How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Today I want to share one of my recent obsessions: painting wet sand and beach scenes! There’s something fascinating about it and keeps me really inspired to pick up my brush.

I have a full tutorial up on YouTube that shows you the process step-by-step, but I’ll discuss it here as well.

How to paint wet sand reflections (beach scenes) with watercolor

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Depending on whether you want a bright sunny or a misty stormy day, you’ll first select your color palette. I use color to help guide the mood of the painting. So for my misty scene I chose the following colors:

  • Neutral Tint
  • Anthraquinone Blue
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Phthalo Green
  • Potter’s Pink
  • Yellow Ochre
  • English Venetian Red

I’m using Arches cold pressed paper with a variety of round brush sizes.

Tip: Work in zones!

I worked from back to front (pretty much top to bottom) in this scene. I approached each “zone” separately. Find your zones! In this scene it’s pretty straight forward: sky, rocks, water, beach. This will help because you allow different areas to dry before moving on and your zones don’t bleed into each other.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 1: Get the sky area wet, then turn the paper sideways, and tilt up to a 45 degree angle or more. Drop pigment into the wet sky and let it flow down. Soak up any excess water at the bottom with a paper towel.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 2: Wait for the sky to dry a little, then paint in the distant hills. We don’t want them to bleed into the sky, so test a small area first to ensure that doesn’t happen! However, by doing this when the sky is just slightly wet, it gives the hills a softer edge and will help them appear further away.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 3: Lay in the first layer of rock colors. Keep it more subtle at first – we’ll come back later with another glaze to add more depth.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 4: With a slightly muted blue in the distance (I mixed anthraquinone with neutral tint), paint the horizon of the ocean, and slowly work your way down. If you want to show a wave breaking (the white), carefully paint around those areas letting the paper show through. Add a bit more turquoise as you get closer to the rocks and shore. Typically, we can see through waves more easily, and they appear more colorful.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 5: As you get closer to the shore, begin diluting your pigment with water and start shifting to your sandy colors. The water near the shore is reflective (lighter) and some areas and clear in others (so we can see what’s under it). I love mixing potter’s pink with yellow ochre or english venetian red for my sand, as potter’s pink is very granulating and looks like actual sand on the page!

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 6: Once your water is dry, start adding a second glaze to the rocks for the shadows. I usually use a darker version of the original rock color, with a hint of blue added.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 7: Continue adding shadows (the second glaze) until your rocks have enough definition. I allowed my foreground rocks to be lighter, as though they are reflecting more light.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Step 8: Add the reflection of the rocks in the wet sand with a dry brush technique. I used the same colors as the rocks themselves, and touched a bit of neutral tint to reflect the shadows on the sand. After that, add any other details like cracks in the rocks, seaweed on the shore, or birds!

If you’d like to watch how I did this in real-time, you can watch the video here:

This is a watercolor seascape demonstration painting based on a photo of Surf Beach down near Batemans Bay in New South Wales. When you live in coastal Australia you see lots of beaches like this. Beach scenes are relatively easy to do compared to street scenes and figure work. However they can still be a challenge to beginner watercolor artists.

Reference Photo for watercolor painting

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Required Watercolor Materials

Arches 300gsm Rough Watercolour Paper, quarter sheet (approx. 15” x 11” (38cm x 28cm).

Brushes: Round -Sizes 24 and 16 for larger washes and 12 and 10 for the smaller areas and detail.

Paints: All Winsor and Newton – Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Turquoise, are the main colors.

Other items are backing board, masking tape, old towel to control wetness of your brushes, tissues, etc.

Step One – Drawing

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Do a loose drawing of this scene.

Draw a line across the sheet at eye level (horizon line) and then adjust everything from there. Remember to put the figures heads all on about the same level i.e. just above or below the horizon line.

Make sure you only put in a narrow strip of water as is in the photograph – don’t make the waterline head straight down the page or it may look like the water in your painting is trying to go uphill.

Put very little detail in the distant hill, with more detail as you come forward in your scene.

This is a collection of simple watercolor paintings which help teach a beginner basic watercolor painting techniques. Often the difference between complex or difficult watercolor paintings is just the size of the artwork. The smaller you paint the easier you will find it when you are new to painting with watercolors.

Here are some other points which make a watercolor painting easier to do. Limit the number of watercolor paints used. This means you can concentrate on tones and shapes rather than colors. Also reduce the variety of shapes in your watercolor painting. This makes it easier for you as you don’t have to concentrate so mach on your drawing skills. Nor will you have to try to quickly paint around complex shapes.

All of the above points make a watercolor painting easier to do. Each point allows you to paint quicker. This reduces the chance of your paper drying too fast which is what usually causes beginner watercolor artists the most trouble. Often they are not even aware that this is the root cause of their problems.

I hope you find these simple watercolor paintings useful. They are part of my beginners watercolor guide series.


Simple beach scene

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Painting the sea, clouds, skies, people, birds and sand. Uses wet on wet, wet on dry and dry brush watercolor techniques. This simple watercolor painting uses limited pigments and is quite small. The shapes are kept quite simple as well.

Simple watercolor painting of boats and water

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Small watercolor painting of row boats and simple sail boats. Brush techniques covered are wet on wet, wet on dry, and dry brush. Dry brush is used to paint the sparkle on water.

Easy watercolor painting using salt

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

How to paint an easy watercolor painting using salt to create interesting textures. This is basically an exercise in using salt that was turned into a frame-able painting.

I will be creating more simple watercolor paintings for the beginner. I hope you find the above watercolor demonstrations of use with your own work.

Simple watercolor painting using candle wax

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Using candle wax and broad watercolor washes to produce this simple but effect painting.

Are you looking for the best images of Watercolor Scenes Beginners? Here you are! We collected 35+ Watercolor Scenes Beginners paintings in our online museum of paintings –

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How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

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How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

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How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

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How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

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How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

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How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

While this article on how to paint water relates to how to paint with watercolors specifically most of the information also applies to all other artist’s mediums.

Whole books have been written on this subject so I shall only cover the key points here.

Watercolors are perfect for painting water due to their transparency and natural interaction with water itself. A number of watercolor painting techniques can help you create more realistic water effects. These watercolor techniques include wet on wet, wet on dry and dry brush strokes. These painting techniques apply whether you are creating landscape paintings with rivers and lakes or seascapes of the ocean.

Some of the key things to consider with your watercolor painting of water are:


You have to get the reflections right as they convey one of the key elements of water that make it what it is; it reflects light. Not only does it reflect light from the sun and sky but also anything on water is reflected by it. These reflections are always towards the viewer, which means downwards in your painting. See photo in fig 1 for an example.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

When painting an ocean scene with object floating on it such as boats. Make reflections of objects closer to the foreground larger and with more detail than reflections in the distance. In fact once boats are a long way away it is virtually impossible to see their reflection. See fig 2.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Another important area of reflection is wet sand, where there is a shallow veneer of water just covering the sand. This acts as a very nice mirror, especially when see from a distance so you should treat it as such.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

One last point to do with reflections, which I have covered in another article on this site, is the fact that unlike a real mirror, which reflects images and light very accurately, reflections from water are altered in part by the color of the water itself. If the water has a slight tinge such as green or brown then this will add to the colors being reflected either darkening them if they are light colors (e.g. a white boat) or lightening them (e.g. a black boat or black rocks).


Water is transparent; you can see through it and hence see objects in it. So what does this mean for your watercolour painting? Well when painting a beach scene, it means allowing some of the sand to show as the water gets closer to shore. This is done by lightening and warming up the mix of water and watercolor paint you use for painting the water. You do this by adding more water to the watercolor paint mixture to lighten it and adding a warmer color such as cobalt turquoise to warm it up.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

If you are painting a river scene, the same applies at the edge of the water, where it merges with the bank. The colors you use will different however.


Water flows and you need to try and capture this.

If you are painting a scene with boats in the foreground, make sure you use lots of soft edges in the body of the reflection. This is very easy with watercolor by dropping in reflected details while the body of the reflection shape is still wet. See figure 5 for an example.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

This is your typical wet on wet technique, the under wash of the water is painted first and let to dry thoroughly. Then the initial wash of the reflection is done wet on dry but the additional internal reflections are dropped in wet on wet which give the overall impression of fluidity.

Now when doing a beach scene it is the quick dry brush strokes of the water color over the white watercolor paper (this works best with Rough or Cold Press textured paper) that give the impression of foam on the water and hence the feeling of movement and fluidity. This can be seen in Figure: 4 above.

You can see a number of examples of reflections if you have a look at the seascapes and rivers scenes in my online art gallery. There are many other online art galleries of other watercolor artists’ work you can view which have similar examples of painting water you can study to help you learn to paint water better.

Hopefully the information on how to paint water will help you create some beautiful paintings in the future.

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Author: Joe

Owner and adminstration of the Painting With Watercolors website and forum. I am a professional watercolor artist, though I also use other mediums including pen and ink. I also enjoy playing with computers and the internet so this website is a bit of a hobby of mine. View all posts by Joe

Watercolor painting with nontoxic paints is a beneficial developmental activity for preschoolers. It can get a little messy, but with a large, easy-to-clean work surface and a plastic smock or two, your preschooler will have a fantastic time exploring her creativity while also benefiting from the developmental and learning advantages this activity results in, without a huge cleanup on your hands afterward. You might even discover your child’s inner Rembrandt in the process!

Fine-motor Skills

Watercolor painting involves using a small brush to paint light strokes onto thin paper. The delicacy of watercolor painting, unlike painting with heavier media such as poster board paints, requires a degree of gentleness and precision. Practicing these skills will facilitate and promote a preschooler’s fine-motor skills, which are crucial to her development at this stage. Fine-motor skills are a child’s ability to coordinate small muscle movements, especially in the fingers, making this type of arts and crafts activity developmentally appropriate for a preschool-aged child. From watercolor painting, a preschooler will learn how to coordinate the small movements of her fingers to produce a work of art. This will aid in her long-term ability to write, manipulate tools and objects and perform other small movement-based tasks essential to everyday life.


Paint-by-number watercolor activities promote fine-motor skill development while also facilitating your preschooler’s ability to recognize numbers and colors. Paint-by-number watercolor activity sets come with a small set of watercolor paints, labeled by numbers that correspond to different sections of pictures throughout a booklet or unfinished canvas. The painter’s objective is to use the appropriate color to paint-in specific portions of a picture labeled with a certain number. This task helps preschoolers learn numbers while also promoting pattern-recognition abilities.

Hand-eye Coordination

Watercolor painting requires young children to put paintbrush to paper and create strokes, shapes, letters or numbers, depending on what the child is painting. This promotes a child’s hand-eye coordination, which is her ability to use her eyes to guide her hand movements. As your preschooler paints, she is using her eyes to direct her brush strokes and create the picture, shape or line curvature she has in mind. Reinforcing hand-eye coordination now will help her coordinate larger visual-muscular movements later, including swinging a bat at a baseball, using a computer mouse and driving a vehicle.


Watercolor painting will enable your youngster to develop her creative skills, which are just as important as the other skills this kind of activity promotes and develops. Opportunities for creative thinking reinforces a preschooler’s ability to engage with the world in new and novel ways, which promotes inquiry, reflection and critical-thinking skills 1. So go ahead and let your preschooler paint a purple sun or a blue bunny rabbit — it will only reinforce her cognitive skills and her ability to interpret and respond to the world in meaningful and insightful ways later!

Like the rest of the world, I’ve found myself discombobulated with the recent world news and the reality of “self isolating”. As someone who truly loves being at home, I haven’t found that part to be a struggle. However, I find it’s important for my mental health to have something fun to look forward to each day.

I chose watercolor painting as my ” fun thing”.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

When we were out grabbing our final groceries before self isolation began, I made sure I had basic watercolor supplies in my cart.

Every day for the past 3 days, I’ve sat down at my dining room table and painted something.

It has given me great joy. It’s simple and relaxing – and I figure that the more I practice, the better I’ll get, right?

So if you, too, would like to begin learning watercolor painting, I’ve researched some great resources for beginners. Let’s learn to paint together. Shall we?

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.

Supplies you’ll need:

One of the things I love about watercolor painting is that it doesn’t require a boatload of supplies! You’ll just need these basic things:

  • Watercolor paper (Don’t use just copy paper. It will wrinkle really bad!) – Strathmore Cold Press Paper
  • Watercolor paints – Beginner set (This is what I have), Sukura
  • Brushes- I’ve been using a size 6 | size 1 | This is a great set of assorted sizes
  • Jar of water
  • Paper towel
  • Watercolor sketch templates (see more about that below)

Watercolour Painting Ideas for Beginners: Basic Tutorials to help you get started

As a complete newbie to watercolor painting, I was thrilled to discover so many free tutorials for beginners. Here are 10 that caught my eye.

How to paint a child in a watercolor beach scene

Painting a beach scene is not hard, but where do you begin? Follow these step by step directions and you will have a fantastic painting of your favorite beach in no time!

Sketch in the drawing

Do not worry, the sketch does not have to be involved. You should determine where you want the water to meet the sky and sketch in this horizon line. Next, determine if there will be any boats, islands or land visible in the painting and sketch those in as well.

Paint in the sky and clouds

With white, paint in the entire sky to the horizon. Now with blue, start at the top of the canvas and blend down. This will create a sky that is darker at the top and lighter or fade into white where it reaches the sea. This is a beautiful effect. You will paint right over the reference line you drew in. This is OK because the line was there just for reference.

Let the paint dry before painting clouds if you are using acrylic paint. If you are using oil or watercolor go ahead and start the clouds on the wet canvas. Now with white and maybe a touch of blue and or crimson add first layer of clouds using circular motions. Keep the tops of clouds distinct, but blend the bottoms of them. With circular motions paint in second layer of clouds using white. Keep tops distinct and blend bottoms. Don’t cover up all of your background clouds. Leave interesting pockets.

Paint in the Sand or Beach

Using yellow ochre and or raw sienna and paint in the sand. Do not blend too much. The changes in color variations keep it interesting. You can use a stiff paint brush or toothbrush to flick color onto the sand for effects of small rocks and pebbles. Make the sand color go deeply into where the water will be. You will paint the water color right over the top of it – or at least some of it, but you need it done this way so it looks realistically like a seashore.

Paint in the Water

Starting at the horizon line, add blue to create water. Use very even and horizontal strokes at the horizon. As you come forward, the strokes could be a little uneven for a motion effect. Use blues and greens and maybe even some burnt sienna where you want the water to appear darker. The water gets darker as you come forward. Leave some streaks of white to look like ripples and waves. Add some dark shadows under and to one side of things like boats if there are any in your painting. This will create an effect of cast shadows. If you haven’t already – “pull” the water into the sand using white. Make sure that you keep the strokes horizontal.

Add Land and Cottages

Fill in distant hills with a pale blue green mixture. Darken the mixture and add a few bushes or trees in front of that. There should not be much detail if the land is far away. Add any houses or cottages. They should not be too large. As far as shading, if the light is coming in from the left, the right side of buildings and roofs would be darker because they are in shadow. Detail houses, add some little yellow/orange lights in the windows.

Add birds flying, seagulls, sea or oat grass, people or figures on the beach, and do not forget to sign your painting!