Painting Seascapes – Ocean Art

Be inspired by the ocean and beach scapes - learn how to paint with acrylics on canvas to capture the light and moods of the sea. Travel with your class to the coast to sketch in the open air, then return to the classroom to paint..

Learn how to use acrylics to portray the energy and forms of the ocean, and the way the light changes through and on the different parts of the waves. Paint the beachscape and create simple boat forms with all their curves and angles.

Work with brushwork, different brushes, as well as a little palette knife play. Head out to the coast to complete small thumbnail sketches of subjects, then work on colour swatches (mixing colour) and build painted works from these.


Course Info

Day One: Pen & Wash Seascape

Easing into our series of workshops with some work that bridges both drawing and painting with some pen and wash work, creating some nice loose, expressive drawings in pen and ink, laying in areas of shadow and then adding some pops of colour to emphasise focal points in our seascape.  A great way to start our course and loosen up.

Day Two: Boats

Following a simple formula to help create simple boat shapes,  to provide angles and curves that boats possess, our workshop day will start with some exercises around this formula and then creating a series of small thumbnail sketches to get our “eye in” for the painted work to be completed, as well as some colour analysis and completing colour swatches.  This process helps us understand and become familiar with our subject, so when the time comes to paint on a canvas, it can be a little less confronting as we are already familiar with our subject, our light and shade areas, and the colour mixing required for the painting.

Day Three: Beachscapes

Again we will start the day with a series of quick thumbnail sketches and colour swatches before commencing on a canvas.   We will be looking at how to put a more panoramic seascape image together – looking at skies, marks needed to make waves and ocean swells look authentic, how the light affects the colour of the ocean, also having a look at textures of sand and different vegetation and grasses that form part of the dune environment.

Day Four: Making Waves

Spending a day painting a couple of different types of waves.  What are waves?  Focusing on how the light affects the colours of the waves – where the wave is breaking, and as the wave moves through deeper water, foam trails, and spray and how to create that loose flowing appearance of the ocean.

Day Five: Stormy Seas

This will be a day of looking at the ocean when it is wild and angry, how the colour and form of the waves become very different, and it becomes a scary place.   The ocean is a place of great and constant change, and this course will be about understanding and capturing the different scenarios the ocean will present to us.



Before starting our painting, we will go through the thumbnail sketching process and create colour swatches.   This hopefully will become part of participants’ art practice, especially if they are nervous about starting a canvas.

If time permits, we will go back over the week and reflect on the different work completed, or if incomplete, work towards completing any unfinished work.  Also, a small group discussion at the end of each day, looking back over the activities of the day.

No prior experience required

To be supplied by participant
Acrylic paint: essential colours
  • Alizarin crimson
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Pthalo Blue
  • Black and white
If you are unsure of what brushes to get  – No. 6 Synthetic round, a 1-1/2 inch flat, No. 20 Hogs’ bristle, and/or a large synthetic or hogs’ bristle flat (3 inches) OR  Officeworks sells a $22 kit of synthetic bristle brushes that are great value, and have a great assortment of brushes that will be useful.
  • Rags
  • Water container
  • Graphite pencil – 4B – 6B
  • Black biros, and a couple of fine felt tip markers.
  • A3 size canvas paper pad.
  • 5 stretch canvasses at least  50 cm x 70cm or loose canvas off the roll of the same dimensions.
  • Drawing board to tape canvas or canvas paper on to.
  • Masking tape.
Pre-order art supplies
Some materials can be purchased locally. Contact Gail Cardow from Island Art Shop & Studio on 02 66556822 to place your order before the Camp. Gail also delivers each day of the camp. You can also email Gail at or via her Facebook page.
Lizzie Connor
Course Tutor

Lizzie Connor

Lizzie has a BA in Fine Arts and is a professional artist of over thirty years. An experienced art teacher, she runs courses and workshops in painting and drawing from her home studio on the Sunshine Coast and galleries across South East QLD. She regularly runs painting retreats in the Greek Islands and Fiji. She is a current member of the Australian Society of Marine Artists and Royal Queensland Art Society.