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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A Collection of Paintings

Choosing paintings for art prints
I asked for help in deciding which paintings to make art prints of. I laid many of my beach landscapes on the table, numbered them, and asked my family and a close friend to pick their favorites. One painting, was clearly a favorite. There was overlap on a couple of others.

At the giclee printer, I laid out the top choices. The woman there – Nadia – showed me how four of the paintings worked together because the color of the ocean in them was blue, while three others were green.

Wow, as soon as she grouped them I saw them in a new light. That was it for me. First we would make prints of the “Blue Collection,” and hopefully soon after the “Green Collection.” Nadia also pointed out that instead of going by the color, you could also group by shape – the square paintings, and the horizontals. But for me, this color grouping was perfect.

Here is the Blue Collection.
Watercolor jetty. Beach painting. Painting waves/the ocean.    Watercolor beach painting Watercolor beach landscape by Eileen McKenna


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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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Practice practice practice

img_1830

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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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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Painting the Beach

beachandshells
After painting a few flowers, I wanted a new subject. The beach is my favorite place. I’m always trying to paint it but struggle to really capture it – the shadows and waves in the water, the changing color of the sand. When I put too much detail in the water it just doesn’t look right. When I work quicker and looser it looks better, but seems to be missing something. After a few attempts at painting the beach, I needed a new subject (again). Right in front of me were shells we collected at the beach. Ah! Still the beach, but now I’m zooming in on the details. This one was fun and I like how it came out.


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Assembly Line Painting {an experiment}

assembly
I recently had some success with a fairly quick beach landscape. The blooms that unintentionally formed and looked like crashing waves was a large part of the success. I was curious if I could recreate this and decided to set up several boards (watercolor paper taped to cardboard) to paint all at once. My plan was to paint specific sections in each painting, one right after the other, using a similar process.

The process:

  1. With blue watercolor pencil, draw horizon line
  2. Paint the sky
  3. With grey watercolor pencil define edge of the water and paint it
  4. Paint deep part of the ocean
  5. Add water at edge of the deep ocean to get sucked into deep part and create blooms (crashing waves)
  6. Add finishing touches

 

As you know, I’ve set up personal painting parties before, where I get started on several paintings at once. Usually the paintings share a common theme or inspiration. But this is the first time I’ve attempted several versions of the same painting at once. Immediately I noticed that I was learning nuances or experimenting a little on each painting in an attempt to make it better. I knew from the start that they would never be identical, which is something I didn’t want anyway.

This year I’ve seen, several times, that digging deeper in a theme can lead to better results. I think the same is true here. I’m learning by painting the same thing over and over.

At this point each painting needs some special attention and some finishing touches. I’m not sure I can do this step at the same time. We’ll see. 🙂

Hoping for some “bloom” waves:
bloomwaves


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Sketching & Doodling in Summer

beachphoto
Where are the lazy days of Summer? It feels busy. I’m trying hard to squeeze in sketching time, even at the pool. And if I’m at the beach, I’m always taking pictures and thinking about the next painting.

mymornings
More and more, I realize how inspired I am by the seasons. My paintings of flowers have been replaced by beach paintings, pool sketches, and shell patterns. I see other artists online who are working on Christmas cards for the upcoming season. It makes sense – so their products are ready in time, but I don’t think I could do that! I love immersing myself in a season (or theme) and continuing to explore it with each project. I couldn’t put the shells away and start doodling Santas, at least not at this point.
poolsketch


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A pattern for July – Seashells

shellspattern
I really enjoyed creating this pattern. It brought me back to collecting shells as a kid and marveling at the patterns and colors. Oh wait, I still do that!

This pattern started with doodles in my sketchbook. I drew a lot of shells! I have jarfuls on hand for reference.
shells-2

Then on watercolor paper I painted shells using different colors. I took creative liberties with this step.
shellswatercolor-1

I scanned everything in, and layered the outlines and watercolors together in Photoshop. I also added a textured background. After I had my arrangement set, I repeated it to see how it worked. I had to shift things a bit when the shells overlapped.

I truly felt inspired creating this pattern. It felt very nostalgic for me. And I can’t wait to get back down to the beach to collect more shells.


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Painting the ocean

Living near the ocean, and loving it as I do, I’ve often tried to paint it. It’s not easy! There are so many shadows in the water even on the calmest days. I’ve created paintings where I’ve tried to paint each little shadow and they have looked stiff. Nothing like water. I’ve found that sometimes the quick paintings of the ocean, where I don’t over work them, end up being the most successful.
In this painting I added a little water below the blue and it pushed into the blue creating blooms that look like a wave. Happy accidents!

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