Painting a beach scene is not difficult. I start with a very simple sketch. Sometimes I just draw in the horizon line. I always measure this, there’s nothing worse than a sloping horizon! Sketch in a rough drawing of any headland, horizon or landscape. I usually start at the top, working down and then right to left (if you're right handed) painting the sky and clouds, softening and lightening them towards the horizon. Blend in the clouds using a palette knife, keeping the tops where the sun hits, brighter.
You can use a large, long handled, flat brush or like me, a palette knife does the trick. If you’re using a brush, buy a good quality bright, long handled flat brush which is stiff enough for oil painting. For finer detail, a short handled, round brush works well. My brushes last for years because I always clean them thoroughly with turps at the end of a day’s painting and then rub them over a bar of soap and warm water. Treat them with care and they will serve you well. If you are using a palette knife for painting, I prefer a medium size with a fine, rounded edge. Test them out before buying, as they vary so much in weight, springiness and performance.
The horizon line should be a little darker right on the horizon. Blend in this line so that it doesn’t look like you’ve reached the end of the world!
Add emerald green to your blue (I use phthallo blue for my beach paintings, but you could also use ultramarine). Lighten your paint with a little white as you go down your canvas or board, making it quite a light green towards the shore.
Use your palette knife and some thick white paint (Titanium White) to roughen up the surf near the shore. I mix just a little Cadmium Red into the pale green paint that you have just used to make the wet sand. For the dryer sand I mix some Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red and White, perhaps a little of the leftover bluish green for the damp sand. For the dry sand I just use the yellow, red and white, making sure that it is darker nearest you and lighter in the distance.
If there are any sail boats in the distance, put those in now with a thick stroke of white paint using the palette knife or a small rounded brush, depending on the size of the boat. You could add some seagulls using the same method.
Add some people, children, dogs and umbrellas to your beach painting to add life and interest. The most important thing to remember is perspective. Decide on how large the people and umbrellas will be nearest you and make them progressively smaller in the distance. Also have the brightest, strongest colours in the foreground and soften them in the distance. People in the distance need only be a simple shape representing people.
You’ve done well, now it is time to sign your painting.