my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design


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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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A Collection of Paintings

Choosing paintings for art prints
I asked for help in deciding which paintings to make art prints of. I laid many of my beach landscapes on the table, numbered them, and asked my family and a close friend to pick their favorites. One painting, was clearly a favorite. There was overlap on a couple of others.

At the giclee printer, I laid out the top choices. The woman there – Nadia – showed me how four of the paintings worked together because the color of the ocean in them was blue, while three others were green.

Wow, as soon as she grouped them I saw them in a new light. That was it for me. First we would make prints of the “Blue Collection,” and hopefully soon after the “Green Collection.” Nadia also pointed out that instead of going by the color, you could also group by shape – the square paintings, and the horizontals. But for me, this color grouping was perfect.

Here is the Blue Collection.
Watercolor jetty. Beach painting. Painting waves/the ocean.    Watercolor beach painting Watercolor beach landscape by Eileen McKenna


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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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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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Tips on painting waves in watercolor

It is so helpful watching instructional videos and seeing someone break down their steps as they paint. After watching three short videos on painting waves, I came away with several tips.

  • Determine what direction the light is coming from
  • Create the waves with dark and light areas.
  • Where is the detail in the painting? And therefore where is the eye drawn to? Contrasts also draw the eye.
  • Keep slivers of white (the paper) which suggests waves in the distance. Add dark areas in front of these.
  • Blotting with a tissue can create the spray of a wave
  • Dark edges makes the foam look thicker
  • Wet sand has blue in it
  • Horizontal strokes in your painting make things look flatter – use a flat brush
  • Use other colors in the sky, not just blue
  • There is a reflection in things that are wet and shiny – like wet sand
  • The position of the horizon line effects the vantage point of the painting (where you are standing on the beach)
  • The water is greener closer to the shore
  • Colors in a painting – use the same colors throughout your whole painting

As I’ve practiced, I’ve come up with my own tips, including:

  • Use white gouache to add foam areas, spray, waves in the distance, etc.
    Read more about my process for painting the beach here.

Here are links to the videos I watched:

Beach Pin – 1″ soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
Beach Pin - 1" soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
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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/ Process for Painting the Beach in Watercolor Easy Acrylic Beach Painting anyone can make! 11 Art Supplies I can't paint without 19 Books for Creatives Easy steps to paint a sunset sky and a tree in acrylic paints
This post contains affiliate links to products 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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