Today’s submission comes from artist Ashley of She has painted this underwater ocean scene using acrylic paints. I love how you’ve painted everything at different angles. So often artists paint underwater creatures all side view which looks really stiff and fake. You’ve done beautifully with your perspectives. I like that you’ve faded your water from light at the top to darker as you near the corals.




2Looking at some things we can adjust on this to improve more, first is on the coloring itself. You’ve got bright white on the orcas in the back. Being that far away in the water, their white areas would be quite blue. You really wouldn’t see any straight white. They also wouldn’t be so well defined. All you need to do is glaze the colors you used in your water right over them to tone all of that down.


Next, looking at the humpback whales, you’ve done SO well getting your contrast there, but if we add a bit of blue from the water over some areas of them (especially the areas farthest away from the viewer), you will add a bit more depth, and help to make them feel like they are in the water instead of on top of it. 3


My next tip is for the water itself. It looks like you painted around the subjects. When working in acrylics, when you want a smooth background, like you would for water, paint that background first. Get it perfectly blended and smooth, then use a white charcoal pencil (or tracing and transfer paper if you prefer) to draw your subjects into the water. This will help to keep your work cleaner.


My last tip is on the fish and coral. You’ve got them beautifully drawn in, but they feel a bit rushed or unfinished. One of the biggest things I learned when painting marine life was to slow down and take my time on the fish and coral. I may spend an hour or two on one little piece of coral to get all that detail. What you have here is a perfect base for more detail!

I love LOVE that you’ve got different sizes and angles on your fish, adding to the feel of depth. Remember whatever fish are fartest away, add a bit of your blue background color over them to create even more depth, just like on the whales.