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Learning Acrylics

Acrylic seascape by Eileen McKenna

In May I switched from painting in watercolor to painting acrylic seascapes. I painted ten 12” x 12” canvases – intent on getting comfortable with the different medium. It was so frustrating in the beginning, but with each painting I learned something. I’ve pulled out the acrylics again – this time with bigger canvases, and I’m reminded of what I learned so far.

What I’ve learned about acrylics:

  • A coat of gesso makes the paint go on easier
  • When your brush starts to split – you need more water
  • When your brush is drippy – that’s too much water
  • Blend the colors next to each other for a more natural look
  • Blending works best when both colors are wet
  • It is better to work when the paint on the canvas is wet and you have plenty of your colors mixed and ready
  • Add highlights by adding white paint (or lighter paint) to your brush and blending it with the wet paint on the canvas
  • To thin the paint and overlay colors use  acrylic gel medium.
  • Use little canvases (or a canvas pad) to test color mixes
  • Painting in acrylic involves more set up and prep than watercolor. And more clean up.
  • Using a sheet from a palette pad – taped to your palette – makes clean up easier!
  • It is not as easy with acrylics to make a quick fix or change
  • Using painter’s tape for a straight horizon line presents some challenges. The paint can accumulate at the tape creating an edge.

Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.

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Know your Subject

Knowing your subject when painting | painting the ocean
I often think about an online class I took by Val Webb called “Drawing Children.” At the time, I was amazed at how well Val knows the nuances of the faces and figures of children. Now as I paint the ocean – almost exclusively, mostly in watercolor, but recently in acrylics – I think about not just the techniques to make the painting look realistic, but the characteristics of the ocean.

As I was painting the water, specifically the foam at high tide, I was painting and pulling back the strokes, because I was thinking about how the water is being pulled back by the tide. This is something you wouldn’t know just by looking at a photo. All the time I’ve spent at the beach might be making a difference in my painting. Last summer, after painting the ocean all winter, I looked and observed the water differently than before.

Work in progress where I was “pulling back”
Know your subject - painting the ocean

My son recently asked if I was going to paint anything else. I guess to him, every painting is similar. To me I’m learning with each painting. The ocean looks so different at different times and different angles. I’m sticking with the ocean, and I’m currently challenging myself by working to capture this amazing subject in acrylics.

Click here to view my collection of watercolor seascapes. 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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Making the Transition from Watercolor to Acrylic – Week 1

Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic
Final acrylic work for week 1.

I’m happy with the results and learned a lot this week as I try painting in acrylic after working for so long in watercolor. Admittedly, the first day in my acrylic challenge was frustrating.

I’m so used to working in watercolor where:

  • A little paint goes a long way
  • Water lightens color
  • Paint goes on the paper so easily, especially wet paper with a wet brush
  • You need just a cup or two of water for brush cleaning
  • One paper towel is all you need to occasionally dry a brush

Day 1 with acrylics:

  • The paint wasn’t going on smoothly
  • I was brushing off paint and creating messy clumps
  • I had to change out my cups of water frequently
  • My paint mixes were so dark I had to mix in a lot of white

Lessons learned the first day:

  • Mix in a little water for smoother brushing (helpful site: www.artisfun.com)
  • Perhaps apply gesso prior to painting (recommended by above website)
  • Let layers dry to avoid brushing off paint and creating clumps
  • Have lots of rags handy!

Day 2 with acrylics:
Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic

  • Mixing in a little water helped. Paint went on smoothly.
  • When I want to create a fade in watercolor, I apply the color and then use water to fade it out. Doing this in acrylic, adding too much water, creates a strange look and I worry it will rub off.

Overall, I was proud of my progress on Day 2.

Day 3:
Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic

  • Similar struggle with how to fade colors (without too much water)
  • Struggled with mixing the right color for the sand

Lessons learned on Day 4. (I combined painting with watching instructional YouTube videos.)

  • Fading colors. This video was very helpful regarding fading:.
  • How much is too much water? This video answered my question on mixing in water. 80% paint, 20% water max.

I’m still trying to figure out the right color mixes, especially sand, which is ironic because back at the beginning of my blog (2014), I was painting in acrylic and trying to figure out what color sand is! Overall I’m happy with my progress and am looking forward to learning more next week!

Click here to view my collection of watercolor seascapes. 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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May Acrylic Canvas Project

May Acrylic Canvas Project! Painting seascapes
I’m so excited about my May project! After painting watercolor seascapes for over a year, I’m adding acrylic and canvas to my routine. I’ve purchased 10 canvases and plan on completing them by the end of the month.

I’ve painted in acrylics on and off over the years, but never enough to feel completely comfortable. Since starting my watercolor seascape project (almost a year and a half ago) I’ve wanted to try my techniques on canvas, and did try it once. The transition wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The colors I mixed weren’t quite right, and I felt uncomfortable painting at an easel – I’m used to working flat at a table with watercolor.

I decided to do a few things to make my Acrylic Seascape project easier:

A comfortable size. I purchased 12” x 12” canvases – a size I often work in with watercolor. This smaller size will be more manageable on a table, since I plan on working flat.

Shorter handled brushes. The acrylic brushes I have are probably designed for painting on an easel, but the longer handles feel awkward when painting at a table. I bought a new set of brushes with shorter handles.

Familiar colors. I bought new paints in the same colors I use for mixing my ocean and sand colors in watercolor.

A focused time period. My watercolor seascape project began as a month long project. Focusing on one thing, brought results quickly – I learned a lot and my technique improved. I’m hoping my plan of working on these 10 canvases over the month, yields similar results.

Following my seascape process. Over the past year and a half I’ve developed a process for painting seascapes. I plan on following my process, using my techniques, and learning along the way how to adapt it all to acrylic paint.

wish me luck!

Click here to view my collection of watercolor seascapes. 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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Revisiting an unfinished painting.

girldiggingnew
I’ve been playing around with what I’m calling a “practice canvas” (see below) – a painting I never finished, didn’t like where it was going, and recently started mindlessly dabbling with (on). I’ve enjoyed this. While I’m comfortable with watercolor, acrylics still feel new to me. Playing around with this “practice canvas” has pulled me back to acrylics and to another unfinished painting.

Here’s the practice canvas, although now it is unrecognizable!
  practice1 practice2

Looking through my other canvases, I found an unfinished painting I call “Little Girl Digging.” Even though, I was happy with progress on this painting at the time, I set it aside. Probably because after “sketching” out the figure I wasn’t confident on how to proceed.
girldiggingrev

So this past weekend, I decided to work on it again. I wanted to see if I could get the little girl to pop off the sand. I had some success (first picture in this post), so I’m motivated to continue working on it. We’ll see! 🙂


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Easy Acrylic Beach Painting

beachaerial
I needed something to hang on the bare wall over the couch. I had the idea to create an aerial view of the beach on two canvases. I wanted it to be very simple – 2 areas of solid color. The area where they meet would have a little more detail to hint that it is a beach shot from above.

Here’s my sketch and the acrylic paint colors I selected – Buff White and Cobalt Teal. Similar paints Windsor & Newton Buff Titanium and Liquitex Cobalt TealYou’ll also need a small amount of white.
beachacrylicaa
I put two 20 x 24″ canvases together to sketch where the shoreline would be and to ensure the canvases line up.
beachacrylic1
I painted each of the solid areas. 
beachacrylic2

Then, I added a thin layer of the blue over about 2″ of the sand nearest the shoreline. This is the shallow area of the ocean. At the edge of this area (and the sand) I added a thin uneven line of white for the ocean’s foam.

I was really happy with the results! Let me know if you give it a try.
overcouch

This 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!

Have you read:
Six Ways to bring the Beach into your Home https://mycreativeresolution.com/2017/05/19/six-ways-to-brin…h-into-your-home/ Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor 14 tips on painting waves in watercolor
Easy steps to paint a sunset sky and a tree in acrylic paints

Easy Acrylic Beach Painting anyone can make!


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What I’ve learned in the 2nd half of 2014 (about myself and art)

joy
At the 6 month mark of My Creative Resolution I wrote a post entitled “What I’ve learned about art (and myself).” As I sat down to write this, I reread that post, and I realized a lot of those items are still the important things I’ve learned this year. But I do have a few items to add. Those “6 month” items were mostly about art. The items I am writing now, are what I’ve learned about myself.

  • I love working square
  • I love adding ink. This is so surprising to me! I used to think adding all those lines seems so tedious, but I’ve found – you get into a zone.
  • Watercolor portraits – soften the edges so the skin doesn’t look blotchy.
  • I love being creative. I love having a project in the works, or ideas for new projects, or both!
  • I’m affected by the seasons. I can’t help being inspired by what is around me, whether it’s Spring flowers, Fall leaves, Winter’s evergreen trees, or a day at the beach.
  • I like being spontaneous and working on what inspires me in the moment. I found my weekly checklist to be too much after a while.
  • In the past I was frustrated with wanting to develop a style. Now, I’m embracing the journey. I’m in no rush, and I’m having fun doing it.
  • I’m no closer to selling and I’m not sure selling is for me. I don’t want to be filling orders or creating sellable things. I want to create what I’m inspired to create.
  • I love blogging – see more below.

What I love about blogging:

  • It motivates me to create.
  • I love working on new projects. Each new idea sparks more and more ideas.
  • I enjoy writing.
  • I like thinking about my process – what worked, what didn’t, what was a happy accident, or a mistake to learn from.
  • I love the community and feedback.
  • I’m inspired by and learn from other bloggers and I am honored when someone says I do that for them.

I am bursting at the seams with ideas for making My Creative Resolution better, for me and you, in 2015. I hope you’ll join me as my creative journey continues. 🙂


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Forgotten Projects

forgottenprojectsjar
I love starting a new project, but inevitably my enthusiasm wanes and it’s hard to stick with and finish the project . As I look back on my creative projects this year, I’m surprised there aren’t more abandoned projects. I know the reason why. It’s because of you! If I was working privately and not filling you in on all the details, I would be a lot less motivated to finish. So thank you!

I’m of two minds on forgotten projects. One part of me wants to finish them. But the other part of me, thinks I should work on what inspires me. A happy medium between these two “minds” is probably the answer. So, as part of My Creative Resolution 2015, I will (every so often) select a forgotten project and finish it.

I can’t promise I’ll pick these projects at random, or how often I’ll do this – but I do promise to keep you posted. 😉

A few forgotten and unfinished projects from 2014
Dandelion, acrylic 
dandelion

Girl Digging, acrylic
girldiggingrev

Beach Girl, illustration style in progress. Last version – watercolor
beachgirl3

A few abandoned watercolors:
abandonedw

and

A Mirror (that’s buried in the garage), that I was going to sand and paint the frame in an interesting way. It’s been there since June.

BTW – I refuse to add to the “forgotten” list – Christmas Dioramas and House/Door Paintings because I will work on these again! If I remember.


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Painting Wooden Signs

woodproject
Finally, I’m tackling a wood project! I’ve been interested in painting on wood, and creating handmade signs. It was surprisingly easy to walk in to Ace, pick out wood and ask them to cut it. And cheap!

I pulled out the hand sander, which made me feel like a pro, and gave the wood a light sanding. Then I added streaks of different colors and blended them, sometimes adding water to dilute a color. I wanted to create a bleached, weathered look.

wooda woodb wood woodc
I’m happy with how they came out. See how I added lettering to them here.


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Back to School – Back to Acrylics

girldiggingrev
I’m looking forward to the kids going back to school (lol!) and having more time to paint – especially with acrylics! This week I got a jump start and worked on my painting “Little Girl Digging.” It’s been almost 2 months since I worked on this! If I let too much time pass I lose momentum and then it’s really hard to get back into a painting.

Although I haven’t worked with acrylics all summer, I’ve been creative – sketching, painting with watercolor, etc. I’m proud of all I’ve done during these busy months. It will make September, when the house is quiet again, all the more productive.

Here is where I started from:
girl digging step 3
First I worked on the sand and added some definition to the ocean. Then (above) I added color to the ocean.
girldiggingc