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Painting on the road – travel watercolor set

Painting on the road - travel watercolor set
Whenever I travel I bring my watercolors with me. I have a compact travel set that is the perfect amount of colors. Painting while on vacation is a great way to experience a place. I take photos while I’m out with my family and paint during downtime at the hotel. You notice so much more when you are painting something. I’ve painted in NY, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and even France.

I work in a small Canson sketchbook with nice thick watercolor paper and paint small scenes and illustrations. This time I brought a few brushes – older ones because sometimes they get bent in my bag. I’d like to get a brush holder like this one.

Another fun thing to do is visit the local art store. I’m eyeing one up around the corner from where we are staying.

Painting during vacation reaffirms my regular creative practice. It’s common before vacation to be busy and not have time. Painting during a trip gets me back in the groove.

Ready to get started in watercolor? Check out “Beginner Watercolor Exploration.” 

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises and projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

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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Watercolor Basics ~ Paper (5 Tips)

It’s Back to School time, so I thought it would be a great time to go back to basics, Watercolor Basics. Let’s talk about paper. When I first started out in watercolor I was using the wrong paper. Watercolor paper is specially designed for watercolor paint – it has texture, absorbs the paint, and can withstand a good amount of “working” at your painting before the paper starts to break down.

I resisted at first because I wanted a very white paper. I was using a paper that had a coating on it and the coating was preventing the paper from absorbing the paint. Eventually I found watercolor papers that were the cool white I wanted. Once I made the switch I realized what a difference the paper actually makes. 

I now use cold pressed paper. What does that mean? According to watercoloraffair.com,

“In a nutshell, the terms “hot press” and “cold press” refer to the paper’s surface finish or texture. Cold pressed paper has a slightly bumpy, textured surface. But hot pressed paper has a smooth surface finish. You will also hear artists talking about the tooth of the paper.”

The paper I use most often is Fluid Easy Block Fluid Watercolor Blocks, most often the 9″ x 12″ size.

Watercolor Paper Tips:

  • Always use watercolor paper or a multimedia paper – this is the multimedia sketchbook I use.
  • Before I paint, I trim my paper to 9″ x 11″. This creates a painting that fits nicely in mats and frames for 8″ x 10″ artwork. Before I started trimming the paper my paintings were too long for the mats and too much wasn’t visible in a standard mat. I use this mat set for 8″ x 10″ artwork. It includes the mat, backing board, and a clear bag to protect your matted artwork.
  • Always tape down your paper to a board using painter’s tape. I use the cardboard back of old art pads. The cardboard needs to be larger than your paper.I use a painter’s tape like this one. I prefer tape that is less than an inch wide. The reason for taping down your paper is that water and paint causes paper to buckle. Taping your paper to a board helps keep the paper flat.

  • It is important to use the correct side of the paper. The side facing up when you take a sheet off the pad. If you have trouble keeping track – make a small pencil x mark on the back side of the paper.
  • Even though the paper is made for watercolor — Don’t rub your brush too hard or the paper will start to come apart. This can also happen when you overwork a section of your painting.

Other Watercolor Basics posts: 
Brushes: What types of brushes should you use?
Paint: What type of paint should you use?

Ready to get started in watercolor? Check out “Beginner Watercolor Exploration.”

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises and projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

Start your watercolor journey today! Learn more here.

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor

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!
Watercolor Basics ~ Paper | What type of paper should you use and other tips for painting with watercolor


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Watercolor Sunsets

Watercolor Sunset by Eileen McKenna | painting in watercolor

It’s been a summer of sunsets. I’ve been teaching the kids at the art center how to paint watercolor sunsets – showing them some of the color possibilities, and how to blend the colors. I encourage them to choose their own color combinations and I love seeing how different their skies are from one another. 

I’ve also been admiring virtual sunsets on Instagram and using some of those photos to paint from. The painting above is inspired by Heidi of @yankeeinsc. Heidi’s photos of sunset skies in South Carolina and the reflections are spectacular. Be sure to visit her on Instagram. 

I’ve also painted from photos taken closer to home. From the account of @sunnydog41 and @charmychar. It’s fun to make the personal connection when you paint someone’s photo. Soon we are going on a short road trip and I’m excited to take my own photos!

Explore your creativity. Learn watercolor.
Learn Watercolor, Explore your Creativity at shop.eileenmckenna.com.


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Just 10 Minutes

Back to painting in watercolor

Sometimes life gets in the way of creativity and we are running around doing other things. Between teaching art and finalizing my new Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide, I haven’t had time to paint. Well maybe I’ve had time, but not the motivation. Every time I walk past my paints – set up at the family room table – and see the blank sketchbook page I think, “I have to paint today,” and then I keep walking.

Today is the day. Just 10 minutes is enough to get me back into painting. Now I’m excited. I have plenty of reference photos on my phone – things that have been inspiring me, including surf from the recent tropical storm. I’m halfway to my paints already.

Ready to get started in watercolor? Check out “Beginner Watercolor Exploration.”

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises and projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

Start your watercolor journey today! Learn more here.

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor


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For the Love of Watercolor

For the love of watercolor   | watercolor for beginners how to guide

Over a decade ago as a young mom, I took a drawing class followed by a watercolor class. A few years later, I got serious about creating everyday and started my blog. I set out to explore every medium in search of my thing. The early days of my blog involved pencil sketches and working with acrylics. Then one day I decided to add color to my sketchbook and pulled out my watercolors. BAM! It hit me – I loved watercolor! I never put them away again.

Over the last few years I have developed watercolor painting projects and other learning resources in PDF and video form. Today I’m super excited to announce my new guide called “Beginner Watercolor Exploration.”

Ready to get started in watercolor? Check out “Beginner Watercolor Exploration.”

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises and projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

Start your watercolor journey today! Learn more here.

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor

What’s in the downloadable pdf guide: 5 chapters, 5 painting projects, 50 pages.

The exercises and painting projects walk you through and build upon the fundamentals of watercolor. 

The 5 painting projects include:

  1. Starfish Painting
  2. Birch Tree Forest Painting
  3. Ice Cream Cones Painting
  4. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake Illustration
  5. Seascape Painting

Start your watercolor journey today! Learn more here.


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Learning from Others

My painting from Megan Elizabeth’s Acrylic Seascape class

I love watercolor – how you can add more and more water, how easily it spreads on the paper. I occasionally paint with acrylics but find myself struggling with them. They don’t spread as easily and you can’t add too much water because it breaks down the paint. Last weekend I took an online acrylic class “Acrylic Painting: Abstract Landscapes” with Megan Elizabeth, which focused on painting a seascape.

Often I try to figure things out myself, but I thought it would be a fun project for the weekend and might provide some insight into my own struggles with acrylics. The class, which is suitable for beginners, is easy to follow. I enjoyed learning how someone else approaches painting a seascape – which is my favorite subject. The biggest take away for me was observing the paints Megan uses – which are much more fluid than the heavy body ones I have. And she doesn’t mix her colors. She blends on the canvas. I’m always struggling with mixing the right color and then running out and not having enough. Definitely food for thought when I try my next seascape canvas.

Taking a class often reveals nuggets that can enhance your own art practice. They might not even be a key element to the lesson, but have value to you at for where you are in your art practice. I’ll never forget taking Val Webb’s Drawing Children class where she explained the nuances of a child’s face. I realized drawing (or painting) something involves knowing your subject really, really well. I applied this lesson to seascapes and spent more time observing the ocean.  

Ultimately we take advice from others and roll it into the way we prefer to do things. I’ve been watching YouTube videos on how to hold a brush and they reveal differing opinions. It’s good to know other options on how do things and then you can decide what works best for you.

Final painting from my Watercolor Seascape Painting online Class


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Exploring new creative things

I was sewing the other day. Trying to make a few new masks. Sewing is a new thing for me. I’ve tried it here and there over the years but waited so long in between that it always felt like starting over. Now that I’ve been doing it more regularly, I’m getting the hang of it. There isn’t as much of a struggle.

As I sewed I wondered what new things – art, craft, baking, etc. – I would carry on with after quarantine is over? Based on what I see online, lots of people are trying their hand at new things – baking bread, painting, etc. or getting back to things they used to enjoy – puzzles, game night, taking walks, etc. What will we take with us into the new normal of life?

The silver lining in self quarantine is that some of us have had this time to explore things we normally don’t have time to explore. A friend of my sister’s messaged me and said she hadn’t painted in decades, but wanted to try again and asked what paint and tutorials I recommended. Often it is hard to know where to start.

How do you know what medium to begin with? How do you find an art medium that speaks to you? I went through this myself when I started My Creative Resolution. Throughout the process of exploration painting in watercolor was what rose to the top. For you it may be something totally different. But how do you find your thing?

I’ve developed a process for you to follow, that walks you through trying things, while developing a regular practice of creativity. Fifteen minutes a day can be sufficient! We start with the basics, no fancy supplies needed, and slowly work up to trying other mediums. There is room for your interests here. After all, your exploratory journey should be based on you!

Ready to get started? Download the “Creative Exploration” ebook or order a paperback copy on Amazon today. Click here for more information. Your creative journey awaits!

Start now by clicking here!

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice

Want to be creative | How to be creative | How to develop an art practice


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What is holding you back from creativity?

Sometimes the hardest part (of anything) is starting. So many things can hold you back – fear, uncertainty, a lack of confidence. It’s important to take stock of those things so they don’t slow you down.

Since I was young I’ve loved art, but like many people, I got away from it. But the desire to be creative stuck with me, even if it was dormant for a long time. It wasn’t until I had a career and family before the desire was stronger than all the things holding me back.

Before I started my creative journey, I looked at those things holding me back. I was able to shift my way of thinking. It wasn’t about what other people thought about my abilities and what I might make, it was about me, and my love for creating. There would always be people who didn’t like what I made. This shift in thinking freed me up to move forward.

I’ve never looked back and never regretted committing time and energy to creativity. It fills me up and brings me so much joy!

Are you ready to get started? The first step in my book “Creative Exploration” is Creative Reflection. Uncover what I’d holding YOU back so you can start YOUR creative journey. Start now by clicking here!

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice
Start your creative journey today!

What is holding you back from creativity? Start an art practice Explore creativity


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Monet inspired watercolors

Monet inspired watercolor by Eileen McKenna

Last week I wrote about how I needed a “project” to inspire and motivate me. I was sitting down to paint less and less. I thought a two week project would be good – not too long, but long enough that there might be some progress in this pandemic situation. Last week’s post includes the steps to pick a project – read it here.

When I developed my 4 week “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program I dedicated one week to painting like the masters. Each week of the program is a different theme – Parisian Food, the Architecture, the Masters, the Palace of Versailles. During the masters week, we paint like Monet. I loved this project! I found painting with Monet’s color palette to be so interesting. And so when I picked my new project, I chose to paint like Monet.

Originally my plan was to paint anything, and work in Monet’s palette. That has morphed into painting his paintings. Today I painted the Waterlilies and the Japanese Bridge. It was so fun!

This kind of project makes me feel like I’m working on a school project – researching, learning. I love that my work over the next 2 weeks won’t be random, but will have a theme to tie it together.

If you are looking for a project, the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program is a great deep dive into Paris. I learned so much about Paris and I share it all. I grew so much as an artist during the program! Real growth happens when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. Learn more here.


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Time and learning new things during quarantine

Happy Face Mask Fabric Design | Sew your own mask!

I remember a saying when I was a kid, “You can be anything you set your mind to.” During self quarantine I’ve been thinking a lot about time. I think the saying really should be “You can be anything (or do anything) you set your TIME to.”

As I pursue new things – some out of curiosity, some out of necessity, some out of both – I realize now more than ever how important time is. Time waiting for the dough to rise. Time practicing sewing to make masks. Taking my time giving my husband a haircut.

Setting our mind to something, having a goal or intention, is important but it’s only the first step. Spending time working on something is the essential ingredient. Each time I bake bread I learn more about the process. The more I sit down to sew, the less it feels like starting over. I threaded the bobbin again today!

I have more time these days. I think it’s important to be intentional about what I spend my time on. I can do anything!

“Smiles Happy Face Mask” Fabric is available in my Spoonflower shop. Browse all my fabric designs here.