I have been painting sea pebbles for some time now and it is easier than I thought it would be. If you want to try but don’t know where to start, this is what I do, you can follow my steps or just use them as an inspiration to experiment on your own! So let’s start painting sea stones:
Choose your pebble.
I was able to collect, and still am, pebbles in Calabria, Italy by a marble rich coast. The pebbles I collected (and that some friends keep collecting and giving me) are smooth and rounded with some interesting white marble lines. They are already beautiful paperweights, if you ask me, but we want to up the game a notch. The best pebbles are those with a flatter side you can have them to rest upon. Other than this reccomendation you can choose a pebble as big as you like or as small as you like.
Clean your pebbles.
They are usually submerged or nearly submerged in salty water so the first thing to do is give them a nice rub to dissolve the salt and the sand particles that could have found a crevice where to rest. Soak them in tap water and don’t use soap (you simply don’t need it). Brush them with your hands or the first brush-like thing you can find. Toothbrushes are good.
I usually let them have a bath for a couple hours then fish them out of water, brush them with my hands to see if there is sand somewhere, wet them once more and then let them dry naturally.
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Today my pebbles are #blue and #green and I can assure you #windsorandnewton watercolor can stand anything, I usually don’t go all over about my colors but after 4 days of pebble painting I am positively in awe #kunst #arte #watercolor #hantverk #fridaydrawing #calabria #mare #vacanza
Let’s paint your pebble!
Now that the pebbles are dry it is time to paint! I don’t prime my pebbles, for the same reason I don’t usually prime my woodboard. If you want a smooth surface to paint go and get yourself a sheet of paper 🙂
I experimented with three different mediums, four if sketching using pencils counts as a separate medium: acrylic paint, watercolor, gouache. Each medium is good to be used and I haven’t found this much difficulty in covering my pebbles.
Acrylic paint is the easiest because of its drying speed and coverage but gouache is as nice and even a quality watercolor set can give you nice effects.
Watercolors were the first I tried, when I first went to Calabria for the Summer holidays. I used a Windsor&Newton travel set. As I am a popsurreal figurative artist I mainly paint portrait so I need a flesh color. I mixed my fleshtone using white and Burnt Sienna.
And now you are screaming: White watercolor! No way.
Wait a bit.
As pebbles are not white you can’t take advantage of the surface and just add water to the color you want to use as fleshtone. So I overcame the problem creating a less transparent color, and white does just this in watercolor sets, which was at the same time lighter.
Using acrylic paint you have a nice coverage, just use the mix you usually use for fleshtone. In acrylic I like to experiment with different recipes so, if you want to mix your own fleshtone you can try: Burnt Sienna and white, or English Red with Yellow Ochre and a pinch of Ultramarine Blue to an abudant dose of white.
As I paint what I see my fleshtone recipes are for let’s say Caucasian flesh, but there are plenty of tutorial for darker skintones. So go ahead and experiment and let me know what you come up with!
Gouache is somewhat like acrylic and the fleshtones recipes are the same. If you are like me and have only a base set you can have a nice skintone by mixing an orange with Magenta and Yellow adding Ultramarine Blue and, you guessed it, a ton of white. The gouache set I have doesn’t have many colors so my fleshtones are not perfect but I am getting used to the final result.
Sketch on your pebble!
We are now ready to sketch. My Calabria pebbles are grey so sketching with a regular pencil would be a problem. I indeed sketched some pebbles using HB pencil but then I had to move the pebbles to make the marks shine to see them clearly. A color pencil is the best choice. You can use a regular pencli or a watercolor pencil: the first give you a more stable sketch, the latter blend as you paint and can add a nice color variation, again, experiment and decide what is the effect you prefer.
I don’t plan too much when I paint on pebbles as it is something I like to see as a love project and not part of my actual job, so I don’t care much about neutralyzing the possibile barrel distortion you could have when drawing on a rounded surface. If you find it difficult painting on the more rounded side of your pebbles try on the flatter side first.