My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


3 Comments

Acrylic Painting Winter Birch Trees

Acrylic Painting Winter Birch Trees for Beginners #painting #beginners #acrylics #winter #trees
I wanted to swap out the two canvases above the couch for something new and had been thinking of painting simple birch trees. I painted the blue background and white tree trunks but it needed more. I looked on Pinterest at successful birch paintings and thought of ways to improve mine. Once I had a few ideas, I hit the ground running and it was easy. It’s great when you have a plan!

The feelings of a beginner #creativity #painting
First steps:

  • Paint a medium blue background. I used a mixture of white and blue with a little red mixed in. (My goal was to coordinate with the blues in my living room.)
  • Paint vertical white areas for the trees. You don’t want perfect stripes because trees don’t have straight edges. They aren’t the same size and don’t grow perfectly up and down.
  • Add thin branches going at an upward angle from the tree trunks. (Be consistent – I had to cover up some of my branches with blue because I had too many in one area and none in another. In the end I painted just a few on each side of the trunks.)

Painting birch treesPainting birch trees
Add depth and details:

  • Paint a dark edge (black) on each side of the trees and then brushed it horizontally into the trunk to create that birch look.
  • Paint off white (buff white) on the trunks – the white alone is too flat. Cover part of the black edge and stroke horizontally.
  • Add white strokes to the trees here and there for highlights – with a dry brush (not too much paint).
  • Add white streaks vertically. Paint a few streaks and then with a dry brush, spread them out and blend them, so the blue shows through. This gives the background depth and makes it look more wintery.

 

I was really happy with how it came out and happy to hang it over the couch. I’m already planning another acrylic painting. Let me know if you give it a try!

Supplies:

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek! The perfect gift for beach lovers.

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!

 

Advertisements


10 Comments

Painting the Ocean with White Gouache

Painting the ocean with white gouache #painting #gouache #ocean #waves

As I wrote about in my last post, I began painting the ocean in January. As is customary with watercolor, I was leaving the white of the paper bare for the white areas of my painting or I would remove paint with a damp brush or blot with a towel. This preplanning of what areas should be white at the start of the painting was proving difficult for me. And the white paper seemed too flat for the foam areas of the ocean.

So one day I opened up the white gouache…and everything changed for me. Gouache is more opaque than watercolor. You can paint over other colors even with white.

Compare the foam areas here:

To the foam here:
Watercolor beach landscape by Eileen McKenna

Eureka! I can add an underlying area of dark water, then add the white gouache on top. I can use a wet brush and blend the white with darker areas to soften it. I can add shadows on top of the white gouache and then add more gouache on that. I can “build up the layers” – which is the description of watercolor painting that always runs through my head while I work. It’s probably something my watercolor teacher once said.

A favorite foam painting – Surf Camp #1
 "A Cloudy Day at Surf Camp"

Lots of white gouache work here:
Crashing Wave by Eileen McKenna
See more of my seascape paintings here.

The small box of gouache paints I have contains cyan, magenta, yellow, white, and black. It is considered a “mixing box” – from it you can mix any colors. I think I bought it because I heard about gouache and wanted to try it. But it remained mostly unused until this year. The white is called Primary White. Since I’ve been using the white quite often it is running out. When I went to order a new tube of white – several different whites gouaches came up online – Zinc, Permanent, etc. I wondered, “What was the difference?” The comments on this online page shed a little bit of light, but mostly made me think – stick with what works. Primary white is considered good for mixing, which considering the box it came in makes sense. I don’t mix it much before using it, but I do blend it with other colors on the page as I paint. Let me know if you try painting the ocean with white gouache.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek! The perfect gift for beach lovers.

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


12 Comments

My 11 month long project – Painting the Ocean

I paint the ocean in watercolor. Eileen McKenna

After participating in three separate month long challenges in 2016, I saw how focusing on a single theme or medium can lead to real progress in ideas or skills or both. So when I completed the last challenge I decided to focus January (2017) on figuring out how to paint the ocean. I often wondered, “How do you capture the ocean in paint?” I was determined to find out! January led to February and on and on, and I’m still painting the ocean! I’ve progressed in so many areas, but am finding new areas to strive for. The ocean is an amazing subject because it changes so much.

Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas which is 11″ x 14″, at shop.eileenmckenna.com. The perfect gift for the beach lover in your life!

I grew up just blocks from the beach and now live a 10 minute car ride away. It is truly my favorite place. When I began making real progress with my ocean paintings, I felt I had found my thing. As 2017 winds down, I don’t anticipate stopping. If anything I can’t wait to drive down to the beach and take some new reference photos!

Eileen McKenna

That’s me on the left, age 3 or 4, with my first best friend Nancy.

Sign up here for my newsletter “My Creative Collection.” It’s all about what is inspiring me in hopes of inspiring you!

Photo of me with the “mini” canvas by Dawn Herlihy Reilly.

 


6 Comments

Giving the gift of art

Side surfer watercolor print by Eileen McKenna #coastalart
I went to a party the other night and as a gift for the person of honor, I framed a print of my “Side Surfer” watercolor painting. While in the process of framing the print, I began questioning my idea. It’s one thing to offer your art for sale – people are free to buy it or not. But if you give it to someone, you are assuming they’d want it. When I realized I had to cut a custom size mat, I almost gave up and ran to the store for a generic gift. But I kept going and in the end was happy with the result. And my friend seemed to like it. 😊

I’ve added new watercolor paintings to my shop! Prints are available at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a look!


4 Comments

Capturing the Light

“Light” by Eileen McKenna - capturing the light when painting in watercolors #coastalart #coastalinteriors
I’ve been painting the ocean for most of this year. Each painting is a learning experience – getting better in some aspects, struggling in others, and discovering new areas to strive to capture. As I got better with the form of the wave, the movement of the water, the foam,  I experimented with textured cloudy skies. And I’m always working towards mixing the perfect color for the ocean – which is different in every reference photo!

A new goal surfaced – to better capture the light. I struggled with it in areas of a few paintings, and wasn’t happy with the results. I picked the reference photo for the painting above because it was all about the light. That’s why I’m calling this one “Light.” I’m proud of the results.

If you’d like to order a print of this painting or any of my other watercolors click here.


6 Comments

Stages of a watercolor wave painting

Stages of a watercolor wave painting By Eileen McKenna
It felt good the other morning to sit and paint. I didn’t have any ongoing paintings, so first I set up several boards – taping the watercolor paper down. For this painting I worked with the paper still stuck to the pad – not as effective as taping it down, but I ran out of boards.

I started 4 paintings in one sitting, using two reference photos. The goal of painting two from the same photo was to do one version that was a quicker less detailed version. Although I can’t say this will actually happen this time around.

It’s always easier for me to sit and paint when I have a painting in progress, especially if I don’t let too much time pass between working on it. And since you need to allow time for the layers to dry, I like having at least two paintings to work on at once.

When I came home later in the day, the paintings were on my mind, so I picked one to work on some more. I ended up focusing solely on this one and finished it by the end of the day.

Here are the stages:

First layer:
Stages of a watercolor painting. Painting waves by Eileen McKenna

Second layer. I needed to darken things up a bit.
Stages of a watercolor painting. Painting waves by Eileen McKenna

Third layer. Still tweaking the color of the ocean. Started added the foam.
Stages of a watercolor painting. Painting waves by Eileen McKenna

Fourth layer – more foam. After this I added more color to the sky.
Stages of a watercolor painting. Painting waves by Eileen McKenna

Prints of my watercolors are available at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Come visit!

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.


2 Comments

Stop, don’t ruin it! There is always the next painting.

Watercolor painting by Eileen McKenna
Last week I was finishing up a painting and kept noticing what I’ll call weaknesses – areas I wanted to better capture. In an effort to improve the painting I kept tweaking it. In the end I overworked it and should have left it the way it was.

I’m learning that as you paint, especially the same subject, you find new areas that you want to improve on. At first, when I started focusing on painting the ocean, my goal was to capture the water – the waves, the shadows, the movement. As I got better at that, I focused on making the foam look more realistic. Then it was adding more interest to the sky. Not just painting a blue sky, but clouds, and light from one direction. I even did two paintings that the clouds are almost the focal point. Now my goal is to capture the way the light hits the water.

This sliding scale means that with each painting I may achieve a previous goal, but a new one is likely to reveal itself. With the last painting I should have quit while I was ahead. With this painting, I stopped myself. I did accomplish more than the last, and there is always the next painting.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

I’ve added three new watercolor ocean paintings to my shop! Prints are available at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a look!


2 Comments

Flowers – Inktober Day 19-20

Roses with white gel pen #inktober
Day 20 – Roses. I decided to change things up and pulled out my white gel pen for these sketches. I should use it more. I like the look of it on a darker paper.

Zinnia by Eileen McKenna
Day 19 – Zinnia. I started this with a watercolor background – working from a photo I found in the U.K. Country Living magazine. Then I added the ink details and a more color.
Watercolor

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

I’ve added three new watercolor ocean paintings to my shop! Prints are available at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a look!

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


Leave a comment

Three New Ocean Watercolor Paintings

September was especially beautiful at the beach this year. It stayed warm much longer than usual. The surf was often very rough because of the hurricanes brewing far from shore. Here are three watercolors I painted from photos taken last month. And I took a ton more photos to last me through the winter!

These three September paintings are now available for sale as prints on watercolor paper or gallery wrapped canvas. Click here to visit my online shop.

West by Eileen McKenna | Watercolor seascape #coastalinteriors

West

September by Eileen McKenna | Watercolor seascape #coastalinteriors

September

Yellow Sky by Eileen McKenna | Watercolor seascape #coastalinteriors

Yellow Sky

All of the prints in my shop are available on watercolor paper or gallery wrapped canvas!
Click here to visit my online shop.
Blue Wave #11 Canvas Print by Eileen McKenna | Watercolor seascapes #coastalinteriors


9 Comments

Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners

Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn watercolor techniques! #winter #forest #watercolor #beginners

This forest painting is very easy and you’ll learn several watercolor techniques along the way! For best results when painting with watercolor use watercolor paper. I used Arches 140 lb. cold pressed for this project.

Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners

Step 1 – Use painter’s tape to mask the trees. I cut the tape for the smaller branches. Notice some of my tape strips don’t go all the way to the bottom of the paper.

Step 2 – Using a very wet brush and the color of your choice paint parts of the area not covered by the tape – except the bottom of the paper. No need to be too careful, the tape will protect the tree areas.

Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners

Step 3 – Use a different color and paint around the first color, touching the first color so the colors bleed into each other. Leave the bottom area.

Step 4 – Use a brush that is less wet (less water) and more saturated paint and dip it in several areas. You can splash it too.

Step 5 – Paint the bottom area with grey – using a dry brush for a textured uneven look.

Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners

Step 5 – Using black or grey, add detail strokes to the trees. A flat brush works best. If the stroke is too defined go over with a wet brush (water no paint) to soften.

Step 6 – Sprinkle salt in parts of the wet areas. Wait for paint to dry.

Step 7 – When paint is dry, brush salt off the painting.

Step 8 – Peel up the tape slowly, being careful not to rip the paper.

Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners

Step 9 – Once the painting is completely dry use a thin black marker or pen – I use a Uniball signo gel pen – to outline the trees. I made my lines wobbly to look more natural.

Good job! I’d love to see. Tag me on Instagram @eileenmckenna.

Watercolor techniques used:

  • Masking areas with tape
  • Wet on wet painting
  • Dry on dry
  • Using salt
  • Softening lines with water

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more about the newsletter here.

Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!