Push Yourself

Watercolor painting by Eileen McKenna inspired by Degas | Degas’s dancers

This week, as I paint the final week of my “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” email series, I’m so happy with what I’ve accomplished. It’s amazing what we can do when we venture outside of our comfort zone.

Painting Paris has given me the opportunity to revisit our trip, to learn more about Paris, to push myself creatively, and improve my watercolor skills. It’s like starting this blog six years ago. I made a commitment, announced it, and then felt accountable to following through. Before the blog I famously started creative projects and then abandoned them the first time it wasn’t easy.

I’ve learned it’s part of the creative process that there inevitably is a difficult phase. I no longer give up but push through and if pushing through doesn’t work I try again. And I appreciate the lesson each painting or sketch teaches me.

Recently I read an urban sketcher say, that sketching a place allows them to really see that place. I’m doing the painting after the fact, but I feel the same way. More than just looking back at photos of our trip to Paris, painting the photos is allowing me to relive it, see the details and it’s compelling me to dig deeper and learn more about aspects of our trip.

There were a few elements to the email series that I didn’t fully think through – the time it takes to do more detailed paintings – all while filming my process. The time it takes to edit the videos – five per week! Not to mention memory issues and technical problems that put my back five days and had me completely upgrading my desktop computer.

You don’t know what you don’t know until you do. Despite the frustrations and the time, I’m grateful to have learned as much as I have about video. I’m still fairly new to it but on my way. I never would have progressed as much if I hadn’t embarked on the email series and the idea to paint Paris on my own would have fizzled out much sooner.

I’m really proud of the content of the email series. I didn’t have it 100% mapped out when I launched it, and am happy with how it’s come together. Each of the four emails has a Paris related theme, includes tips on painting in watercolor, and includes five prompts within the week’s theme. There are detail on each prompt as well as links to learn more. There are several reference photos for each prompt on the Let’s Paint Paris pinterest board.

For each of the prompts there is a video showing my process for painting the prompt, where occasional watercolor tips pop up. (There is no audio in the videos.)

The “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” themes for the weeks are:

Week 1: Food (especially pastries!)

Week 2: The Architecture – Details of the city

Week 3: The Masters – Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Signac, etc.

Week 4: The Palace of Versailles

Each week as I started planning the prompts, searching for photos and links that gave further details, I became more and more inspired to paint that theme!

I loved thinking about my watercolor painting process and breaking it down into tips to share.

The email series is not available now, but I plan to release it again in the future – make sure you’re on my newsletter list if you’d like to be notified when it becomes available again. It’s a great program to inspire you, motivate you to paint daily, and help improve your watercolor skills. Sign up for my newsletter here.

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