This mixed media beach canvas painting makes for an eye catching piece of DIY art that is both easy and fun to make. By using objects like seashells and sand you can create a 3D piece that will look perfect on a wall or shelf in any beach lover’s home.
Although I live nowhere near any beaches, I still love costal themes. I’m especially fond of seashells, so I try every once in a while to work them into my crafting projects. Last year I made some Glitter Seashell Ornaments, so make sure to check those out too if you love crafting with seashells.
This time around, I wanted to do something with some tiny seashells I had collected here and there. My original intention was to use them for jewelry projects, but some of them were just a bit too big. So in an effort to use up more things in my crafting stash, I came up with this project.
I was mostly inspired by similar 3D beach art projects that people will make with resin. If you haven’t seen them, search Resin Beach Art or something similar on Pinterest for some awesome examples. However, resin can get really expensive and needs to be handled with a lot more care, so I wanted to try coming up with an alternative. Of course, the resin ones will always look 100 times better, but I hope this project can inspire someone.
What You Will Need to Make a Mixed Media Beach Canvas Painting
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Mini Beach Embellishments (seashells, rocks, starfish, etc)
You can use any kind of acrylic paint you want for this. I’m using the Mont Marte brand in the following colors: Titanium White, Burnt Sienna, Phtalo Blue, Deep Cyan, and Cerulean Blue. These are fine art acrylics, so they are thicker and smoother than craft acrylics and I think do a better job overall. However, if all you have are craft acrylics those would probably still work for this project too.
You also might notice that I have two different size brushes in the above picture. The larger brush is used for painting the base layer of paint on the canvas as well as sealing everything in the final steps. The smaller brushes are used for all the more detailed work. Throughout the tutorial I will specify which brushes I used for each step.
How to Make a Mixed Media Beach Canvas Painting
Step 1: Tape Edges of Canvas
Start by taping the edges of your canvas with painters tape. Line the tape up as close as you can to the edge of your canvas and tape evenly around.
This part is optional, but I think it makes the edges of the canvas look so much cleaner at the very end. If you don’t care about that, though, feel free to skip this part.
Step 2: Paint Base Layer on Canvas
Now it’s time to paint the base layer of sand and water. The water portion will show through at the very end so you want that to look as good as possible. But the sand color is important too. Even with a few layers of actual sand, the color of the canvas beneath still shows through a bit. So by painting the canvas underneath you can give the sand a bit of a richer color.
On that note, start by mixing your sand color. To get the color I used, I mixed Titanium White with just a small amount of Burnt Sienna. Decide how far up your canvas you want your beach to go and fill the area in with paint.
Next, paint the rest of the canvas with different shades of blue. I used lighter blues closer to the bottom of the canvas progressing to darker blues at the top.
At the bottom I used Cerulean Blue mixed with Titanium White. Next was Cerulean Blue by itself, followed by Deep Cyan and finally Phthalo Blue.
Using a larger flat brush, blend all these colors together until you’re happy with how they look. Even at this point, it’s already starting to look like a painting of a beach.
I chose not to blend the sand color with the water and left the colors separate. This was done because after adding the sand, you will still be able to see some of the paint color underneath. I think it looks much better when it’s one solid color showing through.
Step 3: Add Sand to Canvas
Now it’s time to add some 3D elements to this mixed media beach canvas, starting with the sand. Using one of the smaller paint brushes, brush a thin layer of Mod Podge over just the sand area of the painting. Then sprinkle on a generous amount of sand on top. Gently tap the canvas onto your work surface to shake off any loose grains of sand.
Because I haven’t been to a beach in a very long time and have no way of getting to one anytime soon, I simply bought my sand. I got mine from JoAnn Fabrics, but I’m pretty sure all the major craft stores carry sand in their floral department. I wanted to go for a more realistic look, but I’ve also seen sands in bright colors too if you wanted to make a more non-realistic scene.
If you do happen to have your own beach sand, you can use that too. It would be a great personal touch, especially if you are making this project as a gift for someone.
Step 4: Add Shells, Rocks, Etc. to Mixed Media Beach Canvas
Now comes the fun part: adding all the shells and other beach embellishments. Most of the shells I used came from Hobby Lobby’s jewelry department. The rocks and starfish were from a special collection I got from JoAnn years ago. Unfortunately, they don’t sell them anymore, but I’m sure you can buy similar items online.
After gathering all the different beach elements you want to use, grab your Mod Podge. Dab a very generous amount of Mod Podge to the bottom of each item. Then stick it where you want it to go on the sand.
It’s very important that you let everything COMPLETELY dry before moving on. If the glue hasn’t hardened properly, you risk your embellishments coming loose. For most applications, Mod Podge only needs to dry for 30 minutes or so. But in this case I would give it at least a few hours. To be safe I left mine overnight. At the very least just make sure that the glue has turned from white to clear before moving on.
Step 5: Add Second Layer of Sand onto Canvas
Next it’s time to add another layer of sand. This second layer helps to cover the base paint layer a little bit more. It also adds some more depth around the shells and rocks to make it look a little more like they are stuck in the sand.
Using a small paintbrush again, brush a thin layer of Mod Podge over the sand. This time you need to be a bit more careful and avoid getting glue on your embellishments. I found the little starfish to be the most tricky to work around. But if you get glue on anything you don’t want, it’s easy enough to wipe away.
Then take another generous handful of sand and cover everything you just spread glue on. Gently tap the canvas afterward to shake any excess sand loose.
Step 6: Seal Mixed Media Beach Canvas with Mod Podge
Before adding the gloss to the top of the water area, I decided to give everything one more brush of Mod Podge to seal everything. Using a large brush for the top painted area and the small brush for the sand, brush another thin layer of Mod Podge over the entire canvas. Once again, avoid getting glue on the beach embellishments.
For the sand, this part is entirely optional. The Mod Podge does change the look of the sand just a bit, but it also prevents any little bits of sand from coming loose. Just like when I use glitter, I prefer to always do one final seal so I don’t have glitter/sand/whatever all over my shelf later.
As far as the painted water area goes, I’m not sure if this was needed or not. But the Mod Podge doesn’t affect the final look and I’d rather not risk any of the paint smudging later.
When everything is dry, this is also the best time to remove the painters tape if you used it back in step 1. The area around the sand won’t look completely perfect, but will be a lot cleaner than if you didn’t use the tape at all.
Step 7: Add Dimensional Magic over Water Area
Now it’s time to make the water shine! The product I used to do this is called Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. It gives a very glossy and slightly 3D effect to whatever you put it on. Although it isn’t in the same league as resin, I think it still worked as an alternative.
Before you start, do NOT shake the bottle before you use it. That will introduce a lot of bubbles that you don’t want. I still had issues with bubbles anyway, so you wouldn’t want to make it even worse.
Squeeze a thin layer of the Dimensional Magic all over the water area of the canvas. You can use the tip of the bottle to gently push the gloss to the edges of the canvas.
Here’s what it looks like after I finished:
It has a milky color to it, but don’t worry, it will dry completely clear. As you can see, despite my best efforts some bubbles still made it through. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to pop them like you can with wet resin, so I had to leave them be. I figured at least it’s supposed to represent water, so bubbles aren’t as big of a deal to see.
Now comes the longest wait for this project. The Dimensional Magic needs a full 24 hours to fully set. But as far as I remember from working with it, resin takes around 3 days to cure. So I guess a third of that time isn’t so bad.
Once everything has dried, the gloss will be clear and shiny.
Unfortunately, the bubbles are still there. Again, since it’s water it’s not the biggest deal. Here’s a closeup so you can see them a bit better:
Step 8: Add Seafoam to Mixed Media Beach Canvas
Finally, this Mixed Media Beach Canvas is ready for the final touches. To make the seafoam and waves, I’m using something called Snow Tex Snow Paint. As the name implies, it’s usually used to paint snow. But I thought it would also do a great job looking like foam on the edge of the beach.
Using a small brush, add the Snow Tex on the edge of the beach where the sand meets the water. Then using gentle horizontal strokes with the edge of the brush, paint on some lines to represent the waves in the ocean.
And with that, your Mixed Media Beach Canvas Painting is complete! Prop it up on a shelf or add some framing hooks and hang it up on a wall. Or give it as a gift to someone who loves the beach.
Just to showcase the gloss on the water, here’s another angle that better shows off the shine when the light hits the canvas:
It of course looks much better in person. But this shows off the gloss pretty well.
Additional Notes on Mixed Media Beach Canvas Painting
When I was creating the practice piece for this project, I tried using glossy Mod Podge for everything. Here’s what the result looked like:
I prefer how the matte Mod Podge looks on the sand in the main tutorial. The water also doesn’t have as much as an effect as the Dimensional Magic, but is still plenty glossy when viewed from an angle.
To be honest I liked my waves on this one much better than my final project, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. I just wanted to show this one as well to show off another slight alternative to how this project can be done.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I’d love to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by and happy crafting!
If you liked this tutorial, don’t forget to pin it for later on Pinterest!