Eileen McKenna Art & Design

Watercolor Art | Creative Inspiration to help you be creative on a regular basis


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Cutting away the mistake

boardwalkmatted
and I cut my first mat too!
Mom’s painting is finally done. I’ve been struggling with it since Thanksgiving, when she requested it. I love the beach and feel so inspired by it, but I often struggle with trying to paint it. She requested a landscape. Sometimes I think I’m more of a “zoom in” and paint the details type of person. When things are so far back – you can’t even see the details. My attempts at beach paintings often look a little flat and boring. But she asked for it, so what could I say?

I decided this time I’d add ink to the painting and try to incorporate my “still developing” style. I was so nervous to add the first ink marks! You can’t get rid of them or cover them up, the way you can with watercolor. Another challenge for me – perspective! The photo I chose was perfect for my mom, but the perspective was a challenge for me. After I added the lamppost, I knew I’d messed up. It was way too tall. To be honest, if the painting wasn’t for my mom, I would have ditched it.

But I persevered. I pulled it out every so often and continued working on it. I already bought a frame. This week I measured the frame and decided to cut the painting and get rid of the too tall lamppost. In doing that, I’d need a custom mat. About 3 months ago, inspired by the Frugal Crafter, I bought mat board and a mat cutter. It was the first time I’d seen a tool that wasn’t an expensive table top cutter. The Logan 2000, has a line that you line up to prevent you from cutting past the corners. Since I already have a cutting mat and a straight edge, and am used to trimming with an exacto knife, it seemed perfect for me.

Isn’t it amazing how something sits for months and then in two days, you’ve completed the job. (It only took 2 days, because on the first day I mistakenly thought the Logan 2000 didn’t come with the blades. I was so disappointed! Eventually I realized I had everything I needed.) I found it a little hard, especially the corners, but I was happy with the outcome! I think with practice it will get easier.

I posted Mom’s painting on Instagram (mycreativeresolution) to see if she’ll notice. I hope she likes it! Wait, breaking news: She saw it and she likes it! 🙂 And it feels good to be done and to finally have used my new cutter!

My Steps:

See the start of this painting in the post “Pressure and Painting,” and the middle in the post “Mom’s present has entered the ugly phase. Can it recover?”

Cutting off the lamppost.
boardwalkmistake

Figuring out the correct height of the lamppost, before drawing a new one.
boardwalkfix

Logan 2000
logan1 logan2


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Mom’s present has entered the ugly phase. Can it recover?

ugly

The picture below is what fear looks like. The pressure is on, as I mentioned in a recent post. I want to add ink, but I’m afraid I’ll ruin the painting. Once the ink is on, it can’t be erased. So I do a couple of practice benches and go for it. Immediately I regret it, but I keep working. I continue to add benches. Did I mention I hate working in perspective? The benches look more like Chinese characters, but I keep going. I add ink to the boards of the boardwalk. I was terrified to add the lightpost. It’s too tall – maybe I can use a mat to crop it out and lower it? I add more detail to the benches and they start to look less like Chinese and more like benches.

Fear:
scared
Where I started from:
start

Where I am now:
After I soften the water (by wetting the watercolor pencil) I start to think, maybe I can get this to work. I have to keep working at it. Mom’s Christmas present may be a little late! Next steps – add watercolor to the benches and shadows. Add the rail.

boardwalk4

 

 


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Pressure and Painting

beachshot
For most of this year, I haven’t put pressure on myself to create “frame-able” pieces. I started the year working in my sketchbook because that really took the pressure off. Eventually, because I was using watercolor, I graduated to nicer paper, but I still approached each piece as playing and having fun – just seeing what I could make. The only “pressure” was to finish the painting and I like to think of that as the motivation that blogging has given me. With no pressure, I’d sit and play and often be surprised with the results. Sometimes I’d like the final painting so much, I’d frame it.

But now, I’ve started a project that I already bought a frame for. (My mother asked for a beach painting for Christmas.) It changes how I think as I work. Every step of the way I’m worried. In the past I worked around the “mistakes” because it didn’t really matter. I only had to please myself and I was happy just being creative and finishing. Now I’m stressing about the final product. Will she like it? Will other people like it?

Thankfully it’s for my mother! I can’t imagine the pressure if it was a commissioned piece! I remember as a kid, I drew the ugliest picture I could, and showed it to my mom. When she said it was beautiful and she loved it, I said, “I knew it! You always say that!”

She said, “Maybe I always think that. Just because you think it’s bad, doesn’t mean I do.” That got me thinking. Maybe to her, my “ugly” picture was beautiful – especially because I made it.


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Dedicating Time to Painting

I didn’t have much time this past week to work on any of my projects, so I decided I would dedicate Sunday to painting. I don’t often have large chunks of time to be creative, between work, family and home. I don’t think the term “starving artist” came about because there wasn’t time to food shop!

I do think stepping away from a project is a good thing, because when you come back to it you see it with a fresh eye. I was very excited about how I had “sketched” in the bicycle, until I looked at it again. I realized the tire was so small, it looked more like my banana seat bike from the ’70s than a big tire beach cruiser.

bike1

Now, I had to fix the tire, which would involve touching up the boardwalk, ugh. Most people probably start with the foreground and then add in the background. In the case of the boardwalk, I thought it would be easier to paint it first. I’d be interested in hearing how others approach their paintings!

bike2

I was so happy, having so much time to paint, but after less than an hour, I needed a break! I was struggling with the shape and size of the tire. I needed to step away. An hour later, full and refreshed, I came back to the painting. I continued working on the tire, fixing the boardwalk as I went. I then added the bike frame.

bike3

While working on the frame, I realized that freshly applied acrylic paint can be removed as easily as watercolor. With a damp brush I worked on the area I wanted to remove. When the paint transferred to the brush, I blotted the brush on a cloth and rinsed. I repeated this a few times and then used a paper towel to remove excess water.

pink1pink2pink3pink5

pink4pink6

It is always feels great, when you are struggling with something and work through it. I feel so good about where I’ve gotten so far.

bike4


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Revisiting Unfinished Projects

I came across several unfinished projects, while cleaning my office. I have a really hard time getting back into a project that I’ve abandoned. I think I’m afraid of ruining it. I forget where I was, and don’t even know where to start.

One such project, is an acrylic version of a bike on the boardwalk. I forced myself to start, even though it wasn’t easy! I had all kinds of measurements (because I was enlarging a section of a watercolor painting) and I didn’t even know what they meant! I had no idea what part I intended on working on next.

Once I got working again, things started to come more easily. I painted the railing and decided to do the sand and ocean next. I love painting the beach. It’s my favorite place. But, mixing the right color for sand and painting the ocean is really hard (for me).

For the sand, I mixed cadmium red and thalo blue to create a purple, which I added white to. This resulted in a grayish purple which I added cadmium yellow light to. In the sand area, I already had a base color, a purplish tan, which I thought might look good in the spots it will show through. I mixed a thalo blue with the cadmium yellow and added this greenish blue to my ocean area.

Here is my progress so far. Time to add the bike wheel…only slightly intimidating!

boardwalk2   boardwalk3


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A Bike on the Boardwalk

For a while, I kept meaning to paint a bike leaning on the railing of the boardwalk, with the beach in the background. Then Sandy hit and the boardwalk was destroyed. It is really strange for something that was always there to be gone. Obviously, my painting was of no priority amongst the Sandy damage.

One day I saw a couple of bikes locked to a signpost. I could imagine them leaning on the railing of the boardwalk. I ended up painting the pink beach cruiser, a bike I once owned, changing the background to the boardwalk and the beach. Since I didn’t have any great boardwalk pictures to use as reference, I painted the background mostly from memory.

Even though I always imagined the painting as an acrylic, I ended up working in watercolor. Shortly after, I started an acrylic version, which I never finished. Time to start painting…

bikeboardwalk