How to Paint Choppy Water in Acrylic

Peter John Reid
Duration:   21  mins

Water can take many different forms—ocean waves, calm ponds, rushing rivers, and more. Each form has a unique set of characteristics, and in this video artist and instructor Peter John Reid teaches you how to observe and paint choppy water. The energy and movement of choppy water can look like visual chaos at first glance, but Peter reveals the underlying patterns, and then shows you step-by-step how to apply this knowledge in your work to create water with energy, movement, and realism. Reid is painting in acrylics, but the principles apply to any medium you may choose to work in.

First, you’ll observe how the big, broad color gradations in the water create continuity that supports and gives unity to the smaller, more broken brushwork on top. Then, watch as Peter demonstrates how to add beautiful ripples that mimic the color shifts and rhythmic feel of choppy water in motion. You’ll learn to achieve the look of movement in surface water using rounded, elongated brush strokes and compound forms. In addition, see how Peter uses a Stay-Wet palette to keep his liquid acrylic paints workable throughout the painting session.

Supply List & Reference Image