My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


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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!

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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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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.


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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.


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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!


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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


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Surf Collection

Surf Camp #1 by Eileen McKenna https://shop.eileenmckenna.com/Surf Camp #2 by Eileen McKenna https://shop.eileenmckenna.com/
Surf Camp is the third collection of watercolor paintings I’ve released as Limited Edition Giclee Art Prints in my online shop. While my previous paintings featured bright blue skies, for these two paintings I had the pleasure of painting dark cloudy skies.

The Green Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints at shop.eileenmckenna.com The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints


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The Green Collection

The Green Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints at shop.eileenmckenna.com
I’ve added six new paintings to my online shop! Four of the paintings are “The Green Collection.” You may remember that in August I launched my shop with “The Blue Collection.” Grouping the paintings by the color of the ocean made perfect sense to me when the giclee printer suggested it. Something that has always fascinated me about the ocean, is how the same water, in the same place, can be different colors at different times.

The Green Collection is the second set of watercolor paintings I’ve released as Limited Edition Giclee Art Prints. Click here to visit my online shop.

The paintings in the Green Collection are (from left to right):

  • Jetty Surfer
  • Breaking Wave
  • Rolling In
  • Windy Day

The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints at shop.eileenmckenna.com


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A Cloudy Day at Surf Camp

The second day my son participated in surf camp was a cloudy day. When I saw my pictures I decided to try to paint the clouds, as many of my ocean paintings have clear blue skies.

"A Cloudy Day at Surf Camp"

Close up of the sky:
Painting a cloudy sky in watercolor

The start:
Painting the ocean in watercolor

Progress on the water:
Painting the ocean in watercolor

As much as I have developed a process for painting the ocean, with each painting I still have to figure things out – mixing the right colors and shades, capturing the details of the waves. It’s still a challenge, but a rewarding one!

Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!
The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints


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Jetty

Jetty by Eileen McKenna, beach watercolor painting available as giclee art prints.
The focus of this painting is the rocks – the jetty. I had fun creating the different shapes and shadows of the rocks. I’m especially proud of the wet look of the sand where the water has just receded. And of course this painting needed a seagull.

The beaches in my hometown are delineated by the jetties. They are an unmistakable characteristic of our beaches. So it seemed appropriate to have them be the star of a painting.

“Jetty” is part of “the Blue Collection” and is available as a Limited Edition Giclee Art Print in my online shop!