It’s hard to know what I enjoy more, a visit to the beach or time spent painting. Recently I did both in the same day. Obviously it was a good day.
The beach visit was an early morning one with my husband and coffee. Love those.
The painting session – which took place at home later on – was with acrylics on canvas, instead of my usual watercolor. I’ve been itching to get back to acrylics. I worked on a canvas I had already started, and was able to finish it, which felt great.
I’m looking forward to another day like this one!
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I’m back to painting with acrylics on canvas (instead of my usual watercolor). It was last May that I bought a stack of small canvases and painted seascapes on them – learning with each set. Since then, I’ve dabbled here and there with acrylics.
This time around, I feel more confident and freer. I was thinking about why that was, and I figured it out. When starting with a brand new canvas, I feel pressure about the final product. Since I’ve been reusing old canvases, it has felt like play. I feel free to learn and experiment. I’m not as worried about the final product or about making mistakes. And if I don’t like something, I’m diving back in to change it. In the painting below, the horizon was so high up the perspective felt weird and unnatural, so I lowered it.
Years ago in a drawing class I created a drawing of a bear that we loved. It was an awkward size and was expensive to have custom framed. After that I began mapping out the frame sizes of my drawings before even starting them! The pressure of creating frameable pieces paralyzed me. I was afraid to make a mark and ruin a drawing. When I realized what I had done to myself, I began approaching my drawings and paintings as play. It was so freeing. But it’s easy to feel free with paper. The weight of a canvas did the same thing to me!
I just went to the art store for new paint and brushes. Eventually I’d like to create a 2 panel painting for over the couch, but I didn’t buy the canvases yet. I’m going to continue playing with the canvases I have, until I feel ready.
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2019 is off to a good start! I’m making drawing and painting a priority and try to work in the mornings, even if it’s just for a little bit. It’s fun to sit down with no real thought as to where it will lead and let things unfold.
With painting holiday themed things throughout December, it’s been a while since I painted a seascape. Looking through my stack of unfinished projects, I found the start of a seascape and suddenly felt inspired to finish it. (Our annual New Year’s Day walk at the beach may have also inspired this. The waves were crazy!) Painting the foam was so much fun!
There are two time-lapse videos on Instagram if you want to see how I went from here:
As I was looking through my supplies this week, my kneaded eraser was nowhere to be found, I had only one sheet of watercolor paper left, and my favorite sketchbook was running low! I didn’t paint today but I did head to Blick to stock up on these essentials. I usually paint using 9” x 12” or 12” x 12” watercolor paper, but felt inspired to also grab a larger pad of 12″ x 16″.
It’s funny – a few years ago my favorite size was 6” x 6” – so small! It was an accident that I went to the 12” x 12”. I ordered the wrong size, decided to give it a try, and have never looked back!
After a busy time, it feels good to be playing around with watercolor again. When I haven’t painted in a while it feels easier to dip my toe in by working in my sketchbook. At first I don’t know what to paint so I just doodle and play around. Usually inspiration strikes. I started painting a series of mini seascapes. I’m practicing for a workshop I’m teaching next week.
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.
When I first started painting my seascapes, the skies were simple blue gradations, with the lightest blue closest to the horizon. With each seascape painting I started playing a bit more with the sky – trying to achieve the perfect sky blue, adding other colors as a glow on the horizon, adding a bit of texture for clouds.
Then I did two painting with gray cloudy skies, which were a lot of fun.
Now more often than not, I’m adding colors and texture to my skies, like in these recent paintings.
I’m still striving to find the perfect mix of blue for “sky blue,” especially to capture those bright blue sky, summer days.
I even searched online for “best watercolor blue for the sky” and found a great post on Scratchmade Journal by Tonya, who experimented and discovered, “almost any combination of blues can be used to create a realistic sky in watercolor, but no single blue worked well alone.”
See all my seascape paintings and compare the skies at shop.eileenmckenna.com.Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14.”
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!
It felt good the other morning to sit and paint. I didn’t have any ongoing paintings, so first I set up several boards – taping the watercolor paper down. For this painting I worked with the paper still stuck to the pad – not as effective as taping it down, but I ran out of boards.
I started 4 paintings in one sitting, using two reference photos. The goal of painting two from the same photo was to do one version that was a quicker less detailed version. Although I can’t say this will actually happen this time around.
It’s always easier for me to sit and paint when I have a painting in progress, especially if I don’t let too much time pass between working on it. And since you need to allow time for the layers to dry, I like having at least two paintings to work on at once.
When I came home later in the day, the paintings were on my mind, so I picked one to work on some more. I ended up focusing solely on this one and finished it by the end of the day.
Here are the stages:
Second layer. I needed to darken things up a bit.
Third layer. Still tweaking the color of the ocean. Started added the foam.
Fourth layer – more foam. After this I added more color to the sky.
Day 13 – I found a page of little watercolor beach scenes I did a while back and added ink to them.
Day 14 – This sketch is from the cover of National Geographic and has been on my coffee table for weeks. Faces are not my strong point, so doing a face in ink, where you can’t erase and adjust, was risky.
Day 15 – A simple leaf I found on my run.
Day 16 & Day 17 – Flipping through my sketchbook I found a few watercolor illustrations that I added ink to. That’s me in blue. 😁
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