The Art of Seascape Paintings

Seascape painting by Oahu artist Saumolia Puapuaga
'Distant Blessings'​​ by Saumolia Puapuaga

Seascape paintings depict the sea, ocean, or other bodies of water in a visual art form. These paintings can be representational, depicting specific locations or moments in time, or they can be more abstract, focusing on the feelings and emotions evoked by the sea. 

Throughout art history, seascapes have been popular ocean art subjects for artists, with famous examples ranging from the serene ocean views of Claude Monet to the turbulent waves of Winslow Homer. In addition to being beautiful, seascape paintings also offer an opportunity for artists to explore themes such as the passage of time, the power of nature, and our relationship to the environment. 

Surrounded by the bright blue Pacific ocean, Hawaii is the source of inspiration for many exquisite seascape paintings. In this article we're going to dive into all the different elements that make seascapes so unique!

What is a Seascape Painting?

Any art that depicts the sea can be considered "seascape art". Seascapes may include elements such as beaches, cliffs, ships, and other coastal features. Some common characteristics of seascape paintings include:

  • Depiction of the sea or ocean: This is the most obvious characteristic of a seascape painting, as the sea or ocean should be the primary focus of the artwork. 

  • Depiction of coastal features: Seascape paintings may include elements such as beaches, cliffs, harbors, and other features found along the coast. These elements may be included to provide context or to add visual interest to the painting.

  • Use of color: The color palette of a seascape painting may vary depending on the mood or theme of the artwork. Some seascapes may be depicted in cool, muted tones to convey a sense of calm or tranquility, while others may use brighter, more vibrant colors to convey energy or excitement.

  • Use of light: The way that light is depicted in a seascape painting can greatly affect the overall mood and atmosphere of the artwork. For example, a seascape with a warm, golden sunlight may convey a sense of warmth and happiness, while a seascape with a cold, gray light may convey a sense of melancholy or isolation.

  • Depiction of movement: The sea is constantly in motion, and this movement can be depicted in seascape paintings through the use of techniques such as brushstrokes or impasto (thick layers of paint). This can give the impression of waves crashing against the shore or water rippling in the breeze.

Artists have been painting seascapes for hundreds of years, so it's unsurprising that there are many different styles of seascape art. Some of the most popular styles are are realistic seascapes, which aim to accurately depict the appearance of the sea and coastal landscapes, and impressionistic seascapes which are characterized by loose, fluid brushstrokes and a focus on the overall mood or atmosphere of the scene. 

Another popular style is abstract seascapes which may feature simplified or stylized representations of the sea and coastal landscapes. Surreal seascapes are characterized by elements of the bizarre or unexpected and may include dreamlike or fantastical elements, whereas hyperrealistic seascapes are extremely detailed and look almost like a photograph. Lastly, minimalist seascapes are characterized by a minimal use of elements and a focus on simplicity and purity of form.

What does the sea symbolize in art?

Seascape paintings can be rich in symbolic meaning and can evoke a wide range of emotions and associations. Depending on the context and interpretation of the work, seascapes may symbolize the vastness and power of the natural world, with the sea often seen as a force to be reckoned with and evoking a sense of awe and respect. 

Seascape paintings may also be used to symbolize emotion and feeling, with the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of the sea reflecting the complexity of human emotions. The ocean has long been associated with exploration and the possibility of new beginnings, and seascapes may be used to evoke a sense of freedom and adventure. 

The constant movement of the waves and the changing of the tides can also be seen as a symbol of the passage of time and the impermanence of all things. In addition, the vastness and depth of the ocean can be seen as a metaphor for the depths of the human mind, and seascape paintings may be used to encourage reflection and introspection. 

Overall, seascapes in art can be highly symbolic and can evoke a wide range of themes and ideas.

How to decorate with seascape paintings

Seascape painting on canvas above coastal bedroom
'Into the Blue' by Patrick Parker​​

Incorporating seascape paintings into your home decor can be a great way to add a touch of interest and personality to your space. There are many different styles that can work well with seascapes, depending on your personal preferences. 

If you love the beach and want to bring a bit of that laid-back, relaxed vibe into your home, consider pairing soft watercolor seascape paintings with other coastal-inspired decor elements such as weathered wood and natural fibers. This look, known as coastal chic, can be very inviting and welcoming. 

Alternatively, if you prefer a more modern aesthetic, consider incorporating abstract seascape paintings into a modern minimalist decor style. Choose a simple, unframed seascape print or original seascape painting, and hang it as a focal point in a room with clean lines and a monochromatic color palette. 

For a more traditional look, consider pairing realist seascape paintings with classic furniture and other traditional decor elements. Choose a frame in a classic style, such as gold or silver leaf, to complement the art. 

For those who love mixing and matching different styles, seascape paintings make a versatile addition to an eclectic home decor aesthetic. Choose a piece that speaks to you and use it as a starting point to build the rest of the room around - seascape paintings look beautiful when paired with ocean art or even surfboard art!

No matter what your personal style, a seascape painting can be a beautiful and meaningful addition to your home decor. The timelessness and versatility of seascapes make them easy to style even as trends change, so investing in something you love today will give you a piece of art that can be enjoyed for a lifetime!

Where Can I buy Seascape Paintings? has a curated collection of seascape Hawaii art paintings by local artists. Check out some of our favorites below!

Resin Seascape Paintings by Bree Poort

Bree uses resin to create relaxing seascape paintings that capture the beauty of Hawaii's shoreline from above. 

Contemporary Seascape Paintings by Patrick Parker

Maui artist Patrick Parker uses a mix of painting, collage, and other techniques to create vibrant and detailed seascape paintings. 

Read More about Patrick

Surreal Seascape Paintings by Jackie Eitel

Jackie Eitel draws inspiration from her Maui home to create imaginative seascape paintings that look like something out of a dream. 

Original Seascape Paintings

Seascape Fine Art Prints