my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design


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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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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!

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
PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

U.S. orders only.

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
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. 😉


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Tips on painting waves in watercolor

It is so helpful watching instructional videos and seeing someone break down their steps as they paint. After watching three short videos on painting waves, I came away with several tips.

  • Determine what direction the light is coming from
  • Create the waves with dark and light areas.
  • Where is the detail in the painting? And therefore where is the eye drawn to? Contrasts also draw the eye.
  • Keep slivers of white (the paper) which suggests waves in the distance. Add dark areas in front of these.
  • Blotting with a tissue can create the spray of a wave
  • Dark edges makes the foam look thicker
  • Wet sand has blue in it
  • Horizontal strokes in your painting make things look flatter – use a flat brush
  • Use other colors in the sky, not just blue
  • There is a reflection in things that are wet and shiny – like wet sand
  • The position of the horizon line effects the vantage point of the painting (where you are standing on the beach)
  • The water is greener closer to the shore
  • Colors in a painting – use the same colors throughout your whole painting

As I’ve practiced, I’ve come up with my own tips, including:

  • Use white gouache to add foam areas, spray, waves in the distance, etc.
    Read more about my process for painting the beach here.

Here are links to the videos I watched:

Beach Pin – 1″ soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
Beach Pin - 1" soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!
U.S. orders only.

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 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
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!
14tipswaves


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Week 1 of painting the beach

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I’m really enjoying focusing on painting the beach this month. I kicked it off with a walk on the beach – of course taking lots of photos. I’ve taken the pressure off myself to finish a painting every day and post it. Instead I’m enjoying the process of mixing paints to find the right colors for the ocean and the sand, of starting one painting, and adding details to another, of trying different techniques to capture the depth and movement of the water, and of looking through our old photos to use as reference.

My goal is to sit every day for about an hour and paint or draw the beach. I wrote out a list of prompts, but am only using them as a guide on days I don’t know what to focus on. So far, 6+ days in (I started early), it is very relaxing, but I do worry that without the motivation/accountability to post a final piece, I’ll revert to old habits and not finish anything.

For now I’m going to continue as is. I may not have 6 completed paintings, but I’ve definitely learned a thing or two this week. I can re-evaluate how things are going next week.


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A visit to the beach

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We visited the beach on New Year’s Day. It was the perfect way to kick off my January “painting the beach” project. This is the beach I grew up just a few blocks from. Having the beach as our “backyard” was a special thing that instilled in me a love for the beach and the ocean. It’s no wonder it’s often the subject of my paintings.

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It was a sunny but chilly day.


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What a difference a challenge makes

img_0405Today I grabbed my sketchbook when my son and I left to visit my mom. I never would have thought to bring it, if I wasn’t trying to draw everyday for InkTober.

By the time we arrived at the beach the sky had cleared and it was beautiful out. We walked barefoot in the sand, put our feet in, collected shells, watched the surfers. What a beautiful, peaceful day.

I took several photos to draw from later and did a sketch before we left. 😀

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