my creative resolution

Painting, Illustration, Surface Design, and Animation

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With Digital Design the Possibilities are Endless

As I sat down at the computer to design a pattern around my elf sketches, I quickly realized the sketches were just the tip of the iceberg. What kind of background did I want? A snowy scene? Or maybe a plaid background? When working with pens, paper, watercolor – basically any tools not on the computer – we have choices and options but once we move forward with a decision, things can only be changed so much. On the computer anything can be undone, changed, resized, rotated, colors altered, layers overlayed, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming! And I work as a graphic designer for a living. It must be the blending of the two – the hand drawn and the computer – that has my head swimming!

I started with the elves from my sketchbook and added this snowy night background behind them. It was interesting, but the dark sky didn’t seem right for Christmas gift wrap. I tried the plaid background, but I didn’t like the computer drawn plaid behind the watercolor. But, I ordered a fabric swatch of the snowy night out of curiosity.
gingerbreadhousesrepeatw elvesplaidrepeatw

Another day I went back to the sketchbook and drew Christmas elements, and eventually added watercolor to them. I also painted stripes in red and green. Back at the computer (on another day), I scanned and played around with the different elements. I liked using the watercolor stripes much better than the computer plaid. Although it was a challenge to get the stripes to look right when I repeated the pattern. I’ve order a swatch of this pattern, so I’ll keep you posted!

Here’s the Christmas Watercolor Stripes design without the repeat:

I’m interested in your thoughts! Out of the 3 designs, which do you like the best?

  1. Christmas Watercolor Stripes
  2. Snowy night at the North Pole
  3. Elves on plaid

Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks!!🙂

If you’d like to see my other gift wrap and fabric designs, please click here.


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What are you going to be for Halloween?

This sketch (for InkTober) was done using as reference a photo of my kids from several Halloweens ago. When I was a kid I loved dressing up. “What are you going to be?” we asked each other.

Looking back I loved the creativity of a handmade costume or hand “pieced” together costume – I didn’t sew. We didn’t have catalogs of costumes arriving at our door like there are now. One year I was a spider. I stuffed black tights and hung them from my waist as my spider legs. A few years ago I saw something similar for sale in a catalog!

I still dress up and piece together a costume from this or that. Last year I was Cruella Deville. The year before that I was Little Red Riding Hood. I still don’t know what I’ll be this year. So…what are you going to be?!



Drawing Digitally


With InkTober motivating me, I’ve been focused on my sketchbook this month. But sitting on the couch this afternoon I grabbed my iPad and stylus pen to get back to drawing digitally. The boy pulling his wagon was the last one I did weeks ago.

The whole feel of drawing on the iPad is different than pen on a page in the sketchbook. It took me a while to get used to it again. And I miss being able to lean my hand like on the sketchbook! Any touch creates lines on the iPad.

I use a ZXU fine point stylus pen which I found on Amazon. (This is not a sponsored post.) I draw in Adobe Illustrator Sketch and Adobe Photoshop Draw because I like working in layers and you can send your files from the iPad directly to those programs on your desktop.

Do you draw digitally? What tools do you prefer? Have any tips to share?


Overlay designs to create a new design and a pattern

I recently came across a watercolor painting I did in pinks, blues and yellows. At the time I was trying to paint abstractly. The other day for my InkTober challenge I drew Montauk daisies, which are in bloom in the yard. I immediately thought of that watercolor and thought it would be cool to overlay the daisies over it.


I did something a little different with this pattern. I set up the watercolor painting so the edges don’t fall in the same place as the edges of the ink drawing. (They fall in the center.)

I’m happy to be designing patterns again and remembering how to have the background line up differently was a small victory for me! Last time I was working with a pattern I was struggling with having it be organic and actually lining up when it repeated.

If you’d like to learn more here is a post on how to create a pattern. Let me know if you’d like more info on the subject.🙂

Here is the design on repeat:


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Which witch inspires you?


When I was little I loved Hazel the witch on Bugs Bunny. Every time she flew off, she’d leave behind her bobby pins floating in the air.

Every October since starting my creative resolution, I’ve been inspired by Halloween – drawing haunted houses among other things. This year I seem to to be drawn to witches.


Using a model from a catalog as reference, I drew this witch strolling down her path.


Then I created the inside of a witch’s house (the first illustration in this post). That illustration had a mind of its own. On the following day, instead of creating a new illustration for InkTober, I added a new floor to the witch’s house. And I may not be done. Don’t you think it needs some rats scurrying around in the attic? 😂


Waiting for the leaves to change

Here in New York the leaves are beginning to change. Only a few have fallen. I am so looking forward to the bright colors and to walking through the leaves – that “swish swish” and the beautiful reds, purples, and yellows everywhere. Cleaning up the leaves I am not looking forward to!

In years past, the leaves have been a huge inspiration to me.

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See how I made this watercolor leaf here.


Dreaming of Christmas gift wrap designs

Christmas gift wrap
Last year I achieved a personal goal of mine by designing holiday gift wrap. Through Spoonflower I was able to have the designs printed and also made available to anyone else who might be interested in purchasing them. It was really cool to wrap gifts for the kids and family in wrapping paper I designed! Some of my supportive family bought the gift wrap and I saw presents wrapped with them at two family parties!

The gift wrap at Spoonflower isn’t cheap, but the quality of the paper is beautiful! And it’s reusable for wrapping other gifts or for crafts. Spoonflower also prints on fabric (their main business). I wish I sewed so I could make Christmas pillows to decorate the house. Maybe some day.

toysoldiers2_5inchhigh nutcrackersrepeating

I’ve been going through the sketchbooks I filled last December for inspiration for a new holiday design. The elves caught my eye! They’ll probably make it into this year’s holiday gift wrap design.

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You never really know how a drawing will turn out


As you put your pen to the page to make that first mark, you never really know how things will turn out. At least I don’t know. Sure I have a vision in my head, but that doesn’t mean it will turn out that way.

Personally, I don’t really plan much, I get an idea and just dive in and see what happens. If I’m drawing in ink – which I’m doing a lot this month for InkTober – I rarely do a pencil sketch first. Unless the drawing involves a face or body, then I will do some planning in pencil to get things looking “right.”

I was really pressed for time with this “little guy in the leaves.” The inspiration photo was one of my youngest son probably 8 or 9 years ago. I used pencil first to plan things a little – because you can’t erase ink. I was pleasantly surprised with the results in such a short time.

This drawing experience was the opposite of yesterday’s! I was drawing in the car during my older son’s practice. I first focused in on a nearby car. Within a minute or two of drawing the car, it drove off! Without the car there I had a hard time finishing that part. I drew the car in front of me, but my pen started running out, probably because I was drawing upright on the steering wheel. I ended up focusing on drawing the chain link fence. Like I said, you never know what the result will be when you start drawing!

See all my InkTober blog posts:

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NY Comic Con and meeting the creator of InkTober


My young son was thrilled to win tickets to Comic Con. So on Sunday we took the train into the city to check it out. The fun started on the train where we spotted people in costume. When we arrived, crowds of people were pouring into the Javits Center, many in costume. We walked the convention floor trying to take it all in. We attended a “panel” of the creators of Gravity Falls, of which my son is a huge fan. It was great! Very inspiring for a young creative.


Back on the floor of the convention, my son found a book he liked. As we purchased it the woman happened to mention that the Author/Illustrator was in the “Artist’s Alley,” if we wanted to get it signed.


“Artists Alley” was probably a half of a city block away (inside the Javits Center). It was a mini convention of artists. We walked around trying to find the author. (Above some spidermen in Artist’s Alley.)

We walked past Jake Parker’s table. Hmmm that name sounded familiar. He’s the creator of InkTober!! I went over and said hello. My son said I acted like a fan. Ha ha. Such a coincidence to run into someone who is inspiring my creativity this month.

Check out Jake Parker’s work! My son is a big fan of his graphic novels.



InkTober inspiration


9 days into InkTober and I’m going strong. Some of my sketches I’ve been proud of, some not so much. Some days it takes a while to figure out what to draw. The reference photo above is from Mollie Makes, a creative magazine I love. I find the magazine inspiring even though I don’t sew or crochet or make any of the crafts in it. I think I just like reading about the creative entrepreneurs.

Yesterday I drew our front door. It’s funny the things you end up drawing when you’re doing a drawing a day. If you want to see all my InkTober drawings follow me on Instagram @eileenmckenna. 😀