Amazing Oceans – How to Make an Abstract Ocean Picture

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Abstract Oceans

Under the Sea by Olga Tkachyk

This afternoon we are going to look at abstract art again, and create a piece of work that expresses or illustrates the ocean. We looked at abstract art last week, and how we can use it to express feelings and emotions, rather than to show a specific object or subject. If you want some reminders, or if you didn’t see those posts, you can find them below: 

Self Expression through Abstract Art 

Abstract Art Project

You may also find this post useful: 

Simple Process Art Activities 


Planning Your Work...

The Stormy Sea - Alma Thomas

As usual, when we are at the start of a piece of work, we need to do a little bit of planning. 

  • You could think about what you are going to express in your work – is it the deep sea, the coast line, some sea creatures, the coral reef, a rock pool, or simply your love of the ocean?
  • Next, you need to decide what materials you are going to use to make your work. Is it a collage piece, or watercolour work? How about a clay sculpture with sequins and glitter (like the clay fish yesterday)? Perhaps a mix of materials, like the acrylic and glitter paintings we looked at yesterday?
  • And, if you are painting, what are you going to paint on? Paper is absolutely fine – is there anything else you could use? An old piece of wood, some thick cardboard, or how about something small, or really really big?
  • For this project, remember that we are working with colour as our primary focus, so pick materials that have interesting or bold colours that you can work with!
  • Collect your materials and get started. Remember, the best thing about abstract art is experimenting with your materials, and using your feelings to guide you!

Jake and Poppy's Alma Thomas Abstract Sea Pictures

Our home education topic for last half term was Oceans, so we have quite a few art projects to share with you! 

I asked them to take an ocean painting they had already done, and turn it into an Alma Thomas style picture, using the colours as their focus! Jake chose his jellyfish painting, and Poppy chose a coral reef sea scape. Here are the results. 


I have left the originals in the images, so you can see how the colours have transferred across to the abstract image. Jake and Poppy used corks and the rubbers on the ends of pencils to print the circles. You could try this, or have a go at your own idea, or one of the ideas below… 


An Ocean in a Bottle

This Ocean in a Bottle from Happy Hooilgans is technically a science activity – but hey, art and science cross over all the time – that is one of the reasons art is such a great subject! Click the image to take you to the instructions! It looks beautiful – what al lovely way to play with colour. 


Bubble Painting

This is a great one to try for all ages – its a super process art activity that can achieve some beautiful an interesting results which are perfect for illustrating to sea! This post from Artful Kids has 3 different ways to try bubble painting, so hop over and have a look! 

Lots of Paint, Lots of Water

This piece by Nikki Marie Smith, is a stunning example of  how abstract work can perfectly illustrate a subject without showing it for what it is. It is titled Ocean Depths, and I totally get that feeling when I look at it. The effects are so watery and bubbly and the wonderful colours show all the different pockets of water, seaweed and light coming through.

You could achieve something similar with water colours, or watery acrylics… You could even try some wax resist underneath (simply use a white or black crayon on your paper before painting). Have a few goes in your sketchbook first if you want to try it out. Be brave and give it a go! 

Something else...

There are so many ideas I could share with you, but I will never get this post finished if I do that! I know you are all such a creative bunch, you will make some amazing pieces! I’d love to see what you do! 

A Little Light Reading

For your reading today, I have a sweet poem called The Dolphin, but unfortunately I can’t find the author… I like this poem as it is very evocative with its use of colour and adjectives. Can you write a poem about the colours in the sea?

Journal Prompts

Untitled - Alma Thomas
  • If you didn’t do the drawing workshop this morning – you can do that now
  • As above, can you write a poem about the colours of the sea?What can you use to describe the colours? An example in the poem that works well is “Emerald Green”. The next prompt might help with this too – 
  • Look at the colour wheel or swatches you made (if you haven’t made it, you can do that now too)- can you give the different colours different names? Be creative, be silly, have fun… 
  • Pick your favourite ocean colour and write about it, or draw a whole picture with it , or doodle a whole page in it. 
Abstract Ocean Art
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Katherine is a mixed media artist, art teacher, writer, designer, photographer – and mum of 2 – who works and lives in North Devon, nestled in the woods on a little smallholding. She has a BA in Performance Studies, an MA in Fine Art, and an MFA in photography, alongside a background in early years childhood and special education. Katherine uses her artistic talents, passion for helping people, and unique creativity to create articles, courses and classes that promote creativity, artistic skills, self expression and well-being. She believes in the power of the creative arts and how engaging with them can improve so many aspects of life.
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