my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design


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A Perfect Sunday

The start of a beach painting in watercolor
It was a beautiful spring day, really the perfect day. I went running, spent time with family, and lots of time outside. We barbecued and shared lots of laughs with the kids. And I started a new beach painting. 😀

Hope you enjoyed the day too!


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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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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.


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Tips and tools that prove invaluable

Watercolor beach painting
When I think about the progress I’ve made in the past two months, there are a few things that standout out to me. First watching videos of other artists painting waves gave me some great tips (which I wrote about here.)

Second, one of the artists was using a flat brush so I bought a couple to try. The smaller flat brush has become invaluable to me.

Lastly, when I started using white gouache for the foam of the waves it was a turning point.

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Read:
14 tips on painting waves in watercolor
 Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor


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Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor

Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor
There is a real benefit to painting the same subject over and over. You get better at it, you get faster. I noticed this the other day when I painted a complete beach scene from start to finish in one sitting. I had such a sense of accomplishment! Before this, I was still figuring things out. I often had several paintings going at once, adding details here and there and working on getting the water to look right. This time it was almost easy, I was stunned. How’d I do that? I realized I’d developed a process for painting the beach. I knew the steps to take to achieve a certain look.

My Process for painting the beach:

  1. Colors  – mixes of blue, yellow, and red watercolors
  2. Use painter’s tape to achieve a straight horizon line
  3. Paint the ocean water closest to the horizon darker and bluer
  4. Water in the cresting wave is lighter and greener
  5. Water in front of the wave is a darker shade of the green
  6. Water gets browner – more red – closer to the shore
  7. Add white gouache for foam and spray. More foam closer to shore.
  8. A flat brush helps achieve the horizontal lines that make things appear flat.
  9. Sand is darkest closest to the water
  10. The foam of the breaking wave has shadows in it
  11. Sky is lighter closest to horizon

Read:
14 tips on painting waves in watercolor

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Adding beach bodies to my paintings

Painting figures on the beachI’m proud of the progress I’ve made since starting to paint the beach on January 1st. I feel as if I’m finally capturing the movement of the waves. But something has been missing. Around here on a beautiful summer day the beaches are packed with people. Sometimes we struggle to find a good spot down by the water.

So, I’ve been collecting my photos that include people and trying to incorporate them into my paintings. Last night I did some loose brush sketches. Painting figures in my sketchbook

Today, I worked on refining the water in a painting where I had penciled in several people. Then I erased the pencil lines and using a watercolor pencil drew in the figures so I knew where to add paint. Figures don’t come easy to me and I have to work at a figure to get it right. Watercolor pencils are great because it’s easy to “erase” your lines by wetting them. You can mix the lines into the other colors or absorb them onto your brush.

I’m hoping if I focus on beach bodies for a while, I’ll see progress, like I’ve seen with my waves.

Here’s my favorite wave painting so far. Painting waves in watercolor

Have your read these posts yet?
 19 Books for Creatives 11 Art Supplies I can't paint without

Some posts contain affiliate links to products I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links. Thank you for supporting my blog!


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Painting within a theme for 31 days

Painting the beach my 31 day projectThis month I worked almost daily painting the beach. It’s a place that is very close to my heart. I grew up just a few blocks away from it. My mom referred to it as our backyard. I played there, I worked there, and eventually brought my own kids there.

That's me on the left, age 3 or 4

That’s me on the left, age 3 or 4.

I learned a lot this month. I’ve tried different techniques to capture the foam of the ocean – leave the white of the paper, use a white gel pen, use lots of white gouache. I’ve used different blues in my ocean mixture. I painted landscapes, as well as people close up. But, I feel it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more for me to learn and explore within this theme. So, not surprisingly, I’m continuing with my beach painting project. It probably would have been better to declare this a 100 day project from the start. Although that would have been a bit intimidating.

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Having the time to experiment

Adding details with a white gel pen
Almost a month focusing on one theme has given me time to try new techniques and tools, including:

  • Using a white gel pen to add the foam of the ocean
  • Mixing different color combinations for the ocean and sand
  • Adding white gouache to my skin tone mixture for a creamier look
  • Using painter’s tape to achieve a straight horizon line

Straight horizon with painter's tape

Some of these ideas I get from others like the painter’s tape tip and the white gel pen. It has become part of my style to add details with a black gel pen. But when I paint an ocean landscape the black ink seems to dark. It just doesn’t work. A few months ago I saw a post – I wish I could track down this source! – of an artist using a white gel pen when painting the ocean. Wow, that might be the answer to my dilemma! I didn’t hesitate and ordered the pen. It sat relatively unused until today.

I find the foam a bit of challenge and the gel pen is a unique way of handling it. I was hesitant to use it, preferring to leave areas white for the foam. But this particular painting wasn’t going so well and I thought, “What do I have to lose?”

I really like how I could scribble away and create the look of the foam. One book I read recommends using masking fluid to keep the foam areas white. Personally I’m not that much of a planner or that meticulous. I like to wing it a bit. That’s probably why I love painting in watercolor so much. It’s not so permanent. You can add in one area, and take away in another, and continue to work at a painting – that may not be going well – and possibly turn it into something beautiful.

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Learning by painting every day

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I’m still amazed that painting every day is such a learning process. Some days of course aren’t great and/or they don’t yield great results, but other days I try things and learn so much, make so much progress – regardless of what the final result is. I guess when you create every day, you’re picking up where you left off, it’s a continuous thing. If I have a thought to try a different color for the skin or leave more white paper or whatever, I remember it the next day. When you paint only here and there – you’re practically starting over every time, instead of building on the previous day.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been very mindful of trying to capture highlights and shadows. And since I started working in the beach theme I’ve been thinking a lot about skin tones and the shadows on the skin. I was very happy with the results of the skin of the little girl. I mixed yellow ochre and permanent rose and then mixed in white gouache. The white gouache adds a creaminess that I like. For the shadows of the skin tone I mixed in a little franch ultramarine. When I can, I add the compliment of a color to achieve the shadow instead of black. I was happy with the results. 😀