Fun and easy way to paint an abstract seascape painting

I have a fun and easy way, to paint an abstract seascape painting, utilizing something we use in our everyday lives.


Keycard or credit card to shape the waves.

I am using 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper, any watercolor paper should work fine. Paints used:

  1. Titanium White
  2. Naples Yellow
  3. Cobalt Blue
  4. Alizarin Red
  5. Phthalo Blue



2” skipper brush, Skipper brushes are extremely firm made from ox hair bristle, love this brush, or any large brush that can hold a lot of paint and is firm will work.



Wet the lower ¾ of the page with water. Then lay in a heavy mixture of Alizarin Red, Phthalo and Cobalt Blue.



Scrape with keycard multiple times in horizontal directions, flipping wrist to get wave shapes.



Progress so far.



Lay-in some White pigment along random waves.



Scrape with keycard, flipping wrist to get wave shapes, using existing waves as a guideline.



Progress so far.



Apply heavy coat of Naples Yellow.



Filling in the top 1/3 of painting, the sky area, slightly mixing the pigment at the horizon line to add interest and soften the horizon.



Add Naples Yellow highlights to a few waves.



Scrape with keycard, flipping wrist to get wave shapes, mixing the yellow in to the existing waves.



Finished painting.







Workshop with Santa Barbara Artist Ruth Ellen Hoag

I had the great pleasure to attend a three-day workshop with Santa Barbara Artist Ruth Ellen Hoag, focusing on “Simplicity & Complexity, the structure of a painting”.

On Day 1

Day 1 Ruth Ellen Hoag workshop
Day 1 Ruth Ellen Hoag workshop

We began the workshop with blind or automatic writing, the technic of focusing on your reference material, in my case, a photo of a Golden Retriever and two children playing in the surf.

We were not aloud to watch our drawing hand as we created an outline for the painting. The result was very crude drawing; amazingly, I think it had more feeling and motion then the photo. After it was finished, we could make slight modifications like combining lines.

After practice a few times on drawing paper, I committed it to watercolor paper and began painting.

Painting Day 1

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Day 1 Painting Ruth Ellen Hoag workshop

Day 2

Started with a lecture on simplicity & complexity, Ruth used slides of currant modernist, and abstract artist, several of the paintings I found mesmerizing, many were too complex or colorful for me.

It was intriguing to watch the other students in the workshop reacting differently to each slide, some liking more colorful pieces, while others liked the more angler paintings.

After the lecture, we created a second drawing using the same technic as the day before with the exception we could peek and make miner corrections. I choice a coastal photo using fresh technics for the rocks and utilizing a new Hoag pallet incorporating many opaque watercolors, using American Journey paints almost exclusively.


Painting day 2

Day 2 painting Ruth Ellen Hoag
Day 2 painting Ruth Ellen Hoag

Day 3

We started day 3 with a lecture on structure and line usage in our work. Then returning to our workstations and created our second semi blind drawing, and going for a more abstract look.

I had purchased some new filbert brushes recommend by Ruth for the class. I love these brushes, they retain an enormous amount of pigment the versatile is also amazing.

I got a chance to stretch my mind, and loved every minute of the last day, especially after having a panic attack in the middle of day 2 over what to paint.

I focused on semi abstract seascape using more color, and line then I usually feel comfortable using and ended up loving it.


Painting Day 3

Day 3 Painting Ruth Ellen Hoag
Day 3 Painting Ruth Ellen Hoag

I would highly recommend to anyone to take this workshop from Ruth Ellen Hoag, she is an amazing instructor.

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Nehalem Bay Painting Trip, 2016


Day one: I Had to wait to check in to my Yurt, I went to the bayside of Nehalem Bay State Park and spent a couple hours on a blistery day painting from my car tailgate. My first landscape of the trip was looking east across to Fishery Point, with city of Wheeler in background.

Painting #1 Plein Air
“Fishery Point”
140lb paper


Checked in to my yurt, roomy inside, even had a heater.


Photograph of a beach trail just after sunset looking west toward Manzanita beach, finished painting in the yurt.


Painting #2 Plein Air
“Just After Sunset”
140lb paper


The yurt has a small table that makes a great workspace.


On day two: I painted along Manzanita Beach, my first painting was facing the surf, observing the waves and making a quick study. It took no longer twenty minutes tops. I usually take 2-3 hours on each painting, I wanted to get on to the next painting I have painted over and over.

Painting #3 Plein Air
“Surf Study 01”
140lb paper


For The second painting of the day, I faced north toward Neahkahnie Mountain. I decided to fallow the advice of Randal David Tipton he shared with a small group of painters at Luscher Farm. Randal said he focus in on a smaller area of a landscape, rather then to try and paint the whole scene. So with that in mind, I decided to focus in on a small group of cabins, swallowed up by an evergreen forest, were Neahkahnie Mountain meets the sea.


Painting #4 Plein Air
“Beach Houses in Evergreen Forest”
140lb paper


I eat dinner at the Blackbird Eatery in Manzanita, it was one of the best Sea Bass dishes I have tasted.
Ingredients: Locally sourced Black Sea Bass, corona beans, parmesan & thyme broth, curly kale, lemon crème fraiche.


On my last day, I found a well-protected spot, tucked into a large snarl of old-growth driftwood.

In the Lewis and Clark journals, they speak of huge driftwood piles on the lower Columbia River that were so massive, they had to make camp on the logs, because there was no way to shore.


It was as if I stepped back in time a couple hundred of years, sitting there undisturbed for hours.


I settled in, and chose the view to the north up bay, the so called star of the painting was a old-growth snag resting on the beach. I should have paid closer attention to this painting, I can’t wait to do it in a larger format and use neutral colors similar to the photograph.


Painting#5 Plein Air
140lb paper


I did not see another living sole, it was fair weather, listening to the sounds of light waves lapping on the sand beach, Sea gulls, noisily squawking over their latest treasure. Small birds poking around in little packs, searching for snacks in the riprap. One would chirp finding something and the rest of the pack would run ever chirping.


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