Acrylic Painting Lesson 4: Deep blue sea

The goal of the fourth lesson is to learn how to paint a smooth gradation.

This painting lesson presented another challenge in finding a decent photo to model. The water around here is not as blue as the example in the book. 

My Ocean City sunrise photos had the water broken up by waves. I already did a sunset sky in painting 2 anyway.

I finally settled on a photo of the Bay Bridge taken at Sandy Point State Park. 

Chesapeake Bay BridgeMy photo of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge

I have lived in Maryland my whole life, but this is the first time I've ever tried to represent the iconic Bay Bridge in artwork.

painting: Chesapeake Bay Bridge4 of 50 - Chesapeake Bay Bridge 3/22/2018

Status: Not for sale yet

So my painting is not the deep blue sea. It is the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Biggest Frustration

When I tried to open my old tube of burnt sienna to use on the sand, I realized it was dried up. I need to buy some more because it's important in painting 6. 

Bridge Over Troubled Water

The young observer (age 5) was nice about helping me to set up today. As always, we reviewed the boundaries about my painting space and don't touch my things without asking. She started out mostly obedient but just generally annoying, loudly chanting, "Snap, clap! Snap, clap!!" for no reason. She became too much and started touching my paint tubes when I was struggling over the the sand.

Painting was always a relaxing and meditative activity for me. It is not at all like that now.

Doing this challenge is as much about me learning to find my focus despite an annoying pest as it is about developing my actual painting skills.

I am careful to paint when she is around even though I would much prefer to do it when she isn't. I want to set an example and give her something to imitate. I just worry sometimes that frustration will be what she catches instead of inspiration, but honestly, we would be fighting about the same issues in another way if not that way.

For example, I will never forget trying to garden with her a year or two ago. She had the whole backyard to play in yet she insisted on staying at my side, too close, and I bonked her in the head with my elbow every time I moved my arm. It obviously hurt me more than her -- she has a very hard head!


I could not make the sky a uniform blue, so I decided to not add any additional puffy cloud. They would look cartoon style, as they do in the book example, and that was not my intended style for this one.

I am really happy with the subtle color variations in the water. I think it reflects the sky well.

I am not so happy with the line where land and water meet. I would have added a line of darker brown if I'd had burnt sienna.

I also felt frustrated with my brush while painting the bridge. I should have found a liner brush, but I used a small flat that was handy so I would not have to dig in the closet. It was good for me to let go and not be so detailed.

Overall, I think it turned out nice. The young observer likes it. The painting felt like a failure as I was working on it, so to have it look decent really makes me feel happy.

More to Explore

acrylic painting lessons
acrylic painting supplies
acrylic painting for beginners
March kindergarten

Enjoy this page? Please link to it. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.