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Capturing the magic of childhood with the watercolor illustrations of Riley Sheehey

Whimsical and soft, Riley Sheehey's watercolor illustrations always bring a smile to our face! Aiming to share joy to all through her work, she meets her goal with much success. Former teacher, her universe is deeply inspired by that of children : their never ending imagination, their sweet fantasy worlds, their innocence and tenderness can be felt in her creations.

Let us dive into to her beautiful world and learn more about this passionate Northern VA-based artist and illustrator!

Riley Sheehey - Capturing the magic of childhood - Watercolor illustrations - Charlotte sy Dimby
Headshot by Abby Grace Photography

How did you transition from the world of teaching to art?

I have always loved art, but it really turned into a full-time passion for me in 2014, while I was on summer vacation from teaching. It was my first summer off from teaching where I didn’t have another summer job lined up, and so I decided to get back into creating my own art, and from there, I started my business. 

Riley Sheehey - Capturing the magic of childhood - Watercolor illustrations - Charlotte sy Dimby
Apartment with animals in collaboration with Dogwood Hill

How do children inspire you?

I have always loved children. I taught swim lessons, babysat and helped lead my church youth group growing up so after college, teaching seemed like a natural career choice - and I loved it!

I think that having been a teacher for so long before switching careers, I have a kind of childlike, curious view of the world myself! I think that I bring a lot of my experience of teaching and working with children to my work. I want to make things that make all people, young and old, happy, so I think that my illustrations end up being (hopefully) appreciated by both. 

Riley Sheehey - Capturing the magic of childhood - Watercolor illustrations - Charlotte sy Dimby
Nursery commissioned by Clary Bosbyshell

Can you share a little on your work process?

I find inspiration all over the place! It changes a lot but always- flowers, pattern, and interiors/interior design.

I love to make things that will make people smile, laugh, and just be generally happy. Sometimes, when I’m drawing animals, I even like to make up little stories about them in my head while I’m working. I think if you’re having fun creating things, that comes across in your work. 

I work mainly on watercolor illustration, but also loves finding new surfaces to paint on (seashells, ribbon, and picnic baskets, to name a few) with acrylics.

Riley Sheehey - Capturing the magic of childhood - Darling basket - Charlotte sy Dimby
Hand made painted bows

Can you share some of your sweetest memories?

I love working with all of my clients, but there are a few repeat clients that always hold a special place for me. I think that any time that a client comes to me with a project I would have loved to work on as a personal project, and places their trust in me, it’s a great thing!
Riley Sheehey - Capturing the magic of childhood - Watercolor illustrations - Charlotte sy Dimby
Halloween watercolor illustration

Can you share one or several Instagram accounts which capture the beauty of childhood?

Yours! And honestly, any one of my friends/the people I follow who are mothers and fathers. I think being a parent has to be one of the greatest/trickiest jobs ever, and just give them so much credit for creating beautiful childhoods


Follow Riley's Instagram account @cestriley

Visit her website and shop her artwork

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Read our serie on Capturing the magic of childhood

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