I was procrastinating today and thinking what I really wanted to paint. Then I remembered how I enjoyed the clifftop painting of a couple of days ago and thought 'Yes! A seascape!'.
This was an absolute joy to paint and came out even better than I'd hoped. Seascapes can be tricky. The subtle tones of the water leave you one chance and one chance only to put in the delicate shapes of the water and foam. Not to mention remembering to leave white where white should be. Some people use masking fluid or go back in with white gouache to add spray but, to me, both of those detract from the clean effect of pure watercolor.
As usual some intermediate shots :
I put in a rough drawing just to indicate where the main lines of the rocks should go. No heavy pencil lines here as they detract from the water. Good so far. I softened the sky and the background sea around the main spray area leaving things pretty loose.
I decided to do the rocks in two steps. First an underwash to state the main shapes and put in some varied color. The darks would go in later to give them some form. So far so good - the paint was granulating nicely on the paper giving some good texture and visual interest.
Next I wanted to just put in an indication of where the dark blues were in the waves. Had to be careful here not to overdo the color otherwise you lose the fluidity of the water and it becomes solid. Still going ok!
Next step was putting the darks in the rocks. I kept things crisper in the middle of the painting and also softened edges away from the shadow edges. Still going ok.
However, all this was the easy bit. The real challenge comes next. To finish off the water I needed to darken up the dense part of the waves just enough to suggest water volume but not so much that they start competing with the rocks for solidity. After that is an even more subtle step where I have to suggest structure in the white frothy areas with almost no color at all. Both of these steps need a confident yet really light touch of the brush. The brush barely touches the paper but skims across the surface leaving speckles of color. And hardest of all you have to know when to stop - this can get addictive and there's always a little voice saying 'I'll just do this'. Was I up to it?
Well yes!! Nothing is ever pefect but I managed to do just enough and he came out handsomely. Sometimes all the frustration is worth it.