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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > Aug-17 > How to paint realistic seacapes in acrylics

How to paint realistic seacapes in acrylics

Jo Quigley reveals her systematic approach to painting realistic seascapes in acrylic
Ocean View, acrylic on canvas, 351⁄2x351⁄2in (90x90cm)

Whilst other subjects may go in and out of favour, seascapes have remained a firm favourite among artists and art collectors alike. From dark and stormy to turquoise and tranquil, the ever-changing nature of the sea offers endless opportunities for the artist. Although it may be relatively easy to capture an impression of the sea, hence its popularity as a subject for the beginner, realistic seascapes can be quite a challenge. However, with a systematic approach and some patience, the results can be well worth the effort. To make this a little easier it is worth taking into account the following points.

Finding your source material

Whether you prefer to work impressionistically or realistically, observation is key and relying on sources that are not your own can only get you so far. As with all subjects, it is far better to work from personal experience. It is only by spending time looking that you begin to understand how waves move, create patterns and are affected by objects in their path. Some artists believe that painting from memory and imagination is the best way to capture the ephemeral nature of the sea. However, for the realist painter the memory can be unreliable when it comes to painting specific details and having some reference is essential, be that in the form of sketches, notes, or photographs.

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About The Artist

Watercolourists will love award-winning featured artist Janet Kenyon's city scenes and learning more about her approach and working methods, whilst practical watercolour articles include Paul Riley's focus on the importance of the negative shapes within your paintings and Paul Talbot-Greaves' inspirational demonstration showing how to place the warm and cool colours for best effect in your landscape compositions. Paul also sets you this month's painting challenge. More watercolour articles by Judi Whitton show you new ways to capture the effect of summer foliage, while Barry Herniman reveals the contents of his plein air sketching kit and demonstrates a bright summer scene featuring woods and water. Jo Quigley shows how a systematic approach can help to achieve a realistic seascape in acrylics, Haidee-Jo Summers explains how to exploit shape and suggestion in your oil paintings to maintain a painterly style, Martin Kinnear demystifies perspective, and we welcome back Aine Divine who provides an infectious account of how to complete a mixed media flower painting that you'll definitely want to try for yourself! Ian Cryer suggests that a break with old habits can open the way to refresh your painting style, Phil Tyler encourages you to explore the art of the self-portrait, Liz Seward shares her love of working with watercolour pencils, and David Questa shares his love of busy urban scenes that will see you reaching for your drawing materials. All this and more to keep you inspired and full of new drawing and painting ideas over the summer months!