Painting large acrylic beach scenes are not without their own set of challenges, but are generally overcome by good planning, periodically standing back from the canvas, and using large brushes to mass in the biggest areas. One of the most challenging hurdles is the fast drying time of acrylic paint. If painting a large sky or beach, it could spell disaster if your paint dries before you have finished. To help prolong the life of acrylic paint consider using a water spray bottle to remoisten. Acrylic paint can form a skin within just a few minutes, and beyond quarter of an hour you may find the paint has hardened up completely.
Littlehampton is the subject of this lesson; a quaint seaside town in the English county of Sussex. The beach is home to rare flora and fauna, and nearby is a Napoleonic fort dating to 1854, used to defend the coastal town against attack.
The artist Cameron Weller (a professional artist since 1991) is well versed in a number of painting techniques and mediums, favouring landscape and marine painting.
This demonstration shows the development of a very large painting (1.5m x .75m) using acrylics on canvas. The commission required an afternoon scene of Littlehampton Beach, looking West along the beach towards the harbour entrance. The substantial canvas was made for me by Angmering Framing and the first job was to prime it with four coats of gesso primer. The general composition was discussed with the client, who fortunately gave me plenty of scope for the final detail. The original idea of a sunset was dropped because the resulting silhouettes in the foreground would lack colour and because the sun sets well inland - not conveniently over the sea!
Picture 1, The horizon line was established and a bold sky painted.
Picture 2, Next the distant blue/grey trees etc., are put in followed by the sand dunes of West Beach and the
initial painting of the sea. A band of light is suggested on the sea, where it meets the sky.
Picture 3, The Coastguard building and Lighthouse are added together with the breakwater.
The sea is made more interesting with the addition of some small waves and the underpainting for the beach is put in.
Picture 4, Now the groynes can be added and some more work carried out on the foreground.
Note the perspective - the viewing point is slightly higher than a standing adult - to allow more of the sea
and beach to be visible and to avoid all the groynes overlapping.
Picture 5, Some sailing dinghies are now added, including one on the beach to add some colour and interest
in the middle distance. More detail and texture is added to the groynes. The picture is now ready for the focal point
to be placed and you will notice the immediate impact of adding a colourful dinghy in the foreground - see pic 6.
The completed picture, acrylic on canvas 1.5m x .75m, commissioned by Mr W. Donaldson. This was a very enjoyable painting to work on even though the blank canvas was a little intimidating initially!