Watercolor magic: How-to-Paint a killer wave

One of the most satisfying things you could paint are perfect waves.  One of the most satisfying mediums you could paint with is watercolors.  When you mix the two, they become watercolor magic.  Here’s a little step-by-step on how to create your own little heaven.

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Step 1.  Before I start to think about paint, I have to imagine where the wave will live and break.  I begin by applying liquid masking fluid to the paper using a sharp stick.  I want the masking fluid to represent highlights and reflected gleams in the water. 
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Step 2.  Next I soak the watercolor paper with water and apply some sky blue.  I want the sky to really just be wisps of sky and clouds so I apply this loosely.  You can use a blow dryer to dry the paint a little quicker.  A fan also works great because you don’t want the sky to bleed into the ocean layer.
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Step 3.  Next, I use a mix of Ultramarine blue and Cerulean blue on dry paper ( not wet). I like to blend the ocean ripples together as I go.  It is fun to play with the merging of all of the different blues.  They create little ripples in the water and waves.
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Step 4.  Here, I am just continuing to form the shape of the wave, still sticking to the Ultramarine blue and Cerulean blue.  Notice that I keep some the white from the paper to give myself a little extra highlight.
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Step 5.  Now comes time to paint the curl of the wave.  Before adding white water or the spray of the wave, I am adding in some Pale blue to the curl for some shading.  This will help the white water stick out from the sky, which we will paint in the next step. 
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Step 6.  Now I can start to add the white water which I am using a thick white acrylic paint.  The white paint is applied with a cheap hog bristle brush. I like these for such jobs because they fray easy and give off a great effect for water.
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Step 7.  After the fluid masking is removed by rubbing my finger over the masking, I can see where the highlights live on the wave.  Now I can begin to add little gleams of light reflecting off of the wave.  
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Step 8.  Like painting in the reflection in someone’s eye, this is the best part of the painting.  Using my airbrush I can add the wave’s spray to the back of the wave.  In surfer talk, this means the waves are breaking Offshore, which is ideal surfing conditions.
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Final.

So there is a little insight on how watercolors work and how fun it is to manipulate the ranges of this amazing medium.  Thank you for joining me and remember to keep your mind on the creative setting. Life is too short to not paint everyday!

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