Miniature Sea Paintings

I recently purchased this new duvet cover from Pottery Barn.  I love butterflies!

But the picture over my bed doesn’t really go with my room anymore so I want to paint something to replace it. I bought a large 30″ x 40″ blank canvas, but I wasn’t brave enough to take my brushes to it right off.

These pale colors are calm and peaceful to me.  I get this same feeling when I see paintings of the ocean.

I used these miniature canvases to practice painting my own ocean scenes before I tackle the big one.

I mixed up some acrylic paint to match the colors of the duvet.

The first canvas was really simple, just three strips of color.

For the second one, I tried to paint a more interesting shoreline and add more color into the sky.

Neither one of these were really what I was aiming for so I added some gel medium into the mix.  The medium thickens the paint and creates texture.

I began by painting the entire surface with medium…

Using the palette knife, I blocked in the shore.


And then continued with the sea, some tree-like shapes, and sky.

Added some white with the edge of the palette knife for waves…

Looking through my art book on William Turner,  I found this ship and used it as a guide to add a tiny one onto my canvas…


For the final sample, I tried to paint an ocean sunset.  I smeared on the color with the palette knife just like the last one. I really love the texture of the gel medium!

Then I scraped some paint off of the sky with the palette knife. Just a few small places near the base of the sky.

To demonstrate that I’m a self-taught artist once again, I used a Q-tip to rub some yellow into the areas that were scraped away.

These were fun to paint and now I have a much better idea of what I want to do on my large canvas.

Here are the first two without gel medium…


And here are the two with the medium mixed in…

I’ll show you which one I decided to use for my large canvas soon.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!



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  1. They’re all beautiful and very calming Scarlett!!! Can’t wait to see your large canvas!!! ~Sophia

  2. Melanie Keel

    I love them all, but I see what you mean about the gel, it add’s an aged old world feeling to it. I really love the one also without the gel medium with the larger shoreline, beautiful work, loved watching the process. Love you, Aunt Mel!!

  3. I love the ocean ~
    These are gorgeous, I love the process you shared! I use to paint-this makes me want to try again! Beautiful-thanks for sharing! 😀

  4. I admire your talents so much! These are beautiful.

    • Thanks so much, Renee! Just fyi I’m still not seeing your blog when I click over. I still miss seeing your work! 🙁

  5. these are so beautiful.. you are such an artist!

  6. Sue Costa

    Very cool! I love the chunky gel medium ones! And your photography of your dear little treasures is lovely as well. ~s

  7. I am still in awe of your talent! Love you friend!

  8. Beautiful Butterflies and very soft and serene. How clever of you to paint those little canvases to see what you like most. Each one is amazing. Happy Hearts are Creative Hearts…

  9. Hi Scarlett .. I enjoy watching your process – I love the sea … my mother lived by it in her later years … the crashing waves etc … I think the serenity you’ll achieve in your larger picture for the place above your bed – will be so peaceful … I love those colours ..

    Cheers Hilary

  10. Beautiful! I absolutely love all of the colors! <3

  11. All are gorgeous but I love the effect of the gel medium the most! If it wasn’t for your lovely photos to show the process, I would never have known what gel medium does! Thanks for teaching me the difference! I too am a fan of butterflies and the ocean! I lived by the coast in college and at my prior residence. I miss the sea but I have a collection of lighthouse knick-knacks and oceanscape paintings to keep me company :). Beautiful art as always Scarlett!

  12. Love the gorgeous mini canvases! Great different scenes of the beach!

  13. Especially love the ship – so subtle but so clearly a sail/ship!

  14. Found you through Pinterest.

    I love these little canvases….what a wonderful talent you have – I am totally in awe!

  15. Oh, my! I wish I had the courage to start painting like you! At least small canvas… Beautiful work!

  16. Jim Symington

    Beautiful . I would like to paint sea scenes all day long.

  17. These are really nice. I am going to give this a try.
    Thanks for the tutorial.


  18. If you dont mind me asking, what size are the measurements of these

    • Hi Audrey, these little canvases are 2″ x 4″. I found them at Michael’s craft store. Have a great week! ~Scarlett

  19. thanks for sharing that…you are very kind!

  20. This is very inspiring! Nice post 🙂

  21. I really like these small sized paintings… I can see them in a grouping with like minded objects. I just posted them to my Pinterest page on ‘My Love of Art’ board … 🙂

  22. Pingback: Day 4: Soothing Blue | Me vs Art 365

  23. Great ideas….did you try more gel with just the teenciest bit of color? Also, could spray with water to get that lightness you want. Let me know how itworks. Ann

  24. Jeryl Swanson

    Hello, I came across these awesome paintings. I am a self taught artist, too and work mostly with kids, but many of my parents are wanting adult classes and I would love to create these with my parents. Just wanted to know if I have your permission to do so and would give you credit, of course for the designs, etc. These are perfect for our area as we live in Washington State. Please let me know and if I may post on my Facebook page the actual picture to share so parents would know what the class would be. Thank you so much! Jeryl

    • Thanks, Jeryl! I think it’s a great project for all ages, too. Of course you can share the project and the photo you need, thanks for being so kind, I appreciate your comment and I’m especially grateful for the credit and link! Have a blessed week!

  25. I absolutely love your work. I am self taught also. I love your use of the medium, I purchased it but have not tried it yet but I will on my next project. I will use your idea of the mini project before the big painting. . I also like the idea of the 4 related works. Thanks for the inspiration.

  26. excellent stuff

  27. these are all really beautiful! thanks for sharing your process!

  28. love your paintings, I myself paint, whenever I find the time, looking forward to doing more this summer..question, never used this gel medium, can you tell me what brand and where do I find it,,

    • Hi Zara, I buy my gel medium at Michael’s with the 40% coupons they issue. The brand I like to use is Liquitex, but I’ve also used Golden and it’s great, too. Have a wonderful summer and I hope you find plenty of time to pursue your art! ~Scarlett

  29. Hi,
    I found your site through Pinterest and I am soooooo happy I did! I’ve always loved the idea of painting, but didn’t feel I could. My husband and son kept telling me to just try since I’d talk about it a lot 🙂 I played on paper with acrylic paint but was waaaaaay too afraid to waste a canvas. So this year (just a week ago) my son bought me some paints, a pallet knife, a couple 8×10 canvases and also the most adorable 3×3 tiny canvases because he thought maybe the small ones would scare me less…though I still didn’t want to mess them up…in comes your site! I LOVE these and that they also happen to be on tiny canvases was just awesome! And the way you went step by step made it seem like something I could maybe try. So I did and had a blast! No where near as good as yours of course…but I had lots of fun and finally saw how different it felt to paint on a canvas as opposed to paper 🙂 I’d love to email you a picture just cuz. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing talent and life! Thanks again, Jade

    • That’s Awesome! Would love to see them, you can send them by msg on my FB page, Art is Medicine!
      Thanks so much for the kinds words, I’m so glad you had fun with this project! Have a blessed week~Scarlett

    • I have heard of some people painting over a canvas that they “messed up”. One lady on a site I was at said you can either paint directly over the last, or gesso then paint again. Sorry can’t recall what site it was.

  30. Georgia Toons

    Beautiful! Art is Medicine! xox!

  31. They’re really beautiful and inspiring.

  32. FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing!!

  33. Jeanne Chapman

    I was a gourd artist for 12 yrs. Went thru some nasty life, than this summer got a little excited about just painting clouds. Recently I took an acryics class to get some technique, but had a very disinterested artist for a teacher. Dropped her class and went to a demo of mixed media that got me turned on again! Now I find your tutorial on pinterest and you have given me the shove to get started again. Bravo.

    • Wonderful, Jeanne! I’m so glad inspiration struck! Gourd painting sounds pretty awesome, I would love to give that a try sometime soon! Have a great week!

  34. Betty Wilkins

    Great idea. I love all of them. Would look great as a grouping

  35. Absolutly love the paintings but also like the duvet cover, if you dont mind me asking where did you get it from? I wouldn’t mind doing the same as you!!

    • Hi Charmaine, I got that duvet cover from Pottery Barn. They had a lot of butterfly themed items a while back and they were all so pretty!
      Thanks for stopping by and have a great week! Scarlett

  36. Scarlett, what an inspiring amazing work! It made me want to try this technic. I’ve never painted with gel medium, but it makes a huge difference. So I looked at Amazon to buy one and they have different kinds – Matte, Gloss, Gloss heavy, Matte super heavy. Which one would you recommend for the beginner? Thank you for your tutorial and answer. Olga

    • Hi Olga, I first tried using a matte gel medium and then experimented with the heavier textures/gloss types later on. The gloss mediums really make your work look shiny when the paint dries. so just make sure that’s the look you want before your mix it in! Have fun and thanks for stopping by!

  37. Wow!

    Our work is very similar!

    Have you ever visited Ocracoke Island NC?

  38. Lovely little art pieces, looking forward to seeing your larger canvas! Thank you for sharing your tips and process in creating these works!

  39. They are all beautiful!! Great process, thanks for sharing!

  40. Wow, they are all beautiful but I love the ship one! Simple beauty with an element of escape.

  41. Wow, I love those. I have just started painting and wanted to do two similar painting of the ocean for my niece and I to remember a trip we just went on tgtr. I bought two 8×10 canvases. You make this look simple enough for me 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Hi Joan, thanks for taking the time to comment. The 8x10s are always a great size, especially if you want to frame them later. Enjoy your painting adventures, I bet they turn out great! ~Scarlett


    I love how You made up your process. Doing it your way makes it more of yours. You are in the work and you know how to work out your process. THAT is what makes you an Artist. You did an amazing job. Ive just started working with my 13 year old grand daughter art as she has decided this is her interest. Yesterday she did your first one with three different elements. And today I see this! I just sent this to her. Thanks so much for posting this. She can now see how she can expand on her original.

  43. Scarlett,
    I’ve been concentrating on painting waves in watercolor. Loved your experiments here! Very impressive! I’ve learned a lot this past month and enjoyed seeing how you handled painting the beach.
    Thx! Eileen

  44. I love the two with out the medium, also love the duvet! You have an amazing talent and I can see that you love what you are doing. I started acrylic painting about 2 years ago and have sold several plus given many as gifts, I prefer the 16×20 size. So far I haven’t the nerve to use pallette knives. Good luck in your future endeavors into painting.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Margaret! Isn’t painting fun? Congratulations on selling your work, that is no easy feat! Blessings to you in your artistic endeavors, as well! Have a great weekend! ~Scarlett

  45. Love how you did the canvases… Don’t think I can pick out a fav, they are all so creative. Thanks for sharing, I will be giving your idea a try!

    • Thanks so much, Louise! I bet you’ll be surprised by how each one turns out different. Have fun painting!

  46. Wow…. these r sooo awesome…. d idea to try on a smaller canvas is too good…

  47. I saw these lovely paintings on Pinterest and just love them all. I am a budding artist that has been hesitant to pick up the brush and just start something but you have inspired me to begin. Thank you for sharing your beautiful works af art.

    • Wonderful, Elaine! I’m so happy to hear you are inspired to get started! Happy Painting! ~Scarlett

  48. I loved your painting samples and your method of painting. I’ve never tried a pallet knife painting but I think I will now that I see yours. I don’t know how ankold this picture is or if you have finished your large painting, but if you have I would love to see it. If so could you send it to me on Pinterest. Or Facebook? Sorry I don’t have a website..Thanks

    • Thanks so much, Jeanie! I did finish the painting a few years ago, and then when I was ready for a change, I gessoed over it! I have done this several times to save money. One thing I do remember is that the palette knife technique was easy on the tiny canvases, but did not work at all the large one! Have fun trying out your palette knife and paints, and thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year!

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