For all of you that don’t know me–my name is Ryan Kimba and I am a palette knife painter. I love to paint beaches, waves, palm trees, and sunsets. And with each new painting I aim to share my vision of seaside paradise with my viewers. I was born and raised in Michigan and graduated from Eastern with a degree in writing, my second love.
My first love is, yep! You guessed it. PAINTING!
Speaking of painting, today I will be showing you how to paint a seascape with palette knives. I think I’m going to do a tropical painting of some palm trees and mountains in the background.
So let’s get started…
..…..First we’ll begin tackling the sky. I think we’ll do a deep blue sky for our seascape painting. I always work from top to bottom so that I don’t have to worry about smearing or dragging my arm through the paint. I also like to mix my paint directly onto the canvas, which saves a lot of time. The piece of masking tape will give us a straight line for the horizon line.
Using Pthalo blue and Titanium white in oils, let’s begin by mixing them onto the canvas. Here we are going for sweeping motions from side to side, much like buttering a piece of toast. We’ll keep the blue a little lighter near the bottom.
Next let’s add some bright clouds to the blue. Keep in mind that we need to use thick applications of Titanium white, or else it will mix into the blue and we’ll lose the bright white. This way we will keep it layered and solid over our base. Let’s put the mountain in the background on the right. To get the color you can mix Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, which makes a chromatic black. Add a bit of Pthalo Blue and let this dark mix fade into the sky color. Since the mountain is a little in the distance, we need to make sure it is grayed due to atmospheric perspective.
Now we’ll start working on the water. I think I’d like a Turquoise for the base of the water. Once we have that down, we can always add other shades of blue to the water to give it more character. Don’t forget to make the horizon line straight. If you don’t, it will make the entire painting look off. This will require a very steady hand. If it doesn’t go well at first, don’t worry! It will come with practice. I promise! 🙂
I jumped ahead a bit, but you can start to see the progress. I finished off the ocean color by adding a bit of Pthalo blue, one of my go-to’s! I also added a bit of white to add some light to the waves. In the foreground I added some Permanent Green Light for grass, and then warmed it by mixing the green with some Cadmium Yellow Medium, which almost looks orange. For the earth I added white to Burnt Sienna. The green and tan ended up going quite well together!
Here we need some highlight to the mountain, by using some green along the edge. This will make the mountain look like it is shining in the sun. Make sure to keep it cool so that it doesn’t advance towards the foreground. I also added a smaller mountain closer to our land. I used some of the black I already have mixed on my palette to paint in some rocks in the sand. The more details the better. Notice the wonderful texture of the painting so far!? That is courtesy of using palette knives instead of brushes. It gives you a 3-D effect that is simply magnificent.
I thought it would be awesome to add a glimmering waterfall spilling over the edge of the mountain. Also, we can now start on the palm trees. To do this, we’ll need to lift some paint off of the canvas to paint the trunks. If you don’t do that the paint will mix into the blue. To scrape the paint off, I used a knife with a long tapering tip and scraped from top to bottom in one quick motion. I decided to make the trunks bend, as most palm trees tend to grow crooked in real life.
In this step I made mounds of sand in the foreground with a lot of white into my Burnt Sienna. I also added some more details in the grass using Green Earth, which is a dark, chalky shade of green on my palette. We will also use that color for the base of the palm fronds. I also added waves in the ocean, because what seascape would be complete without waves??? Lastly I filled in the trunks of our trees with Burnt Sienna and Cad. Yellow mix. Now we are ready to finish off the palm trees.
To make the trees look alive, we need to add various shades of green. Some of the fronds are in shadow and some are in light. To add sunlight, simply add Cadmium Yellow Light to the medium shade of green. You can also add black to the heart of the tree to really make it pop. I also gave the trees shadows, so that the sun is coming from the top right of the scene. We are almost done now. But I think we need a little more color in the grass.
For the final touch I decided to include some vibrant tropical flowers into the picture. To get these colors you’ll need to do a bit of mixing. The pink was mixed from Cadmium Red Deep and white, the violets from Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Red Deep, and the blue is Pthalo Blue plus white. By varying the hues of the colors they will look more life-like.
I think that about wraps it up for our seascape painting! I had a LOT of fun and hope that you did too! Painting is such an incredible process because we can do whatever we want to do. Add anything we’d like to add! If you have any questions, feel free to drop a line below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
I decided to name my painting “The Paradise Within.” If you’d like to see some close-up detail shots of the piece, visit my online Etsy shop at
And don’t forget to check out my Fine Art America page at
Until next time,