Summer is Blooming

coneflower – Echinacea

It’s that time of year when the gardens are blooming! They are at their peak, before the August heat starts to take its toll. I love taking lots of pictures to use as reference for future paintings. I’m like a squirrel stocking up for winter. I’m storing creative inspiration on my phone for the winter months.

I’m in awe of every hibiscus bloom we get. I’ve made several attempts to paint them. And the coneflowers –  Echinacea – are one of my favorites. Last spring I created a new printable tutorial if you’d like to give coneflower painting a try!

Coneflower Painting Tutorial

See more Beginner painting ideas here.

Beginner Painting Tutorials

Two paintings of the same subject

I often start and work on more than one painting at a time. It’s nice to have another painting to grab when you’ve reached the point with a painting where the newest layer needs to dry. Sometimes I work on more than one painting from the same reference photo. I’m not trying to create duplicate paintings. I’m giving myself the opportunity to try different things, to learn, to explore.

Two paintings of the same subject

The paintings above are from the same photo. In one there is a seagull. The crashing part of the wave is slightly different. Even the color of the sky, the detail of the sand. For me it’s not about which one is better. It’s more about what I learned during the painting process.

See my collection of seascape paintings at Prints are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes.

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Being “In” a Painting

Painting waves in watercolor | creative habitsPainting for an entire hour proved impossible this morning, as I had things to do. But a half hour is better than nothing. As I worked, I thought about how daily work keeps you “in” a painting. You’re engaged in the project, even thinking about it when you are away from it. Being “in” a painting helps bring you back to your creativity. It’s easier to get to work – you know what to work on, perhaps you’ve even thought out how to tackle an area of the painting. But when a few days pass without revisiting your painting or project, that thread is broken. It’s harder to motivate to sit down and create, because you might not remember where you left off or possibly even what you were working on.

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Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at Take a peek!
The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints

Back at it

Making progress - watercolor paintingPreoccupied with other things, I didn’t sit down to paint much this week. So, it feels particularly good to make some progress on this painting today. This painting has been hanging around for a few weeks. It was definitely at risk of going into the scrap pile. But I try to give each one a chance. I know from experience that even the worst beginnings, can surprise you in the end.

Practice practice practice


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. 😉

Week 1 of painting the beach


I’m really enjoying focusing on painting the beach this month. I kicked it off with a walk on the beach – of course taking lots of photos. I’ve taken the pressure off myself to finish a painting every day and post it. Instead I’m enjoying the process of mixing paints to find the right colors for the ocean and the sand, of starting one painting, and adding details to another, of trying different techniques to capture the depth and movement of the water, and of looking through our old photos to use as reference.

My goal is to sit every day for about an hour and paint or draw the beach. I wrote out a list of prompts, but am only using them as a guide on days I don’t know what to focus on. So far, 6+ days in (I started early), it is very relaxing, but I do worry that without the motivation/accountability to post a final piece, I’ll revert to old habits and not finish anything.

For now I’m going to continue as is. I may not have 6 completed paintings, but I’ve definitely learned a thing or two this week. I can re-evaluate how things are going next week.