Storm Waves—A quick oil painting study after Ivan Ajvazovszkij

Welcome to my blog!

I’m a painter and an art teacher, and I paint in the style of the old masters. I sometimes make copies of artwork by other artists. This is a common practice among painters who are still learning their craft: by copying paintings by old master painters, they learn what makes those paintings great. So today I’m going to show you one painting that I made using this technique, which was inspired by Ivan Ajvazovszkij’s 1886 painting “Storm”.

Here, my aim wasn’t just to learn about oil painting techniques but also about color theory—and specifically how complementary colors can be used effectively with each other in a tonal painting. If you’d like to see what I mean, why not read on?

I copied this picture after one of the seascape paintings by the Russian artist Ivan Ajvazovszkij (1817-1900). He used oil paint on canvas, and his paintings were very popular in his lifetime. It was challenging, but also fun to paint the form of the waves and the translucency of the water. I made it alla prima, or wet in wet, in one go, from start to finish. There is no strong light source because of the stormy and cloudy sky. Instead, there is an even ambient lighting in the scene.

Before I started Storm Waves painting

This is a picture painted with oil on canvas. The size of the painting is 84×142 cm (33×56 inches), and it was made by Ivan Ajvazovszkij in 1886. It’s a part of his Seascape paintings. The artist’s style is Classical Romanticism, so he uses elements of Romantic themes but doesn’t leave out details and realism either.

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817–1901) was a Russian Classical-Romantical painter who was recognized as one of the best marine painters of his time. During his lifetime, he was well-liked and produced about 6,000 paintings throughout his nearly 60-year career. He was most known for his seascapes, although he also painted landscapes, Armenian themes, and portraits.

After I finished the Storm Waves painting,

Here’s what I learned from painting Storm Waves:

  • When working with a limited palette, it’s important to consider what colors you are using in your painting. While the sky is a purplish gray and the ocean is an olive greenish-blue, those colors make up most of the composition and need to be balanced out with neutral colors so that they don’t overpower each other (which would have been the case if I had used pure turquoise blue or pure purple instead).
  • I painted the sea with a turquoise-hued Phthalocyanine Blue mixed with Yellow Ochre and Black. This created a pleasant tone for the water, which dominated the color scheme of this piece nicely but also stood out as an element that adds character to this work.

I thought about what else I could do differently next time:

  • Use more detail in my paintings than I did here because my goal for future works is always to improve my skill level by learning more about different techniques and practicing them until they feel like second nature!

Painting a copy of a work of art can be a great way to learn oil painting techniques.

We’ve all seen the paintings by Van Gogh and Monet. And we’ve all seen the Impressionist painters, who were inspired by nature and the countryside. If you want to learn how to paint like them, then it’s important to study their work carefully.

Now let’s look at Ivan Ajvazovszkij’s “Storm Waves” (below). This is an example of a seascape painter using thickly layered oil paint on canvas. As with all sea painters, he is concerned with capturing movement in waves—but he does it differently than many other artists do!

A seascape artist wants his painting to be composed and realistic in a way that the viewer is drawn into the scene; that means the whole design, the tone-, the color scheme, and the details must be just right as he paints it onto his canvas! He wants us viewers who see his finished artwork to know exactly what we would see if we were standing near some ocean waves during storm conditions… and watching how those waves interact with each other and land formations nearby, like mountains or cliff sides… while also noticing other things happening in places further out, such as distant birds or ships and so on!


In conclusion, I believe that painting a copy of a work of art is a great way to learn oil painting techniques. It also helps you understand how many old master artists worked and then make these techniques your own. This can take some time for some people, but it’s definitely worth trying if you want to improve your skills as an artist.

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