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4 Tips for Professional Looking Invitations

4 tips for professional looking invitations | Christmas holiday invites | Cookie Swap invitation
It’s not hard to make your invites more professional looking. Think about the type occasion – is it formal or casual? For children or adults? Design the invite with the vibe of the party, and these four tips in mind:

  1. Size. Don’t design your invite to be 8.5” x 11” (letter) size. Instead choose a standard invite size (so it fits in a standard size envelope.) Popular sizes are 5” x 7” and 4.25” x 5.5”. You can fit 2 invites (next to each other) on a letter size sheet when printing. Then trim to desired size.
  2. Fonts. Use two fonts. Highlight important elements on your invite with a font suitable to the vibe of the occasion. Make important information bigger. Use a simpler font for details.
  3. Artwork. Use artwork – there’s so much affordable artwork to download online on sites like Etsy. Visit my Etsy shop here. Choose border artwork, or clipart for the top of the invite, or even use artwork in the background – making sure the text is still readable. A photo of the guest of honor is also a good option especially for kid parties.
  4. Text Color. Use one or two colors. Black plus one color is a safe way to go. Select the colors from the artwork or photo.

Added details for added interest:

  • Make the paper with the text a little smaller and layer on top of a piece of interesting paper (that is the final invite size). Attach the two pieces of paper with glue or hole punch, and tie them together with a ribbon.
  • Glue an element or two – like sequins, or anything that fits your occasion’s theme.
  • Order envelopes in one of your colors.

Browse my Etsy shop for downloadable holiday art, borders, and backgrounds for your next invitation project!

Download a free editable text template file (word doc):
invitetemplate_eileenmckenna

4 tips for professional looking invitations | fall halloween holiday invites

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How to Paint the Ocean with Watercolor and Gouache

How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | tutorial | step by step instructions | painting tips
The beach has been the backdrop of my life. It’s where I was born and raised, played, worked as a lifeguard…and now enjoy summer days with my family. I spend a lot of time learning and practicing capturing the ocean in watercolor.

How to Paint the Ocean with Watercolor and Gouache:

1. Reference photo. I always work from a photo. I have the luxury of taking my own ocean photos, but even if you can’t, there are plenty of photos online to use as reference.

2. Tape your paper to a board. My favorite paper is Fluid watercolor blocks. I use the cardboard back of an old, larger pad and painter’s tape.

3. Tape your horizon line. To ensure a straight line I tape it. I eyeball how much from the photo and measure and mark with pencil both sides of my paper so it’s straight. Put the tape above your marks.
Tape your horizon for a straight edge when painting the ocean in watercolor

4. Mix your colors. I use ultramarine, cadmium red, and cadmium yellow and mix them to achieve the different shades of the ocean. Since the ocean is many different colors I find this to be the best way to achieve the natural looking colors I’m looking for. The color of the distant ocean is usually bluer, the waves that are closer are greener, and underneath the foam is brown water. Very wet sand reflects the sky and has a bluish tint. As the sand gets further from the ocean (and is drier), it is lighter.

5. The first layer. I paint with a brush, wet with paint, onto dry paper. I start at the horizon with a bluer mix for the distant ocean and switch to a greener mix for closer waves. For the underneath of the foam of the crashing wave I add a little grey (made from my mix of blue, red, and yellow) and light greens. In front of the wave, I use a browner blue mix and closer to the shore, where the foam is, I use a brown mix. The sand closes to the water’s edge is darkest. From there I lighten the brown (make more translucent) with water for the drier sand. I cover most of the paper.
How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | painting tips
Let your first layer dry. The first layer often looks like a blob – don’t be discouraged! Watercolor is all about building up the layers and nothing is really permanent. You can manipulate and even erase the paint (by touching it with a wet brush and blotting the brush on a paper towel).

6. Adjusting the first layer – If your first layer is a bit washed out, add more paint to darken it. Use your photo as your guide. You can use this time to add darks and lights in the distant ocean, as well as within the wave in the foreground. If your first layer is very dark, you can use a wet brush to pull up some of the paint, to create highlights.

7. The sky. When your ocean at the horizon is completely dry, gently peel up the tape. The simplest way to paint the sky is to start at the top of the painting (I always turn it clockwise to paint the sky). Paint with a brush saturated with cerulean blue at the top of the painting (on your right if you turned it). Test the saturation of cerulean blue on a scrap of paper before touching your painting. Paint a few thick strokes, then dip your brush into your water, and paint another few strokes touching your first one. Paint to horizon line, dipping in water again if needed. You are watering down the paint as you get closer to the horizon line. The sky is lighter at the horizon and more saturated as you look up from there. Read this post if you want to explore painting more complex skies.
How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | painting tips

8. The foam – White gouache. Add the foam in the break of the wave and closer to the shore with white gouache. Gouache is more opaque than watercolor so you can paint with white over other colors. Use a flat brush and create overlapping horizontal zig zag lines for the foam close to shore. The flat brushes I use are: 1/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″. In the breaking wave use different techniques – with a round brush paint circular strokes, and paint small dots or specks (stippling).
Painting with gouache
How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | painting tips

Let this layer dry.

9+. Adding details. Compare your painting to your reference photo. They do not need to be exact! What areas need more detail, highlights, shadows, or color changes, etc.? This can involve several additional layers, with drying time in between, or just one or two. It all depends on the look you are going for – how loose, how realistic.

Details I add:

In the foam: I usually add more shadows (with dark brown or grey) within the foam, and blend it with the gouache, and more white gouache zig zag strokes on top of that.

In the crashing wave: There is a lot of depth in a crashing wave. I usually add shadows on top of the gouache and then add more gouache on top of that. Add little white dots for spray. I sometimes pat my finger on top of these so they look more natural. Depending on my reference photo, I may need to paint on the barrel of the wave (with a mostly dry brush). I usually add darker areas in the water in front of the breaking wave.

Distant ocean: If needed – dark and light areas for forming waves, and moving water.

Dark sand at the ocean’s edge: Right next to the edge of the water add a dark line of brown. Then go back with a wet brush and touch the line to “bleed” the brown.
Painting the ocean's edge
Add more paint to the wet area if necessary to create more wet sand.
Painting the ocean's edge

Calling it done! I usually work on a painting on and off for about a week. When I think it is close to being done, I prop it up and look at it from across the room. I may add a few more details. Sometimes it’s better to call it done, because tweaking it, may affect other areas. I’ll remember the “challenges” with a painting and try to overcome them in the next painting. I’d love to see YOUR seascape! Email me at lidesigner@yahoo.com.
How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | painting tips

View my collection of watercolor seascapes here. Prints are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes.

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

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands 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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Making the Transition from Watercolor to Acrylic – Week 1

Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic
Final acrylic work for week 1.

I’m happy with the results and learned a lot this week as I try painting in acrylic after working for so long in watercolor. Admittedly, the first day in my acrylic challenge was frustrating.

I’m so used to working in watercolor where:

  • A little paint goes a long way
  • Water lightens color
  • Paint goes on the paper so easily, especially wet paper with a wet brush
  • You need just a cup or two of water for brush cleaning
  • One paper towel is all you need to occasionally dry a brush

Day 1 with acrylics:

  • The paint wasn’t going on smoothly
  • I was brushing off paint and creating messy clumps
  • I had to change out my cups of water frequently
  • My paint mixes were so dark I had to mix in a lot of white

Lessons learned the first day:

  • Mix in a little water for smoother brushing (helpful site: www.artisfun.com)
  • Perhaps apply gesso prior to painting (recommended by above website)
  • Let layers dry to avoid brushing off paint and creating clumps
  • Have lots of rags handy!

Day 2 with acrylics:
Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic

  • Mixing in a little water helped. Paint went on smoothly.
  • When I want to create a fade in watercolor, I apply the color and then use water to fade it out. Doing this in acrylic, adding too much water, creates a strange look and I worry it will rub off.

Overall, I was proud of my progress on Day 2.

Day 3:
Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic

  • Similar struggle with how to fade colors (without too much water)
  • Struggled with mixing the right color for the sand

Lessons learned on Day 4. (I combined painting with watching instructional YouTube videos.)

  • Fading colors. This video was very helpful regarding fading:.
  • How much is too much water? This video answered my question on mixing in water. 80% paint, 20% water max.

I’m still trying to figure out the right color mixes, especially sand, which is ironic because back at the beginning of my blog (2014), I was painting in acrylic and trying to figure out what color sand is! Overall I’m happy with my progress and am looking forward to learning more next week!

Click here to view my collection of watercolor seascapes. Prints are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes.

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


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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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9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's resolution #resolution #new #years
My 2014 resolution was to be more creative. I came across a note I wrote six months in, “just pull out the paints.” Now, four years later, I realize keeping a resolution isn’t that simple. I know my success has been much more specific than that. There are ups and downs to any resolution. There are times when you are into it, and times when you aren’t. Sometimes it’s hard to just “pull out the paints” (or eat a salad, or put on your running shoes, or stay away from sugar, etc.). Here are some of the strategies I’ve used to help me keep my creative resolution.

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution:

  1. Make a “positive” resolution. Your resolution should be about what you are going to do, not what you are not going to do. For example – Eat healthy vs. Stop eating junk.
  2. Research your resolution. Read books, magazines, blogs, or watch videos about your topic. Learning about your topic will motivate you, and help you on your journey.
  3. Tell people about your resolution. The more you tell others what you have resolved to do, the more you’ll feel committed to doing it, and it may help you connect with people with similar goals.
  4. Keep track of your progress. Keep a journal, or a blog about your journey, and include all your struggles and victories. Reread it from time to time to remind yourself how far you’ve come. The blogging community can be very supportive!
  5. Be realistic. Start small. If your resolution is running, you can’t expect to run 3 miles the first day out. And if you do, you’ll probably not want to run the next day! Start small, and build on it.
  6. Spend money. You’ll be more motivated and committed if you spend money. It’s the spending guilt! Buy new healthy snacks, new running sneakers, art supplies, or whatever items support your resolution.
  7. Schedule time. You can’t change your eating, or exercise, or paint, or meditate, if you don’t have time. Make your resolution a priority by scheduling time for it.
  8. Be specific. Although my resolution was to be more creative, on a weekly basis I write a list of specific goals and to do items within that resolution.
  9. Challenge yourself. Over time the same thing gets boring. After you achieve the first level of success, challenge yourself with new goals within your resolution – a new type of exercise, sign up for a race, register for a class, commit to making a new healthy recipe each week, or try another art form. Keep things interesting!

According to statisticbrain.com 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions. Only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolution. I hope my tips help you keep your resolution this year. 🙂

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

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek! The perfect gift for beach lovers.
“Light” by Eileen McKenna - capturing the light when painting in watercolors #coastalart #coastalinteriors