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How To Paint Ocean Waves 3 –
By Cricket Diane C. Phillips

Do you remember standing still at the ocean trying to capture every sound and every nuance of light and color dancing on the waves?

Can you feel the spray that lightly touched your face when you walked in the shallow surf where the waves were bouncing with foam nearby?

Have you thought about the feelings of what you were seeing when the ocean waves pulled into the sand near you and tugged their way back out again?

Are you reminded of the vastness of the ocean as you had looked at the horizon with its light haze and depth of surface color in the sea?

When you remember what it was like at the ocean – can you recall its colors, its feeling, the color of the sky and the ways it changed moment by moment?

These are the things you need to know in order to paint ocean waves and capture the feeling of the scenes you remember. The ideas of time and change are all in you – they are in your memories and you can recall them. Every moment at the sea, there is change – there is motion – there is a feeling, an essence and an idea that is captured in your memories. It isn’t only what you felt at the time, or your thoughts, or what was happening in your life at that time. There is something of the sea and the ocean’s spirit and power that is there too.

Sometimes, when I create – there is nothing but a request to my mind for a memory, a feeling or an essence of a time at the ocean. There is a sunset that comes to my mind with a looming storm beyond the horizon whose clouds are catching the last rays of the sun in brilliant colors against a lavender sky. There is a time when I was afraid to stand on the shore because the power of the waves crashing into the sand were so much greater than me and the winds drove the salty spray of the waves into my skin stinging as it came. But the colors – ooh the colors of that moment drove me to distraction to understand their shades and hues and subtleties. The sand felt different, the sea felt distant, though I stood right beside her, and the sky was filled with unusual textures and colors that I would love to describe in paint.

There are intricacies to painting which are like nothing else because from the mind of the artist directly to the mind of the viewer there is no boundary – no wall – no caption or remark to make. It is a direct route of communication without limitation in an immediate, encompassing sense. The best way to describe this is for you to choose a moment to capture in paint, let go of all your pre-conceived notions of how to go about it, let go and paint it. Make it so. Let the paint describe all of what you saw, all of what you experienced and all of what you felt in that moment. Push all the judgements about how it should be done or how it should look – out of your mind and let the paint be an extension of what you know. Then let someone see it and see what they see. There is nothing you can say that will add to their experience with it. The moment they have seen it, something has passed between your mind and theirs directly. Infinitely, genuinely and honestly – they have been given some part of that experience as you remembered it. If you want words for what they have seen – ask them, but often words fail to accurately describe experiences like this and many people fall back on whether they like it or not and try to get you to talk more about it.

Do you remember the sky, the day you stood at the ocean on a summer day? Can you feel the warmth of the sand under your feet and the clean smell of the gentle breeze that brought the sounds of people drifting on it?

Did you ever walk on the beach at night or wade in the water as the sun was sinking below the horizon? Do you remember the sparkly little foam that you kicked halfway across to the moon as you walked in the cool water with the wet sand tugging under your feet at each step? Can you recall what the sky looked like as the moon and stars lit the sea like thousands of tiny diamonds bobbing up and down with each little crest of a wave?

There are thousands of moments in each day and as we stand in the realm of the ocean’s power – her force is evident in seemingly infinite changes within each of those moments to everything surrounding her. The sky isn’t the same from one moment to the next – the colors fade toward the horizon one moment and some other time – the hue is deeper there. The foam on the sand ebbs and flows with the surf, but the reflections in it are never the same. Wet sand, dry sand are definitely different colors – yet, warm sand is many shades and cold sand seems grey whether it is or not.

Set up a horizon on the surface to paint.
Remember a moment to capture.
Define the sky with colors, swirls, textures, clouds and reflected light.
Play in the paint to achieve effects that describe details to include.
Stop touching it – the moment any part of it looks right.
Don’t fix it. Just do another one and each one will get better.
Enhance waves, shadows, contours and specific elements carefully – because it will change what you already have right.

And, last of all – remember – it is perfect because you did it this way today, this time and in capturing this one moment this way. Let it go and do another one.

Happy Painting!


May 2011 –

CricketDiane’s New Zazzle Store with products that have original cricketdiane artwork on them – ocean, flowers, paintings, photography, surrealism, weird and unusual, ugly mens’ ties, iPad covers and skateboard decks


Also –

The new CricketDiane website where rights to use the ocean paintings and other artwork, writing and Got No Money Guides can be arranged –



Wander by and see them sometime –

Happy painting and creating wonderful things.

– cricketdiane

(added to this post 05-03-11)