My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


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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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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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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!


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Capturing the Ocean in Watercolor

Painting the beach nd ocean in watercolor

I’ve aspired to capture the ocean in watercolor for years. In December I made “painting the beach” my New Year’s project. The snow was falling outside, but I was inside painting waves. With each painting I learned and improved.

Some of my firsts in early January.
Painting waves in watercolor

I watched a few YouTube videos and learned from others (and wrote about it here.)
14 tips on painting waves in watercolor

I tried new tools and supplies and incorporated them into my process.
Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor

I’ve kept with it and over six months later I still often paint the ocean. In some ways I feel like I’ve found my thing.

Yesterday I was standing in the ocean, watching the waves break, watching the foam churned up by the waves wash in and out. It was surreal, like standing in a painting and all I could think about was white gouache.

Original beach watercolor landscape by Eileen McKenna

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/


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Stepping back from a painting

Beach watercolor by Eileen McKenna http://www.mycreativeresolution.com
I was so happy to have time this weekend to start AND finish a new beach painting. On Saturday I painted the first layers.
The start of a beach painting
On Sunday I added the details – more lights, more darks. I use a lot of white gouache!

I wasn’t sure it was done, but I propped the painting up on a shelf and looked at it from across the room. What a difference compared to staring at it up close. From across the room I declared, “It’s done.” 🙂

Have you read:
Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor


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Tips and tools that prove invaluable

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

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

Read:
14 tips on painting waves in watercolor
 Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor


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Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor

Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor
There is a real benefit to painting the same subject over and over. You get better at it, you get faster. I noticed this the other day when I painted a complete beach scene from start to finish in one sitting. I had such a sense of accomplishment! Before this, I was still figuring things out. I often had several paintings going at once, adding details here and there and working on getting the water to look right. This time it was almost easy, I was stunned. How’d I do that? I realized I’d developed a process for painting the beach. I knew the steps to take to achieve a certain look.

My Process for painting the beach:

  1. Colors  – mixes of blue, yellow, and red watercolors
  2. Use painter’s tape to achieve a straight horizon line
  3. Paint the ocean water closest to the horizon darker and bluer
  4. Water in the cresting wave is lighter and greener
  5. Water in front of the wave is a darker shade of the green
  6. Water gets browner – more red – closer to the shore
  7. Add white gouache for foam and spray. More foam closer to shore.
  8. A flat brush helps achieve the horizontal lines that make things appear flat.
  9. Sand is darkest closest to the water
  10. The foam of the breaking wave has shadows in it
  11. Sky is lighter closest to horizon

Give this process for painting the beach a try and let me know how it goes!

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more about the newsletter here.
Exciting News! I’ve released my first set of watercolor paintings as Limited Edition Giclee Art Prints. Visit my online shop at shop.eileenmckenna.com.
The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints

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/ 14tipswaves Easy Acrylic Beach Painting anyone can make! 11 Art Supplies I can't paint without 19 Books for Creatives Easy steps to paint a sunset sky and a tree in acrylic paints

Have you seen the beach pin I designed?
Read about the inspiration behind the pin and the process here.
Beach Pin – 1″ soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
Beach Pin - 1" soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
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This post contains affiliate links to products 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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Adding beach bodies to my paintings

Painting figures on the beachI’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. Painting figures in my sketchbook

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. Painting waves in watercolor

Have your read these posts yet?
 19 Books for Creatives 11 Art Supplies I can't paint without

Some posts contain affiliate links to products I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links. Thank you for supporting my blog!


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Practice practice practice

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My kids are asking why I am painting the same wave over and over. I’m practicing I tell them. My younger son also asked why I was painting the beach and not a snowy scene like what’s outside our window. I’m more into my beach painting project than a week ago. I’m not bored in the least and I feel like I’m learning so much by focusing on the same theme. Of course I don’t want it to be the same painting every time – and it hasn’t been. I did spend time today looking through our old photos for some subjects to paint – at the beach of course. 😉