Kathleen Karlsen Mobile Header

Home > Symbolism > Nature Symbols > Ocean Paintings

Share with a friend today!

New resources each week.
SUBSCRIBE in the footer below
for notifications. 

Ocean Paintings: The Power of Peace and Relaxation

Ocean paintings grace the walls of homes both near and far from the ocean. Ocean paintings are wonderful for those living far from the ocean to remind them of the peace and repetitive sounds and images that have brought tranquility to mankind forever. As for those right on the beach, seascapes are a way to bring the outdoors inside.

The greatest challenge of seascapes is to get the sense of a fluid medium when working with semi-solid paint that dries to a permanently fixed image. The acrylic flow style of painting lends itself well to ocean paintings. The trick is to know the viscosity of the paint and various drying times so that the colors blend esthetically but still give a sense of liquid, fluid movement.


This article discusses the symbolic meaning of ocean paintings and the best use of ocean paintings in homes and offices. Ocean paintings symbolize the abundance of life and the source of life. The meanings of the ocean include endless possibilities, the emotions, depth, power and magnetism. Explore these meanings and the power of ocean paintings! 

Understanding Ocean Symbols

Ocean paintings symbolize the source of life and the abundance that dwells in the ocean. Evolutionists believe that all of life originated in the sea. As Walt Whitman wrote in his work Leaves of Grass, the ocean is “the cradle endlessly rocking” or the birthplace and infancy of life.

Ocean Symbols: Endless Possibilities

The ocean is constantly changing, thus symbolizing limitless opportunities and possibilities. For this reason, a seascape painting can be advantageous in an office environment..

A Fortunate Wind by Kathleen Karlsen

Ocean Symbols: Water & Emotions

The ocean also represents the emotional world–always changing and ever-expanding. A seascape can keep us in touch with that part of ourselves as well as with a powerful element in our environment.

Ocean Symbols: Experiencing Depth

The depth of the ocean is another common theme in poetry and literature. An ocean painting may be set by the shore or far out on the horizon where unfathomable depths exist. To say that one’s love or rage or devotion is “as deep as the ocean” is to indicate that there is no end to the feeling being experienced.

Ocean Symbols: Power

The ocean can also be threatening–a wave can develop into a tsunami or a storm can sink a ship. Although the role of the ocean in causing death and havoc is probably not the best topic for an ocean painting, the sense of power in a brewing hurricane can still be attractive and invigorating.

Ocean Symbols: Magnetism

In an ocean painting we usually want to be reminded of a peaceful summer day at the beach. However, the immense power of the ocean is part of its magnetic quality. We can feel the energy driving even the smallest wave in an ocean painting.

Best Uses for Ocean Paintings

Seascapes appeal to people of all ages. The ocean is almost as universal as the sky. In addition, an ocean painting is usually a depiction of the surface of the ocean, but what lies beneath is so vast as to be almost inconceivable.

Ocean Paintings in Bedrooms

The most common use of ocean paintings is for bedrooms. The blue colors are peaceful and conducive to sleep and relaxation. They also work well for dining rooms and living rooms. However, large paintings can be overwhelming in a small space.

Cosmic Ocean Painting

Cosmic Ocean by Kathleen Karlsen

Ocean Paintings in Apartments

Small to mid-size paintings will be more successful for a small apartment or a small room. A small ocean painting is a study in contrast–the huge, almost immeasurable mass of the ocean contained in a small space in a painting. 

Ocean Paintings and Color

Seascapes can be used to balance environments with lots of yellows, reds and orange colors. The cool water element helps to balance the more fiery colors. Ocean paintings also help to soften environments with a preponderance of metal in the decor.

Ocean Paintings in Businesses

The fluidity of the ocean goes without saying. That kind of adaptability is a wonderful metaphor for competing in an ever-changing commercial environment. The almost unlimited forms that can be created and filled by the ocean are an inspiration for businesses finding their niche or reinventing themselves to remian successful in a changing world.

Ocean Paintings in Medical Offices

The fluidity of a water painting can help to offset the harsh edges of metal cabinets and furniture or sterile environments. Ocean paintings are especially useful in doctor’s offices where the relaxation of the patient is paramount and the rooms often have a good deal of white and metallic colors.

the Water Element Painting

The Water Element by Kathleen Karlsen

The Art of Ocean Paintings

Next to portraits, ocean paintings are probably some of the more difficult paintings to tackle. The surface of the ocean is like a face with an expression that never stays put.

A successful painting is a real treasure–capturing a single instant in time. Creating a seascape is never boring. Each one is different and can never be duplicated in another painting.

The Style of Ocean Paintings

Ocean paintings and seascapes are a specialty for many artists. It is, indeed, a lifelong study to depict the ocean. Understanding the movement of water is a key element. The style is also critical.

An ocean painting can be realistic, stylized or impressionistic. The goal is to convey the spirit of the ocean in some measure, mostly through color choices. Sometimes this is done by spreading the image across the entire canvas so that not even the sky or shore can be seen.

The Appeal of Ocean Paintings

Although not everyone lives near the ocean, water covers about 70 percent of the planet, leading to our self-designation as the blue planet. In fact, there are even underwater national parks. A number of historic sites where ships have sunk beneath the waves have become national parks, including the Ellis Island Ferry and the war ship Arizona from WWII.

Under the surface of the ocean is a completely different world of strange creatures, communities of sea life and occasionally sunken boats and treasure. The endless and unseen possibilities of the ocean will ensure that this genre remains popular into the foreseeable future.

Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

Kathleen Karlsen Sacred Mantras & Symbolic Art

Kathleen’s Books

Vocal Medicine reveals Kathleen Karlsen’s personal journey and years of research into mantras, chanting and kirtan. Learn more about using mantras and singing to invigorate your life! Explore the chakras and the impact of sound in every area of your life. 

Flower Symbols by Kathleen Karlsen features fascinating information about the folklore of the world’s most beloved flowers. Flowers accompany us in nearly every major event in life. This book is a perfect gift for every flower lover in your life! 

Flower Art & Gifts

Beautiful artwork, coffee mugs and prints featuring flowers, landscapes and nature. Unique inspirational artwork. Produced in the United States. Flat rate shipping $4.95 per order (US only), unlimited items.

Other Resources On This Site

Other resources on the web: Vibrational Frequencies of Life.

Ocean Paintings Article Summary

Discover the symbolic meaning of ocean paintings! Find ways to enhance your home or office with ocean paintings. Learn about the many symbolic meanings of water and oceans. Explore these meanings and the power of ocean paintings. 

Share with a friend today!