How to Paint an Ocean Waves Canvas

This is such an easy and satisfying project! Perfect for beginners and for anyone who wants to paint an acrylic wave painting for a gift or home decor! They are seriously so fun to make!

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Oh, how I love this ocean waves canvas painting! It is simple enough for a child or novice to make and it’s also quite therapeutic. :)

This painting idea came to me several years ago when I was working on some larger canvases. As I painted, I would swipe the extra paint off of my brush onto a smaller canvas (mostly because I hated wasting the paint!) After a while, I realized this smaller canvas looked like it was an ocean scene, with rollicking waves to boot, and ever since, I’ve wanted to create a series of these paintings, but this time on purpose.


This is such an easy and satisfying project! Perfect for beginners and for anyone who wants to paint an acrylic wave painting for a gift or home decor! They are seriously so fun to make!

Honestly, you don’t have to have any fancy painting skills for this one, and I purchased all of my acrylics and canvases at Target. Meaning, this is not a project where you will need premium supplies. But the cuteness factor is still there, promise!

You will need:
One square white canvas
Assorted acrylic paint
Paint pens in assorted colors
Paint brush
(You’ll also need water in a cup to rinse your brush in between colors.)

Note: You’ll definitely need one midnight blue or “Oxford Blue” for the background sky/waves, but the rest of the colors are up to your own taste.

This is such an easy and satisfying project! Perfect for beginners and for anyone who wants to paint an acrylic wave painting for a gift or home decor! They are seriously so fun to make!

How to:

First, you’ll need to paint the entire canvas with your dark blue acrylic. Make sure that you paint the sides of the canvas as well. (If you want the sides to be white, you can tape them off with painter’s tape.) Let the paint completely dry.

For the waves portion, begin painting on the lower third of the canvas. If you want a more wave-centric painting, then paint 2/3s of the canvas. Just try to not divide your canvas perfectly in the center. Dividing it into thirds ends up making the final painting look pleasing to the eye.

Once the background layer is dry, start with a new color and make upside down v patterns, curves, and waves. Space these across the bottom third of the canvas. Let dry. (You can also use a hair dryer to speed up this process.) Continue onto to the next color, overlapping and eventually filling up the entire bottom part of the canvas.

This is such an easy and satisfying project! Perfect for beginners and for anyone who wants to paint an acrylic wave painting for a gift or home decor! They are seriously so fun to make!

You will likely still see a bit of the dark blue peeping out from the background—you don’t have to completely cover the bottom portion of the canvas. That said, I layer paint on until I feel I have a nice amount of color and depth.

Once the paint is completely dry, add final touches, a quote or a word with paint pens. You can use paint pens to add tiny lines and details such as swirls through the waves—really, whatever you like!

This is such an easy and satisfying project! Perfect for beginners and for anyone who wants to paint an acrylic wave painting for a gift or home decor! They are seriously so fun to make!

As I mentioned in the introduction, this craft is simple enough for children to make, though it will probably work best for elementary age children if you want them to completely cover the canvas for the background. Of course, you can do that part, and have them make the wave marks with a paint brush or even their fingers. Using a hair dryer between colors would be ideal so they wouldn’t have to wait for the paint to dry. Alternatively, you could have them use paint pens for the entire project, though the paint would not have the depth and texture that acrylic gives.

I hope this project is a fun and easy one for your and your family! I cannot wait to send mine off to new homes this Christmas.

Have a lovely {and creative} day!