Q&A: Emerald sea
Ken Harris, England
With the light, the most important thing you should have in mind is that the water reflects the light much like a mirror. So it doesn’t matter if the sea is green or not, it will reflect at least partially any surrounding colour (normally the sky’s colour, the sun or the moon, along with any floating object). Furthermore , light passes through water, so the highlights aren’t always on the surface.
Apply all that together and you will be able to paint realistic oceans of any colour.
The only way for the sea to not look flat is for it to feature waves. And the key to painting waves is to understand their shape and how the light affects them.
First, let’s pay some attention to its shape. The ocean is just one big, homogeneous surface, so all the waves are connected. Think of your sea and its waves as a mountain range: there are mountains and there are valleys, and all of them are connected to each other.
The movement of correctly depicted waves and reflected light will bring to seascape to life.