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No Expectations, No Pressure

Practicing watercolor portraits
I’ve learned that creating regularly makes me happy and starting the day by painting sets a great tone for the day. Sometimes I need to create without worrying about the outcome. It’s not always relaxing to sit and create something that you plan on posting or selling.
Practicing watercolor portraits
Sometimes I pick something that’s a challenge for me, like painting the shadows and skin tones of a face in watercolor, and I just sit and paint and practice. I do this almost unintentionally to relieve myself of any pressure to perform. When there is no expectations there is no pressure.

Why do my self portraits look so much like my dad? 😂

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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!

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Two paintings of the same subject

I often start and work on more than one painting at a time. It’s nice to have another painting to grab when you’ve reached the point with a painting where the newest layer needs to dry. Sometimes I work on more than one painting from the same reference photo. I’m not trying to create duplicate paintings. I’m giving myself the opportunity to try different things, to learn, to explore.

Two paintings of the same subject

The paintings above are from the same photo. In one there is a seagull. The crashing part of the wave is slightly different. Even the color of the sky, the detail of the sand. For me it’s not about which one is better. It’s more about what I learned during the painting process.

See my collection of seascape paintings at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Prints are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes.

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


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Add a notebook to your painting setup

Eileen McKenna watercolor artist
I find it useful to have a small notebook opened next to my palette. This way if I have a thought for a blog post, want to remember which blue I’m using, or whatever, I can just scribble a note to myself. I also write down the date and time of the photo I’m painting from. This way it’s easier to find on my iPad when I sit down again to paint. This saves me a lot of time.

Curious what my favorite art supplies are? Read
 

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!


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Watercolor Skies

Blue Wave #11 by Eileen McKenna https://shop.eileenmckenna.com/

Blue Wave #11

Prints available at shop.eileenmckenna.com.

When I first started painting my seascapes, the skies were simple blue gradations, with the lightest blue closest to the horizon. With each seascape painting I started playing a bit more with the sky – trying to achieve the perfect sky blue, adding other colors as a glow on the horizon, adding a bit of texture for clouds.

Then I did two painting with gray cloudy skies, which were a lot of fun.

Surf Camp 1 by Eileen McKenna https://shop.eileenmckenna.com/

Surf Camp 1

Surf Camp 2 by Eileen McKenna https://shop.eileenmckenna.com/

Surf Camp 2

Now more often than not, I’m adding colors and texture to my skies, like in these recent paintings.

Watercolor Seascape "November 1" by Eileen McKenna

November 1 by Eileen McKenna

Watercolor Seascape "November 2" by Eileen McKenna

November 2 by Eileen McKenna

I’m still striving to find the perfect mix of blue for “sky blue,” especially to capture those bright blue sky, summer days.

I even searched online for “best watercolor blue for the sky” and found a great post on Scratchmade Journal by Tonya, who experimented and discovered,
“almost any combination of blues can be used to create a realistic sky in watercolor, but no single blue worked well alone.”

See all my seascape paintings and compare the skies at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14.”

 

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Start with basic brushstrokes

Watercolor setup. Eileen McKenna. #artist #setup
It has been over a week since I last painted – gasp! Work has been busy and I could make other excuses. Things haven’t slowed down, BUT this morning instead of diving right in I thought, “Sometimes we have to make time for the things that are important to us.”

Brushstrokes

I set up all my stuff – which had been put away to use the dining room table. I turned to a blank page in my sketchbook and grabbed a tray of extra blue paint and started making strokes. I had no thoughts about what I would paint. Then I grabbed a fan brush and started playing with that. The strokes reminded me of beach grass.

Beach walkway sketch

Next thing I’m doing a watercolor sketch of the path down to the beach. The jump from no idea to an inspired idea was so quick. So don’t wait for an idea to strike! Sit down, set up, start with some basic lines or brushstrokes. Who knows where it will lead!

I’m so proud that after a year of painting the ocean, there are 21 paintings in my shop,  available as prints on watercolor paper or canvas. Browse them all at shop.eileenmckenna.com.

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Watercolor Painting “Must Haves”

Painting “Must Haves” #watercolor #supplies #beginner

I’ve joined in on the fun with Mollie Makes magazine, a lifestyle and craft magazine for those who live creatively, and followed the prompts for #molliemakersweek. Today’s prompt was “must haves.” I recommend these products to anyone starting out in watercolor.

My “must haves”

My “making spot”
“Making Spot” #painting

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!

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Filming Your Art Process

Filming Your Art Process #phone #stand
I’m really excited about the gift I recently received. It’s a stand to hold my phone above my work area so I can make a video of my painting process. The stand is called an Akron Kitchen Desk Table Stand.

Previously I would try to hold my phone or iPad in front of me so I could record a short snippet of my process. People seemed to like these videos and also like the posts where I showed the stages of a painting. Recording an entire painting from start to finish seemed like it would be interesting and helpful to share. And in timelapse you could see the entire process of a painting in a few minutes!

Click here to see one of my first videos with the new stand on Instagram. It’s where I add the foam of the ocean. What a difference from the starting point to the end!
Painting sea foam with white gouache #watercolor #ocean

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!

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!


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Taking a step back

Take a step back to view your painting and decide if it’s done.

I like to prop a painting up on the mantle, step back, and look at it from different angles. After working up close it’s a good way to see if it is done. And there’s my tree in the mirror! 🎄

Stages:
Stages of a watercolor ocean painting by Eileen McKenna

Stages of a watercolor ocean painting by Eileen McKenna

Stages of a watercolor ocean painting by Eileen McKenna

Stages of a watercolor ocean painting by Eileen McKenna

Stages of a watercolor ocean painting by Eileen McKenna

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.

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


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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.

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

 


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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!