I am so glad I decided to commit to #the100dayproject and decided on the theme of illustrated maps. My decision was a bit spur of the moment, but I’m having so much fun. Since I usually paint for at least 15 minutes every morning, it hasn’t been hard to work on the elements for my map. I decided on Fire Island which is a nearby summer vacation island.
I’ve been to certain parts of the island, including the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse, so I started what I knew. Today I was doing research and learning about other areas of the island and what might represent these areas. It’s a challenge to represent an area, even one you know well. I’d like to do a map of my hometown, but will it be a map of landmarks meaningful to me, or one that is more universal? It’s a hard call. One that I put off by choosing a different location!
I painted the island itself separately and will add the type and map elements in Photoshop. This way I can resize them and move them around as needed. I had to take some liberties with the proportions of the island, because it is very long and thin. To fit it on the page it would have been a single thin line. Instead, I tried to create a perspective shot of the island, focused on the western edge where the lighthouse is.
I’m planning on finishing up this week. Can’t wait to share it. I’ll be moving on to a new and exciting location for the next map!
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Last month I created a map of our important landmarks – our first apt., the church where we got married, the reception, favorite beaches, pizza, where the kids were born. I’ve always aspired to create illustrated maps so for #the100dayproject I am going to work on creating map illustrations. I’m so hesitant to say I’m doing it bc 100 days seems like a long time but I also know that 100 days is the perfect amount of time to hone a skill. I hope you’ll tune in to watch my progress and maybe you’ll be ordering up your own anniversary map towards the end! 🤣
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I’m thankful for today’s snow day and the break from everyday life. That and a few days of sketching figures gave me the push to finally finish this beach scene with the three girls playing in the surf. I’ve been afraid to finish this one – afraid of ruining it. As I sat down to work on it, I thought, “Done is better than unfinished, no matter what the result.” And the more I work on painting figures, and getting the shadows right, the more I’ll learn.
When I think about the progress I’ve made in the past two months, there are a few things that standout out to me. First watching videos of other artists painting waves gave me some great tips (which I wrote about here.)
Second, one of the artists was using a flat brush so I bought a couple to try. The smaller flat brush has become invaluable to me.
Lastly, when I started using white gouache for the foam of the waves it was a turning point.
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There is a real benefit to painting the same subject over and over. You get better at it, and after trying different things, over time you develop a process. You develop a series a steps that you follow every time you paint.
Process for painting watercolor seascapes
Here is a summary of my process. Keep reading for links to more in depth resources.
Mix seascape colors – I mix blues, greens, and browns from ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, and cadmium red.
Mark the horizon line. I use painter’s tape to achieve a straight horizon line.
Paint the ocean water closest to the horizon darker and bluer.
Paint the water in the cresting wave lighter and greener.
Paint the shallow water near shore brown.
Paint the sand. The sand is darkest closer to the ocean where it is wetter.
Painting this beach heart was as peaceful and relaxing as sitting on the beach itself. Before I sat down to paint I was looking through my work for something to post on Valentine’s Day. I usually don’t post things from my archives – not that there is anything wrong with that. It just sometimes feels disjointed from what I’ve been working on.
With Valentine’s Day and hearts on my mind, I sat down to paint and thought of a beach scene in the shape of a heart. I think practicing, and working out a process for painting the beach, was a great help in painting the heart from start to finish in one sitting. Ah the sense of accomplishment!
I’m proud of the progress I’ve made since starting to paint the beach on January 1st. I feel as if I’m finally capturing the movement of the waves. But something has been missing. Around here on a beautiful summer day the beaches are packed with people. Sometimes we struggle to find a good spot down by the water.
So, I’ve been collecting my photos that include people and trying to incorporate them into my paintings. Last night I did some loose brush sketches.
Today, I worked on refining the water in a painting where I had penciled in several people. Then I erased the pencil lines and using a watercolor pencil drew in the figures so I knew where to add paint. Figures don’t come easy to me and I have to work at a figure to get it right. Watercolor pencils are great because it’s easy to “erase” your lines by wetting them. You can mix the lines into the other colors or absorb them onto your brush.
I’m hoping if I focus on beach bodies for a while, I’ll see progress, like I’ve seen with my waves.
Here’s my favorite wave painting so far.
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This month I worked almost daily painting the beach. It’s a place that is very close to my heart. I grew up just a few blocks away from it. My mom referred to it as our backyard. I played there, I worked there, and eventually brought my own kids there.
I learned a lot this month. I’ve tried different techniques to capture the foam of the ocean – leave the white of the paper, use a white gel pen, use lots of white gouache. I’ve used different blues in my ocean mixture. I painted landscapes, as well as people close up. But, I feel it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more for me to learn and explore within this theme. So, not surprisingly, I’m continuing with my beach painting project. It probably would have been better to declare this a 100 day project from the start. Although that would have been a bit intimidating.