Painting ocean waves in oil can be a challenging experience but ultimately satisfying if you want to capture the beauty of the sea. The ocean has constant movement whether it is crashing waves, rolling breakers or a flat calm. All this variety that can be found at the ocean is what makes it challenging to paint a seascape.

I continue to work on the oil painting of an ocean wave as it crashes on the rocks along the Rhode Island coastline. It takes many hours to paint the details in an ocean wave. Below the image shows a closeup view of the incoming wave near the top of the canvas. I will be adding more layers of paint as I add more of the foam trails and spray from the breaking ocean wave.

closeup of unfinished ocean wave oil painting by artist PJ Cook

Closeup of unfinished ocean wave oil painting by artist PJ Cook.

Colors for Painting Ocean Waves

My base color for the wave is cerulean blue. I grey down the tube color with burnt sienna and add ultramarine blue if I want to darken the value. Burnt sienna is a brown but it has a orange cast that makes it a good complement to the blues used when painting ocean waves. Orange is directly opposite on the color wheel to blue therefore it is great for toning down the intensity of blue colors. Just be sure to add less burnt sienna than the amount of blue oil paint that you are mixing otherwise you can get a muddy color. I usually use cerulean, cobalt or ultramarine blues for painting ocean waves. Check back to see how this seascape of breaking ocean waves progresses.