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Painting Critiques for the Beach Reflections Workshop

December 6, 2023
By Richard Robinson
Painting Critiques for the Beach Reflections Workshop logo

Painting Reflections on the Beach

One of my favorite subjects - a puffy cloud reflected in a wet beach with a sprinkling of sunlight. Easy to paint and a great result every time. (Except when it isn’t).

There’s always a built in colour harmony here because the sky is reflected in the water and it’s kind of like painting an abstract painting since it’s mainly just big areas of colour with a few sprinkles of detail that tell you what’s going on.

This demo is in acrylics but it's fine for oils too.

"Beach Reflections" 14x14" Acrylic on canvas by Richard Robinson


What materials are used in this class?

Chroma Atelier Interactive Acrylics
Phthalo Blue
Brilliant Magenta
Yellow Ochre
Arylamide Yellow
Toning Grey
Titanium White


Rosemary & Co. Richard Robinson Brush Set

Palette knife
Paper towels
Bucket of water

Ruakaka Beach, New Zealand 


I tone the canvas with yellow first, let that dry then start from the top down which I often do when working with acrylics.


I build the clouds with blocky shapes working from cool dark to warm light, trying to let bits of the yellow background show through. The shadowed land and the ocean come next.


The wet sand and reflections are filled in, trying for mainly soft edges and only vertical or horizontal strokes to help create the illusion of reflections.


Once the painting is dry I glaze some blues over the foreground especially which really helps with the reflective quality and subdues the punchy orange a little.



Student Critiques

Beach reflections, acrylic with oil glazing, canvas, 39 cm x 39 cm

Artist: Elena Sokolova

Wow you're always the first to post up your painting Elena! Never fails to impress. Great work, again. Strong colour and an interesting variety of brushwork combining both impasto and glazing. My only suggestion would be to have another go at the birds, taking a little more time with them. You'll have them eating out of your hand. Mine were a little big and yours a little bigger again. Get those tiny brushes out!


"Beach, clouds and birds. My first acrylic painting. Quite unnerving at times."

Artist: Ian States

Nicely done, Ian. You've got a little more light/dark contrast than mine and that generally means a more dynamic looking image but usually pays with a little less colour in the darks.
You've certainly captured the power of the large cloud shadow over the land - looks great! Perhaps throwing the very distant end of the white sand beach into shadow would help the beach settle into that shadow area as well.
I like the extra layering you did of the distant lands upon the horizon. Nice touch.
You've painted this on a smaller canvas and what looks like over another painting, (because we can see the texture underneath), so there is a lot of broken texture in the foreground, which I think is a shame because it doesn't really suit the smoothness of reflections in wet sand. The same can be said for the cloud. If you like that look though, that's all good.

One aspect of drawing I would like you to look at is the subtle angle of the waves and how they should never come to a horizontal line in this situation, but always be sloping and curving gently and carefully towards the horizon.

Solid work Ian. Keep it up!



Beach Reflections, acrylic on 40x40 cm canvas.

Artist: Adana Virna

Beautifully done, Adana! You have a fresh painterly style going there. Strong vibrant colour, kept so by not overworking it, and a nice contrast between the blue and orange complements.

The only thing I might suggest is to pay attention to the very slightly curved brushwork in the bottom third of my painting which lends a certain expansiveness to the scene. Something to consider anyway.

Great job.



Beach Reflections in Oils

Artist: Geoffrey Geeson

Hey Geoffrey, from a distance this one looks great - powerful contrasts, good shapes, strong colour and exciting brushwork. Beautiful!
Looking closer I can see you had some serious fun with your palette knife in the clouds. It's interesting how that extra texture pulls the clouds forwards in the picture plane and really draws the eye. Part of me wants to see the whole painting in this same impasto treatment. It must have been difficult to put that knife down!

Some of the colour in the bottom third has gone overly grey and could do with a lick of blue in it to better reflect the sky.

You're going to need a smaller fine brush for doing seagulls too.

Paint on!


Beach Reflections Oils on 14" square canvas

Artist: Nancy Newton

Hey Nancy that's some beautiful brushwork in there! Especially in the clouds. Gorgeous!

I'd just like to see the drawing on this one a little better. Take a look at levelling your horizon, trimming back the golden sand to a long single triangle and have another go at the colour in the water in that yellowish band across the middle - there's no reason for it to be yellow there.
Love those clouds!



Beach Reflections 16 X 16" Oil over acrylic base coat

Artist: Louise Villegas

Louise those clouds are beautiful! Very painterly and soft with loads of interesting details and a nice progression from cool shadows to warm lights.

The warm sand triangle is a little thick and that's created a bit of an awkward angle with the waterline, easily fixed. Similarly beware of tilting horizons. Perhaps that's the photo though.

I'd suggest you try balancing your phthalo blue mixtures out with a little more crimson or magenta to avoid a greenish tinge to it, noticeable in the foreground.

Also in the same area you could have used some more vertical strokes to help with the feeling of the cloud reflections and also to add more variety there.

Keep going!



Have some fun painting a quicky.

Follow me one brushstroke at a time as I take you through the full process of creating this expressive painting of Beach Reflections in New Zealand. Learn how to design around a central idea and discover the power of a simple palette and a painterly approach.

Good design, colour mixing, passionate brushwork and a variety of powerful ideas and techniques are demonstrated in the video. Enjoy!

Who is this course designed for?

ALL skill levels from beginner to advanced.
Oils or Acrylics.

 Learn About

  • Building clouds
  • Painting reflections
  • Expressive brushwork
  • Finishing details
  • Having fun!
  • Much more

Get the full course here:

Thanks to everyone who was part of the monthly workshop!

(Monthly workshops are available to all Premium Members - $20/month)