Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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More Confidence with Acrylics on Canvas

More Confidence with Acrylics on Canvas | tips on painting seascapes
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.

Prints and original seascapes are available on my website shop.eileenmckenna.com Come visit 🙂

 

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10 “How to” Posts on Painting, Graphic Design, Creativity and more!

10 "How to" Posts on Painting, Graphic Design, Creativity and more! | acrylic painting watercolor tutorial diy round up post
It’s still amazing to me that I made a commitment to be creative, created this blog to hold myself accountable, have continued with it for over five years, and have published over 600 posts! This from someone who previously couldn’t finish a creative project. Here’s a round up of my best “How to” posts.

How to Design Invitations. I’ve been a Graphic Designer for over 20 years. I wrote this post to share the process of designing invitations. Designing invites has always been one of my favorite projects. Visit my Etsy shop for invitation borders, backgrounds, and clipart that make the invitation design process easier!

How to Design Invitations | DIY Invites | Invitation Tutorial | Easy Invites

How to Paint the Ocean. For the last few years I have dedicated myself to capturing the ocean in watercolor. This post shares my step by step process and my secret ingredient.
How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | tutorial | step by step instructions | painting tips 

Transitioning from Watercolor to Acrylics was such a challenge and I’m still learning every time I pull out a canvas. In this post I share the top differences between the two, to help others make a more smooth transition.
Going from watercolor to acrylics, painting acrylic seascapes

Easy Forest Watercolor Project – is a great one for watercolor beginners. Create an interesting forest and learn and practice five watercolor techniques along the way. It’s actually one of my most popular posts and I’ve heard such nice things from the people who have tried it. There was even a group at a library that tried it.
Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn watercolor techniques! #winter #forest #watercolor #beginners

Creating Repeating Patterns. Early on in my blogging days I began noticing the art of Surface Design. This post explains how to turn your art into a repeating pattern.
How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.

Creativity is for everyone. For me being creative is less about the final product and more about the joy I get from being creative. I wish I realized sooner that talent doesn’t mean much. It’s just a starting point. If you have the desire to be creative and work at it regularly, your skills will improve.
Want to be creative? Start here! creative inspiration | how to be creative

Winter Birch Tree Painting. I wanted to add wintery art to my living room so I created these birch tree paintings in acrylic and shared my process in this post.
Easy Acrylic Birch Tree Painting #beginner #painting

Developing your own Illustration Style. When my kids were small I desperately wanted to illustrate a children’s book. But, not only were my skills not there, but I didn’t have a style. I scoured the internet looking for ways to develop my own style. In this post I share what I learned.
6 Tips on Developing your own Illustration Style 

Ways to Find Inspiration. It’s very rare that I don’t have ideas. For me time is more of a struggle, as well as following through on ideas. This post shares ways to find inspiration.
10 Ways to come up with ideas for your creative projects

Logo Design Process. I shared a peek into my life as a graphic designer in this post about designing logo.
Logo Design Process

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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

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.

Download the full  “Waterscape Seascape Painting Tutorial,” in my Etsy shop.
Watercolor Seascape Tutorial Download

How to Paint the Ocean with Watercolor and Gouache:

1. Use a reference photo.

2. Tape your paper to a board.

3. Tape your horizon line.

4. Mix your colors.

5. Paint the first layer. From the distant ocean to the dry sand.

6. Darken the first layer as needed.

7. Paint the sky.

8. Paint the foam with white gouache.

9+. Add details.

Call it done!

The full tutorial is a 2 page pdf, provides details of each step, and  includes a reference photo, and photos at each stage.

Download the full  “Waterscape Seascape Painting Tutorial,” in my Etsy shop now.
Watercolor Seascape Tutorial Download

Would you like to be creative on a regular basis? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

Creative Exploration book -

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more about the newsletter here.
creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction Easy Starfish Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn Watercolor Techniques

View my collection of seascapes here. Originals and prints are available!

How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | tutorial | step by step instructions | painting tips

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. 🙂

What are your creative plans for 2020? Hoping for a creative year but don’t know where to start? Try my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life – Develop a regular practice of creating, explore mediums and subjects in search of your thing, and experience the joy that creativity brings. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -