercolor paper decided to cover our just bright white, which is what I'm painting on. I don't know if I need it. If if I'm having a good splash day, I won't need it. If I'm having a bad slash day, I might need it. So, um, that's what we're gonna be using former chairs. I think I mentioned everything. And then, of course you need You need to two containers of clean water. I want to rent out your brush and want to keep clean for diluting the colors. And you know what in the paper and that kind of stuff. So grab your materials, so let's get started. 3. Painting The Sky: first thing I'm going to be doing is just getting my puddles ready. So I want to get Cobalt Blue. I want to get French ultra Marine blue and I want to get boots una put that up here. And then I also want to get a little bit off the transparent yellow and some over here and then one more blue, which would be the end. You have to have. The end would do out too, because that could make a nice ocean color a little bit more, you know, in a turquoise sea. Well, so those are the colors, so I'm gonna get my paddles out. I'd like to have probably a couple of each color, and then we're ready to roll. Okay, I got my paddles out, and I added on a little bit of that connected on radio was mentioning earlier, just in case. First things we're gonna do is we're going to with the sky. And by when we went this guy, we're already going to think about the splatter here. So grab a big brush. I like to use this 30 inch round, but whatever you have, and I could certainly also have used one of my wash brushes. I run in water from the side and in here from the other side. And can you see how I'm doing it? Like I'm using this side of my brush And then as I'm getting so I'm making sure get that nice and straight at the bottom there. And then as I'm getting in towards where the splashes would come from the Big rock I'm driving my brush show that I'm getting an uneven edge and I'm holding it so that I can kind of see the shine on the paper. I hope you can see it a little bit so I can see if I'm getting a good shape. There you have it. I think that's pretty darn good. And before anything drives on me, I'm going to just get some of that cobalt blue in and I'm gonna run it in and let the water take it to those dry areas that I created Should be a bit more that cool do. And I'm gonna do the same thing here when I'm applying the cobalt blue, it's gonna kind of do it on the side and lived out my brush. So I get something that can look like splatter here. Like this. Let's see, we like the shape. Yeah, kind of like the shape. Can you see that? A little bit more There. Got in to just a little bit. Dry brushing. And if it, you know, don't like what you see. Go in with a little bit of water and just fix it there. I think that's pretty OK, I like it. I like it. I leave it. That's my standard thing. And you could see a gushing villa because I was, you know, being sloppy. I got some little trips here, and I just kept them out, and I'm not gonna worry about. Of course, that's where the ocean is gonna go in. So now I've already painted part of this platter from this big rock that's gonna give a much bigger splatter than the smaller ones here by painting negatively around it in the sky . So, um, I'm gonna let that try, and in the meantime, we can paint in what we can see of the rocks 4. Painting The Rocks: So for the rocks, I'm gonna use my French art Marine blue and my boots, China. And, um, take some French ultra Marine You want put it over here in the bird Tiana over here. And that gives me a nice dark color. And I think I'm gonna put a little bit of water in the outer edge off the rock here. I'm going to start with a big one. And now I'm gonna do exactly like I did there, dragged from the edge and then dragged down towards you know, the bottom where the water is gonna be splashing out and up on the rock. So I'm leaving some dry spots there. Hope you could see that. And then I'm just gonna go in. See, that's a nice gray color. Put a little bit, but Jenna and here and there. And I like to just have those two colors. Just mix and mingle More nous on the paper. I'm just gonna go in, get the outside of the rock painted without putting my hands in the with sky and do a little darker here and then see if I can catch an edge here. Good luck with the book. she and I am. So can you see how now I'm turning my dad a brush upside down and I'm dragging in and dragging down into this dry area like this. And so it's special. Basically, I'm doing some dry brushing is what I'm doing and I can run into more pigment. I really like what's happening here. So it's really you just got it. Experiment. And don't be afraid. The worst thing that can happen is we mess it up and then we'll just pay for the other side . And I like it A book. I like having a really dark. So that's why I'm loading up down here now that a gushing edges are like and then it just giving my tip off my brush into the rock area because it is gonna spread by itself and create some dark because the rocks gonna be really dark down here because it's gonna be really wet down there right before. So waves splashing over a few more dark markings and there we can already see. That's kind of like the water splashing up on this rock all right, and will do these other rocks. Not gonna go in. You're trying. Do it on dry. See how that works. And good. A nice itch there and here. Maybe there shouldn't water running back up again over it. You know, it's kind of spilling over there. Whatever. You know, just look at the pattern should get. And if you get something good, keep it. So here and then drag my brush down here. Let's see. Yeah, I think that would work. That would truly work. And let's get some more. Pick Madan and get this other walk here in the that. Come into your and see if we can get some water, too. Splash on that thing. You hear a little edge. It's a water splash in. And here check that way. And then here, take some of pigment off. So I'm just really observing what happens here. And I might check a tissue day about just a little bit to get a little bit of light on these rocks. Do that here, too, before it dries completely. Yeah, kind of like that. I have to work on this ship a little bit more, get a little bit more. That dark rock. It's kind of lunch back. Yeah. Water spilling over And it's like always when you do these things, talk to yourself would all help site. Okay, I think I'm pretty happy with what I got here, so I better leave it. So that wasn't too bad. I wanted to show you one other thing. If you happen to have your, um, palette knife or your credit card handy can't find my credit card right now. So I used my talent knife. You could scrape in a couple little, you know, textures in your rocks if you want to. You don't have to. That all depends whatever works for you. But I just wanted to show you that that's an option. So let me hold it up so you can see. So can you see how that already reached, Like, you know, the foam from splashing water, you know, as the waves and the tide comes in. And you know what splashes shop against the rocks? That's what it looks like. 5. Painting The Rocks & Crashing Waves: so everything is dry and now it's time to a run in the ocean. So we're going to do similar to what we did for the sky as far springing in the color and the water around the splatter off the rocks. But before we do that, this is where we're going to use our little A spray bottle and, uh, just testing out the spray so this one will work just fine. And so I'm just gonna do it around the rocks. I don't mind if I get a little something on the rocks themselves. I could just add that out and it doesn't matter. Yeah, so let me try and hold it up and see if you can possibly see when I move it back and forth like this could see those little dots that are sprayed and I'll do the same around this one . And this one goes all the way up here, and it really splatters out here and then down here in the water there, So there, hopefully you can see. And then I'm gonna put water on from the science and this is ocean. So we want to put our water on in horizontal strokes show up here. I can put it on like this, and then I'm running it into those a little droplets I put on. And here I'm running it in two, these platters and also into this splatter here. So there's a lot to think off and you know, if you want it If this is you know and into were complicated for you just to one rock just to kind of get the principle. You know, I don't have to do three rocks. I just kind of wanted to show you. And so again, I'm running it in from this side, and then in here, it's gonna be. And then down here, I'll have the water will begin to come and just a little bit up like that. And let's see what we got. Course. I also need to see you can't tell that easily what I have here. Want to make sure you have a lot here in the corner. So I'm gonna spray and didn't think more. Okay. And non was gonna hope for the best, and we'll see what happens. So get my color for the water when I use this based color off the COBOL blue, And then I'm gonna put some and weapon and a little bit of the French Ultra Marine more and work, and I'm gonna have a little bit off the yellow. Not much. Just a little bit to make it more like an ocean color. You lose a lot. So then what is? Put some more. Oh, so then I had another one over here, Like having different course. There we are, more here and here. So now I have some different blue colors, all kind of pushing the car. So this this stopped down here and get some of that green more green in because you know where the water is churned up and again, you can see I hold it on the side because we still have to remember. This is water and water is flat and showed its crunch Some in here, up on the horizon here and bring it in like this. No, get the horizon line in here. Be more do. And I have to be new. Careful, because, um, I'm gonna run it in, still trying to get some of those for subtle strokes, but at the same time, and you can always use your spray bottle to spray in a little bit more. So this is it's like, really what you have to. You have to concentrate this kind of important here, and let's go in and get a little bit more water spray around here, the edges and down here and just, you know, dabbing him. And here it's kind of going up and again, if I could feel it's to drive dried away, going with my little spray bottle and happy ending war. Make sure you get this horizon mine straight straight as I can. Yeah, and then just step in to those you know. So it's gonna get some places where I have that water spree. And so here we have lots emotion in the ocean. So I want a little bit green around here because you know where there splatter when this other side, and get some split in here and again, Kitchen will still win. Have these truths correspond to each other? I mean, that colored the water that called the water. I don't want to cry out so much down here either. So do you want a kiss here? It's gonna be really splattering up. And here Let's get some more color in here like dark out of the corners and on the edges and get some of that snow speeder splatter. And here from there, it's coming in a slandering around here and here, up into their get some of that wave action going. So you got it. Also kind of think spray and waves and, you know, churning war. And I'm gonna stab in here some areas. Of course, there's also a little you know, these, uh, splatter, um creates shadows inside the splatter. And here again, just any time I get to, you know, hard edges and two straight lines I go in with my little spray bottle and it's a little bit , actually, like painting a wild and crazy clouds after your large similarities when you're painting water. And so I want to get you know, some of that greenish color in here, whether splatters breaking around the rock and then just get something dark. You're in the here, down here. You know, it's great to get some texture on some stuff in and pull I into the painting here, Doc. In it a little bit here, and as long as you do your stroke for a central said that you know many times, but that is really key that, you know, that gives you forgiveness for a lot of things. Let's put it that way. And so let's just get some of this in here and again. Give it a little spray here, forced out those edges and again placed race based. And, you know, if you get too much collar, that's what the tower is for. No to wear day about. If you get carried away. I love what's happening down there. Doesn't that look like a breaking wave? I love it. Let's see if I can create some more that stuff. See how Pushing my brush up against the Rock because I'm thinking about how the water is pushing up against the rock. Have a little bit more in here. I think it's still would enough that I could get away with that in here and then again this spring in a little bit, and we can dab, Yeah, and do you go so sure if I'm not talking so much because you know, I'm just so concentrated on trying to look at what's happening and then reacting to it That's really what it iss and I should have gotten more that. And what? Make sure you don't have, you know, make sure you don't run out of the public silence trying out. Just just saying so. Call a variance here, give it a little spray up here to just to give it a little texture. What? I'm pretty actually pretty happy with what's happening here. Should a little bit darker. And then I sink while I can do it. Just putting in a little bit more water here, and then I don't want it too dark, but I'd like to put some little shadows inside this big spray off water because, you know, it won't be a white. It has all source of textures and shadows and stuff like that. And then I see it dab a little bit. Yeah, What do you think? Can you see how it's coming? It is coming alive. And so what I have this color on That's kind of like a little bit more trick. Where she what? When I'm over the water here, I wanted water Corsi, and then I wanted to show you. I just make sure that my shapes you're a good. So again, Just having a little bit And then there with a spray is overlapping the sky. We want to have not the ocean color but we want to have that Corporal Blue That was great Down a little trying to bed show and not too dark, Obviously blue And we can great down just a tad with a little bit of the bush in a I mean just barely there. And actually, for that I might like to use around rush instead of my dad will see and very water remakes I have here Can you see? And then I'm gonna go in and hit some of those droplets that I have here and get this shadow and the little air, you know, Sky holds, I guess Call him in there. And then down here, it's more green into steps mineral water in and a little bit of that break up. If you have some edges that you don't like here this sister time, you could break them shop. I'm almost Do we breath while I'm doing this? It's really intense, But we're also painting something very intense. This water splashing the ocean crash. We only have it. I think we need a little bit more shadow. I was a little too much there. I think we need a little bit more shadowing here. You're ish. Couple places and again. Don't figure out if you get too dark like See here. I got to back tips, dab it out, and then it's gonna be perfect in here. Damn are a little bit all righty. And, uh, it's Let's see if we could do a little bit more dragging up off a little bit here, too. News splashes up around the bottom off. It's not really the bottom. You know what, What is sticking up from the water off the rock? Just break that up a little bit and there we have it. I think this is pretty good myself. What do you think? Let's take a look. You know, you could also been You could also, when put in a little bit off salt, you know, that also gives some texture. But I like the spray bottle. That's my go to here. Just fixing just a couple of edges. I didn't really like here. Put little green in here now, using before brush just because that's what a That's what I Grant. And here just put in a bit more. And I really am very close to this time where I should just leave the heck along precaution . All this. You don't want overwork it. You want to have that movement. And I really, I'm really feeling I thought that that tweets quite well. So now we're gonna just let it dry, and then we're gonna re evaluates and see there's any little tweaks we need to take care off, and then we can wrap this up. 6. Final Details: Let's take a look. Now that everything you slide, I'm actually quite happy with it. Um, as I told you in the beginning, when we went over our materials, you know, if you had any problem areas you could always use some white paint. But I don't feel that I needed anywhere. And you could also use, um, an Exacto knife if you had some edges and then we just take a look. Flipping for my glasses. Songs weapon. See if there's a some little edges that you want to break up like here. I could break that up a little bit, but again, I am actually quite pleased with how this came out. So, you know, it's one of those things with watercolor and probably painting, said General, Um, if you can't think of anything else to do to it, that usually means that you're done, and I could easily be done with this one. I just, you know, because this I'm teaching you, so I should, you know, take some risks, right? That's my job. And then you can look at and say, Heck, no, I'm not doing that, and that's fine. So what? I was thinking Waas I feel that the ocean is kind of all of the same color all along. And I'm feeling that, you know, I always like to dock in my corners a little bit. So, um, using the college I already have in my painting, I can get a little bit more off that And what may be a little bit more off the French Otto Marine blue. Um, I can go in. And so now I'm just dabbing around in all the partners I have left over here to get a nice , dark color that is still very like the ones I have. And then I think I'm gonna spray in just a little bit here. And then let's see how to turn it up here and I'm going. You could see how I'm just going from the edges and I'm kind of running in some darks, and I'm making sure that I get some uneven. So I'm kind of thinking maybe there's a little bit, you know, all this crashing, and it's running back and stuff. It's almost like it's creating a wave that's, um, turning over on itself. So let's see if we can kind of get some action like that. That would be not a bad idea. Can you see how I'm creating that? They're dupes. And again, if you are a terrifying find out, don't do it. You don't have to do it. I am. Just show you that you could You could do that. So now I'm gonna grab my little spray bottle and just free in a little bit more. Just so I really like that. It she got there that's quite quite effective. And then we could go up here and there might even be a little bit breaking right up here. This this this way. You know, it's coming back, and it's kind of turning over on itself, and, uh, it's casting us just like it's casting a shadow. So let's see here. Yeah, that flush out like that. Okay, I kind of like that. What do you think, guys? No bad. I don't think it's I think this was a good move, so just haven't really dark down here and kind of flush it out. And then let's get a little bit darker over here. There could also be a little. It's just do the same thing. That was a trick Spring in a little bit. And then let's create some little darkness here and again, you know, out on the edges. You don't want to have anything that's too interesting because you don't want your view or to look out here. So just having around and only a little left over bottles here. Dr. Not there. And it that way. Yeah. And you know what issue gotta stop on your head by my round brush here and then Just kind of saw from some ages here. Just, you know, I don't want it again. Wanted to interesting out here. Just a new darkness would be good. Yeah. You know, I'm going to call it a day. You go. She says, And then she keeps my students always make fun of me. They say, Yeah, you say, Call it today and then you keep going. Yeah, I know. Stop. So now I'm just gonna day about here, Just there. I like it. I hope you like a job. I hope you had fun. And I hope you will try this. And I hope you'll posted through the Project Gallery Page. The Project Gallery page. I always stumble on that phrase project gallery. page. That's what you post it. Okay, so I could totally leave it the waiters, But because I am the instructor here. If they said earlier, I should be the one taking risks. So I'm acting Go to take another risk with this and show you what we can do. If we wanted to see this area that I created because of the water being pushed back, so is kind of like a wave that's going backwards. Um, and it's kind of falling over on the water that's going under it. And so we could take our little except a knife and just scrape out and a little bit off phone. Not too much, just a little bit. I just wanted to show you. So I mean, there is a lot of fun to be had with these kinds of paintings. I'm telling you, and there's, you know, more than one way of doing these things. But this is just the way I find, Yeah, how about it? What do you think? Could you see how you know it's a little bit of phone, So enough already, Yeah, this one here and that's it. It's not do anymore, but she hopefulness just too much fun. So happy painting crashing way 7. Class Project Description & Samples: So now that you've watched my demo, you are ready to paint your own ocean spray and crashing waves. And I've attached a little sketch for you, Um, in the project description, in case you need a little help. And, um, here are some samples. This is the painting that I demo for you with the crashing waves and rocks and just follow along with my demo and you will be able to create your own Seascape with crashing waves and rocks. And here's another sample. And here you can see I have done a little bit of a different interpretation with just two rocks. And finally, I wanted to show you a landscape or Seascape. I should call it where I have incorporated this technique in a painting off the picture coastline in California. So I hope you have fun with this project and wish you happy painting 8. Wrap Up : so thank you so much for watching. And you can post on the project page your result off crashing waves so we can all see what you created. And if you would like to follow me on instagram Facebook, um, YouTube, Twitter, you can do so And I hope to see you in another skills here class. And I just wanted to let you know that I'm also teaching online classes at the big O Khanna's website and in her online school. I'm very honored to be a guest instructor on her site. So where you might want to check that out and be a good is a fabulous watercolor artist. So where she has some unbelievable online courses that you might want to check out. So if you have any questions, comments or need more information, just contact me here on this page in the comments section, and I look forward to hearing from you and wish you all happy painting