Create a Beautiful Acrylic Ocean in 5 Easy Steps

Finished Acrylic Ocean Painting

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you just want to add a pop of color to a space and not spend a fortune doing it. This is one of those times. This fun little Acrylic Ocean Painting can be done in any color you like using as many or as few colors as your little heart desires.

Step One: Gather Your Supplies

Okay, first you’re going to gather your supplies. Everything you see here can be purchased at your favorite hobby and craft store, Big Box store or Dollar store. The beauty of Acrylic painting is that it requires very little expense to get started.

Acrylic Painting Supplies


You will need White (I’m using Master’s Touch Titanium White) and at least 3 Colors from Dark to Light. I’m using a Liquitex Basics Permanent Blue, Liquitex Basics Cobalt Blue Hue and Artist’s Loft Turquoise. You can pick whatever brand you like. As you can see I use all the Acrylic Brands I can find on sale. I have never once paid full price for paint. I’m patient and wait for the sales (and the lovely 40% off coupon)

Instead of brushes, we’ll be using knives. You can use a Palette knife or Butter knife or a combination if you wish.

The canvas is just a common cotton canvas. This one is a 9×13, but they come in a variety of sizes. Just pick the one that’s right for you.

I do try to keep the mess to a minimum, so I put newspaper underneath. Yes, I still read the newspaper. It is acrylic, so it does wash off nicely. Just don’t let it dry on your clothes or it’ll never come out.

Don’t forget, what I’m showing you is just a template. You can choose any color combination you like, oranges and reds for a sunset look, purples and blues for twilight, pinks and greens just because. I’m using turquoise at the bottom for water, the medium blue at the top for sky. I think this gives it more of a sunny, beachy day sort of look. You are only limited by your imagination.

Add your other colors however you like, whatever you feel is pleasing.

Step Two: Apply Lines of Acrylic Paint

So now its time to squeeze out your colors. Your darkest color is the horizon line. Place it one-third down from the top for more focus on the water, two-thirds down for more focus on the sky. The rule of thirds says that it looks nicer this way. (I think its more of a suggestion than a rule) You can be a rebel and go straight across the center if you like, I won’t tell.

Less paint
More paint

Now I used a lot of paint on this one. You don’t have to use as much. I wanted to give it a nice, chunky textured feel. But if you wanted to try a smoother one (I’ll try that one next to show you the difference) just add less paint. Remember, it’s your space and you can create it however you wish.

Step Three: Smoosh the Colors

Acrylic Painting with Palette Knife

Okay, now you take the knife of your choice and you are going to smoosh the colors (yes, I believe that is a technical term) Right to left, left to right, add some swirls and waves. Make sure you make one swipe across your darker color all the way across to create a nice horizon line. This is your chance to let out your inner Van Gogh and Gogh crazy. You do you.

The sides can be painted if you like. Therefore, you can leave them partially painted for a looser, more painterly look or you can even paint the sides a solid color like black or one of the blues as well. You can decide as you go.

Palette Knife Effects

As you can see, the butter knife makes some nice wavy textures with the ridges. However, if you don’t want that effect, just lay the knife flat and you will get a smooth look. You get some great effects by combining both.

Also, try not to over mix the colors if you can help it. (I never know when to say enough is enough) You want to keep the integrity of the colors. Keep it painterly, as it is called. The key to Abstract Acrylic Art is not to over do.

Step Four (Optional): Add More Color

Adding More White

I thought I’d add a little more white at the top for poofy clouds (another technical term) and at the bottom so you can get that wave crashing into the beach effect.

Step Five: Let it Dry

Because the paint is so thick, it’s going to take it a while to dry. I would give it a full 24 hours before adding any little details like seagulls or a ship on the horizon, whatever you’re in the mood for. Or you can just leave it the way it is, you’re the boss.

Comparison of More Acrylic paint on left to Less on right

I painted a second one with the exact same tools and exact same colors just less paint, to show you the difference.

As you can see Acrylic Painting is a quick, fun way to change up your decor for very little time and money. The best part is, if you get tired of this color, paint the whole thing white and do it again using a different set of colors.

Now’s the time to hang it up and start on your next one! Thank you for painting along with me. See you soon!


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8 thoughts on “Create a Beautiful Acrylic Ocean in 5 Easy Steps”

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