Ocean Studies: #5 and #6 acrylic paintings

I’m working to further develop technical fundamentals of painting seascapes that has lead me to read a book written about the process that  seascape American painter, Roger W. Curtis (now deceased) used to create his incredible paintings.  95% of the book shows Curtis’ work in black and white, it’s his thought process that he used for design elements, composition, color, rocks, the sea and techniques that is probably one of the best books I’ve read on the subject.  While I may study Curtis’ work, my tendency is to let my own brush strokes develop lines and patterns within waves and surf rather than copy what I studied.

The following two studies are based on my initial readings and are my loose interpretations of two of Curtis’ works –  click onto the images for a larger view.

Ocean Study #5:  Sunrise, an acrylic painting was done concentrating on misty early morning hours when pink and purple hues dominate the sky and water.  I was attracted to the scene for its soft morning atmosphere when the colors are the quietest and subtle.

Ocean Study 4

Ocean Study #6:  Storm Turbulence, an acrylic painting was done as a prelude to larger scenes where the water is stirred and has created a certain drama as the sea races ashore.  Curtis’ scene was in black and white, a quiet sky and much different lines elements in the water – my interpretation created a cloud-filled sky, and I let the lines and sea-foam patterns from the pounding wave/surf patterns develop from various brush strokes.


About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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70 Responses to Ocean Studies: #5 and #6 acrylic paintings

  1. Both are really stunning. Marvellous waves in the second one. I love the pink and purple mixture in the first one. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Sylvia – such different scenes right? Maybe that’s why I love painting the water – always changing, always fascinating in character and strength.

  2. The waves are so natural…and inviting…I can feel their energy! Beautiful, Mary!

  3. elisa ruland says:

    Funny, I’ve been lamenting the fact that we live so far from the sea. Thank you for giving me my fix today. These are lovely!

  4. violetski says:

    This is so beautiful Mary!
    Movement , colors ….all are amazing❤️❤️❤️

  5. Gallivanta says:

    Isn’t it wonderful that whether the sea is lit by sunrise or by stormy skies, it’s still beautiful. It’s a treasure trove of possibilities for your brush and paints. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi Gallivanta, you are so right. No matter the temperament of the day, the sea in my opinion is incredible from a tranquil environment straight through to the magic of drama – always there feeding our senses. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment.

  6. dsaquarelles says:

    it is magnificent! a beautiful contrast between #5 &the #6. In the #6 the wave is splendid, can be that a simpler sky would emphasize the wave even more ?

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Dsaquarelles I really enjoyed your artistic eye and analysis. Could very well be and something that I’ll be checking myself on the next time I work on a macro wave scene. Thanks for your feedback!!

  7. ventisqueras says:

    very beautiful painting! thak so much

  8. I love the movement and use of colour….Janet:)

  9. Simla Barki says:

    Beautiful. You create the movement of the waves so perfectly, I feel like I’m there and bobbing in the waves.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Simla. I really like the perspective of viewing scene like these – of being in a low position that almost feels as though you are at the water level. Gives a very cool feeling of being part of the action. Thanks again ~

  10. ladyfi says:

    Love the soft colours!

  11. Marick says:

    Brrrr, the first one reminds me too much of dead winter 😦 But the second one is just great!! Love that powerful, crashing wave, and the stark contrast of the water. 🙂 You’re really coming along with the acrylics!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Pauline, I’ve had a good time painting with acrylics and feeling my way through the technicals and discovering neat techniques for painting with this medium.

  12. Both of these are wonderful! They look beautiful and realistic. Keep up the great work.

  13. Ogee says:

    His inspiration…your eye and brush. A perfect combination. Bravo!

  14. Nice work here Mary! Sounds like you have found a great book and you are having a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing these. ~Rita

  15. Nicodemas says:

    O I love the colors here Mary! These are very beautiful. I still say your work is alot like the Impressionists. Wonderful.

  16. cmartzloff says:

    Hi Mary, these are spectacular. I really like the second one in particular. I can feel the strength of the wave as well as a contrasting softness in what I call the “foamy” part. The entire painting in my view has a sophisticated balance in contrasts which is masterful. Well done!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Catherine, thanks so much. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the work with your artistic eye, especially about the contrasts – they are what attracted me to the scene. Maybe without the contrasts we wouldn’t be able to see the drama created by the turbulence because the values would be too close to each other. Thank you for generous feedback.

  17. Your works clearly show how deeply you think of the subject. When creativity and talent meet knowledge, the result is mind-blowing… Excellent work, Mary… 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Maniparna for your generous thoughts and feedback – glad you enjoyed the pieces. The journey with these two pieces were great experimentation’s for mixing color and brush stroke.

  18. Great job, Mary! Okay, has anyone else seen a man’s face in the middle of the Storm Turbulence piece?

  19. Excellent work, my dear Mary! So happy [and so obvious too!] you’re having a great time with acrylics! 🙂

  20. So different from each other, Mary. Glad you found a book you like as a guide…I know you’ll put your own stamp on your art, though.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Geralyn – you are right and I really appreciate it. Roger Curtis’ explanation of the whole painting process, from materials straight through design, materials and finally the completed paintings is an amazing resource. I purchased the book three or four years ago when I first started painting with oil pastels and really didn’t pay much attention to it – you could say Curtis was waiting in the wings for me to find him. My creativity will most definitely take over, as in several of my earlier scenes – Mary’s stamp (wonder what it will ultimately be?). Thanks for your encouragement.

  21. Resa says:

    Pretty great, Mary! Wow, these studies excite me, because I know you’ll take it all somewhere!

    • Mary says:

      So cool Resa, thanks very much. I appreciate your excitement and encouragement – we’ll see I have several complex scenes that I’m hoping to do, but most likely down the road.

  22. Surf’s up. Hang ten !

    • Mary says:

      Very cool Carl – thank you! Awesome reaction. I have several surfing scenes that I think you’ll appreciate it, but they’ll wait before I tackle them.

  23. Amy says:

    You can see the changing of the colors of the first painting. The lines and sea-foam patterns … of the second one is remarkable; you can almost hear the pounding. Beautifully done, Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Amy, awesome that you are into reading the paintings and seeing the changes I was trying to convey – very cool!! Thank you for your feedback – much appreciated!

  24. WOW! Gorgeous work! Are you still using old worn out brushes??? Man. Totally amazed by what you’re doing here, Mary. (I realize that I say that pretty much every time….)

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Laura for your generous and enthusiastic reaction to these paintings. Yes, I’m still painting with the old brushes that have been beat up from all the underpaintings done for the oil pastel paintings. I do have some moderately priced ones on the way, but I don’t totally want to abandon these either. Thanks very much!

  25. Don says:

    They are so good, Mary. You have a remarkable way of capturing the wave and the swell with their movement and energy. Really like it.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Don for your generous comments on the scenes. Crazy as it sounds I do feel the sea / waves as I paint them, the drag and pull, and I’ve been hoping to portray the motion as they make their way closer to the shore. Thank you, I appreciate your artistic eye.

  26. Susan Feniak says:

    Fantastic! Mary you have caught the morning light superbly. The storm surge is ominous.

  27. Now you’ve got me confused, Mary (which is not very difficult to do!)….I thought the painting prompted by Winslow Homer was Ocean study #4. Anyway, I’m very excited about what you’re doing these days with the acrylics. I especially enjoy your Storm Turbulence—in the painting, of course, not in you!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Cynthia – love it! You are right Winslow was #4 and then on the actual title of the painting I left “Ocean Study #4” off – I think I’ll go in and make a few changes to image title and these two so things sinc up. I can’t tell you how liberating it has been to pick up a brush and just have a go – not really knowing how quickly I could catch on to the medium and develop seascapes. I think I was ready and now time will tell how well I’ll be able to keep the technicals developing along with the painterly feel that mimics the swift energy of moving water. This has been a great experience and break from oil pastels. Thanks my friend – I’m going back to fix some titling and numbering.

  28. Arts & Rhymes says:


  29. Rebecca says:

    Love these seascapes Mary – what are you using for board/canvass? I tried mountboard but found that it was so absorbent that the acrylics dried super-fast so I couldn’t blend or smear the colours about at all…guess that was probably a very newbie mistake!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks very much Rebecca and very nice to meet you. The hardboard is from home depot. For both of these paintings I sanded the shinier side and then applied gesso to seal the boards, the prior Ocean Study paintings I sanded the boards but didn’t gesso to keep the mood of the scene (but did gesso the sides and back). You are so right, I find the acrylics dry super fast, so I’ve been adding a little water to the palette (I don’t want to dilute the paint too much) and that kept them opened a bit more. I’ve ordered a retardant medium (hasn’t arrived yet) that is suppose to keep them open as well. For me at this point I’m learning every step of the way. Thank you for your comment.

      • Rebecca says:

        Great to meet you too 🙂 . Thank you for sharing the board info and your treatment of it; hardboard’s nice and cheap (and big) so I’m pretty sure I’ll be trying to get my hands on some to have a go. I’m really looking forward to seeing your pictures as you continue your journey!

  30. RMW says:

    It’s good to have an example as a starting point then let your own imagination take off.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks very much RMW and in these paintings that’s exactly what happened – the brush kind of took me where it wanted to go naturally. Because the example was in B&W I had the fun of creating my own color scheme and storm structure shown in the sky and turbulent sea. It’s been a great exercise ~

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