How to paint realistic water with confidence

A comprehensive step by step CLEAR WAVE method of painting the ocean realistically

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Painting water can be frustrating.

If you are here, you probably know that already.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of elusive details of the water without knowing where to even begin? Or what colors to mix?

Ever worked for HOURS on that one special painting only to give up because it keeps getting worse with each brushstroke?

Do your water paintings look like random blue and white blobs just like mine did?

If you're anything like me, you probably felt all those things.

Let me show you this painting I used to be incredibly proud of at the time (2009). So proud that I arranged an exhibition in the hall of the medical university I then attended:

I thought that was the most realistic water EVER!

(My mom still thinks so, as she's proudly displaying it in her living room. I suspect she might be a bit biased, though..)

And here is me at another exhibition, ten years later.

Miami Art Basel 2019:

All I've learned during these last 10 years are neatly packed into a comprehensive step-by-step course on how to paint realistic water to save you some of that time and frustration.

I have no art education.

Everything I'll share with you I have figured out by trial and error. It took many years of observing the ocean for hours every day, painting it at the beach or in the studio, making a thousand mistakes, and finding solutions for most of them.

Eventually, it all made sense.

Although I'm constantly learning something new, I have discovered several things that work for me every single time.

I will walk you through my entire process, from the way I approach the subject of water, my thoughts on how to choose what to paint and what to look for while watching the ocean, the materials I use and how I mix colors, to the very last brush stroke on the final painting.

In this course, we will take photographs at beautiful Laguna Beach, CA, and choose one to use as a photo reference and edit it for painting.

I'll talk about my paint, brushes, and other art materials, along with my approach to color mixing for painting water. You will see my palette as I paint so that you don't have to guess how I got each particular color:

This is not a paint by numbers course.

I am here to help you paint your own water in your own unique style, not just finish one painting.

However, we will finish three paintings together: one of a wave using our Laguna Beach photo reference, one of calm water, loosely based on a video to approximate plain air painting, and one of imaginary water under 3 different light conditions.

Here are the first two paintings we will finish together:

The third painting will be a surprise:)

You can replay these real-time demo videos as many times as you wish. Paint along with me the first time, or watch first and then paint the second time. No rush; practice as much as you need.

At the end of this course, you will have the confidence and mental tools to paint your own realistic water without fear.

This course includes:

  • My CLEAR WAVE approach to painting water. Learn how to look at water as a subject for painting.
  • My entire process of taking and editing photo references.
  • Video demonstration of the paint, brushes, and other art materials I use, and how you can choose tools and supplies for your painting.
  • Detailed video demonstrations on color mixing.
  • Three real-time demos. No time lapses, no skipped parts of the process.
  • About 17 hours of instruction (and counting).
  • The view of my palette as I work. You'll see exactly how I mix those elusive colors of the ocean.
  • My final recommendation on what to do after the course is complete.
  • Bonus 1: 50 photo references for your personal practice.
  • Bonus 2: Q&A videos that I add as we go to respond to your questions.

  • See course curriculum for details:

Course Curriculum

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  Demo 2 - clear water from the video reference
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  My final recommendation
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  Random tips and tricks
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Get started now!

Here is what my students have to say:

This course is for you if:

  • You find painting water frustrating
  • You don't know where to even begin
  • You have been painting water for some time, but after seeing my paintings you think you can learn something from me
  • You tried to paint water, but it just doesn't look real
  • You are looking for a new approach to painting water, because the old one doesn't seem to work anymore
  • You need a dose of inspiration to get back to painting again
  • You need a gift for your artist friend :)

This course is not for you, if:

  • You want an easy paint by numbers tutorial, with exact color recipes and no thought process explanation
  • You are not interested in painting water in the first place
  • You are not prepared to do the work necessary to become good at it
  • Your art is already perfect, all you need is a marketing class
  • You usually get annoyed by Ukrainian accents :)

Other things to consider:

  • I will be improving this course along the way according to your feedback. Maybe adding new bonuses or updates in case I learn some new and better ways of painting. This course will evolve, possibly along with the price. And you will have lifetime access to all that for no additional charge.
  • If I ever create any other courses, demos or open up limited 1-on1 coaching, you will be the first to know.
  • At the end of this course you will have finished at least two seascapes, possibly 52 if you will use every bonus photo reference. Selling even one of them will cover the price of this course! Not to mention that this may be your first step to becoming a full time artist.
  • Investing in yourself is always a good investment!

Satisfaction guarantee

If, for whatever reason, you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me within the first 7 days after enrollment, and I will give you a full refund. No questions asked.
Even if you are simply annoyed with my accent:)

Frequently Asked Questions

My life is so busy right now, I honestly have no time for painting. Can I start later?

The course starts the moment you enroll. But you will have access to it for life! It is completely self-paced - you decide when you start and when you finish. You can work on it each day and finish in 2-3 weeks! (depending from how fast your paint dries between layers). Or you can start later, log in whenever you have the time, and fit it into your busy schedule.

Can't I just learn this all by myself?

You can! It took me over 15 years of hard work with occasional fits of frustration, spending hours watching the ocean every single day for years, but eventually I figured it out. You can do the same, or spend a couple of weeks learning it from this course. It's up to you.

How long do I have access to the course?

As long as you have WiFi :) After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.

Can I still benefit from this class if I paint with acrylics/watercolor/mud and a stick?

Yes! That's the short answer. Even though I will be painting with oils, this is not our main focus. The course is more about understanding water, learning to really see it and translate it into a painting. It is not a "How to use oil paints" class. So you can still learn how to paint water, with the condition that you already know your medium well enough to adapt this information and adjust all the technical details to your materials of choice.

Does the course include personal feedback and critique?

No, I will not be able to work individually with each student. Also I do not critique anyone's work as there's no right or wrong in art. I share what I do and how I do it, and you pick and choose what works for you. In fact, try not to ask permission to create what you create from anyone. Learn what you think you need to know in order to produce your best work, but don't let anyone tell you it's bad. That's their personal preference. Imagine if Picasso listened to his critics. He'd stop painting or paint like everybody else.

Will I learn how to market my work/approach galleries/build my website?
No. This is not an art marketing course.

Will I learn how to get more Instagram followers?

I'll tell you right now: MAKE GOOD ART.

In more details: learn how to paint -> practice -> practice some more -> and more -> share your work -> see the magic unfold all around you! You have to become good at it first.
At least that's my personal experience.

Are there subtitles available in my language?

No, unfortunately there are no subtitles in any language. The course is available in English only.

What if I'm unhappy with the course?

If for whatever reason you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me within the first 7 days after enrollment and I will give you a full refund. No questions asked. Even if you are simply annoyed with my accent:)

Your Instructor

Irina  Cumberland, Ocean-taught artist​
Irina Cumberland, Ocean-taught artist​

Even though now I paint realistic water for a living, relatively proud of my work and selling almost everything I paint, there was a time when I was just as frustrated and overwhelmed with painting the ocean as you may be today.

I was painting 5 seascapes on top of one another and then throwing that very thick canvas away, because I JUST couldn't understand how to make it look like water instead of some solid blobs of blue and white.

Gradually, as I was watching the ocean for hours every single morning, I started to notice certain patterns and principles that I could apply in my paintings to make it look more realistic. It took many years of trial and error, and wasted paint and canvases, to get to where I am today.

Now I would like to help you to understand the main principles of painting realistic water, to give you a head start and save you years of trying to figure it out on your own, so that you can become confident and clear in creating your own "Quit your day job" worthy water paintings and be on your way to living YOUR dream.

Let's Paint-A-Wave together! :)

Get started now!

Check out my Instagram page to see more paintings: