my creative resolution

Painting, Illustration, Surface Design, and Animation


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Inktober

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I’m participating in InkTober this year. Jake Parker created InkTober in 2009 “as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.” Learn more and see the official InkTober prompts here. It starts Saturday, October 1st!

There is something about fall and Halloween that really inspires me – as you can see from last year’s sketchbook above. For me, InkTober is just some extra motivation. I’m back in a creating groove, which makes me really happy. Anyone else participating?🙂


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Creating a scene

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Now I don’t mean going to a party and ending up with a lampshade on your head! What I mean by “creating a scene” is I’m aspiring to create illustrations that have depth to them. In the past my illustrations and paintings focus on a single object.

I recently saw this illustration on Rifle Paper Co.’s instagram feed that really inspired me. I love how much the simpler buildings in the background add to the illustration.

 

I created the scarecrow on my iPad using Adobe Sketch for the first time. (I’ve been practicing with Adobe Draw). Although I didn’t end up using the more Photoshop-like brushes. I’m still trying to get the apps linked to my desktop. It would be awesome to draw on the iPad and then be able to open the drawing in Illustrator or Photoshop to refine. I think I had a breakthrough. 😀


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A new painting on an old watercolor wash

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This morning I came across a couple of one color washes I painted a couple of years ago. The watercolor washes were backgrounds for a product photo shoot for a client’s Etsy page. I decided I would reuse the washes.
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I thought it would be interesting to use one as the background of a painting. I selected the yellow one and pulled up a photo on my phone that I had taken several weeks ago. At the time, I was out for a run and I was passing an old house surrounded by hedges. I thought it would be a good reference photo if I decided to do any haunted house paintings this year.
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I started by drawing in pen and ink on the yellow. Then I painted the hedges and the trees, and then some of the other areas. Lastly the details on the house. I decided not to turn the house into a haunted house because as it turns out, the house had a secret of it’s own. Not even a week after I took the photo, my husband said to me, “Did you hear about the house in town with the pigeons? They found 350 pigeons living inside the house. The house didn’t even have running water.” I knew right away it was the house I had taken the photo of.

I decided to paint the house the way I saw it. No extra spooky details. Just an old house hidden by overgrown hedges.


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Adding illustration to a logo design. Part 2 – Logo Reveal

I’m so happy to see the logo I designed for the Fall Festival last year back in action this year!

my creative resolution

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Here is the final logo I wrote about 2 weeks ago in Part 1- Adding illustration to a logo design project. This is the logo project where I really put my years of illustration practice to work!

I was really excited about creating something for the city I was born and raised in. They wanted elements of both the City of Long Beach and the Fall Festival (which the logo was for). Who better than someone born and raised there?

I used the boardwalk, which Long Beach is know for, as well as the iconic City Hall building. And I had to include the bay, because after all, Long Beach is part of a barrier island. Our concept is to modify this logo for other events, by switching out the Fall Festival elements, but maintaining the City elements.

If you are interested in seeing more of my design work please visit my website: www.eileenmckenna.com

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The change of seasons and inspiration

imageIt’s a funny time of year. School has started so summer feels over. When I look around the house for something to draw, I see the shells we’ve collected. Every year I say I’ll continue creating in the beach theme after summer ends, but it loses its appeal. I get inspired by the changing leaves, and then the winter sky against bare trees, followed by the beautiful flowers of spring. I guess I’m a seasonal girl. 😀


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Interview with Charlie O’Shields – Creator of Doodlewash and founder of World Watercolor Month and World Watercolor Group

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I am so excited to turn the tables and interview Charlie O’Shields! Charlie has been featuring other watercolor artists from around the globe since he started painting and blogging. Charlie has built an amazing and supportive community of artists who love watercolor.
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Charlie O’Shields is the Creator of Doodlewash and founder of World Watercolor Month (July) and World Watercolor Group. He currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his Parisian partner, Philippe, and a temperamental basenji named Phineas.

What made you start drawing and painting AND posting?

Well, my partner, Philippe, decided to try watercolor and it looked fun so I started doing it with him and I was immediately hooked. I began by Urban Sketching, which was super fun, but ended up just learning many fast sketching techniques, as I didn’t often want to sketch only what was in front of me. I also use a mixture of reference photos and bits of imagination. What I was making, however, wasn’t a studio watercolor painting or an authentic urban sketch. It was something in between, and I didn’t have any group to share it with. I couldn’t fit in entirely with any one tribe, as cool and fun as the people are, so I needed somewhere to post what I made. I called it a “doodlewash” and started posting them on my blog while also raving about the fun of the watercolor medium, however people liked to use it.
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Did you have any previous experience?

I actually have a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art & Art History, but my emphasis was in computer animation. So, I only took 2 drawing classes and one painting class. The painting class was in acrylics and I was horrible at it because I just didn’t like the medium at all. I didn’t realize that was the reason at the time. I thought I just didn’t like painting, so I never tried again until just last year (over 22 years later), when I discovered watercolor.

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How did you motivate yourself to do it everyday?

At first, it was just pure obsession, something new and shiny that I was excited to try every day. These days, all of my inspiration to keep going comes from the many wonderful people who visit my blog and keep encouraging me to paint, sketch, and write more.

What made you decide to include interviews with other artists? Was that something you did from the start? 

I started painting on July 3rd, 2015 and made the blog immediately in my enthusiasm. I told Philippe that he should do the same, because his paintings were beautiful, but he wouldn’t do it. So, 10 days in, I made the first Guest Doodlewash post so I could share his painting. Then our friend Aesha started painting with us as well as our friend Sandrine, in Paris. I posted what they made as well and started meeting others artists online. By July 28th in that first month I created a World Of Doodlewashes post as I’d then featured work from artists in the UK, Australia, and Indonesia. Since that time, I’ve featured over 240 additional artists and counting!

Did you have a vision for the community you’ve created?!

Very early on, I started talking about creating a Doodlewash movement, but I truly didn’t know exactly what was involved in that. I was just overexcited. There were already so many popular watercolor and sketching groups, that I wasn’t sure if the world really needed one more. But there wasn’t yet a group that was based simply around the love of the medium of watercolor that didn’t impose specific rules on how to use it. My vision was to just focus on why to use watercolor. Because it’s lovely and fun! This approach has created a rich and wonderful community with an incredible amount of variety. You can be an urban sketcher one day, a studio artist the next, an illustrator, or an abstract painter and you don’t ever have to worry if it “fits” in with the group. As long as your art features watercolor, it does!

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Getting July named “World Watercolor Month” is such an amazing thing. How did it happen?

I do monthly themes and one of my favorites that I’ve repeated twice so far was to use all those various national and international celebration days as a prompt. There’s always several to choose from on any given day so it’s really fun. For example, I’ve illustrated everything from National Ferret Day to World Cliché Day. But this past April, when I reprised this theme, it seemed odd to me that there wasn’t anything for the medium we all loved. I originally thought to simply get a Watercolor Day created, but not wanting to dream small, I created a submission to National Day Calendar for World Watercolor Month. They receive around 18,000 submissions and only add 30 to their calendar each year, but they liked the idea and so July is officially World Watercolor Month!

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How was the turnout for the first World Watercolor Month?

The turnout was amazing. I thought it would be cool to get a few hundred artists playing along in the first year and didn’t expect many people to discover it. It was an entirely non-profit initiative and I partnered with the Dreaming Zebra Foundation hoping to also help raise awareness for arts education. It was a lot to communicate with no advertising budget and simply relying on word of mouth. But somehow it still worked! Over 4,000 artists joined in on Facebook and there were over 18,000 posts on Instagram!

Any plans for next July or other holidays you plan on starting?

I probably won’t be starting any other international holidays soon. It’s a lot more work than I thought! Though, I’m not sure now why I ever thought creating an international holiday would be easy. As for next July, it will continue to be a 31-day art challenge, but I’m hoping to have more exciting things lined up for participants. I probably won’t know until February exactly what’s coming next. Stay tuned!

I’m really intrigued by your day job – can you tell me more about that?

I’m the Executive Creative Director for a packaging design studio called Venn49. We work with local and major brands on new packaging concepts and designs, primarily for the food and beverage industry. Essentially, we’re an innovation lab. We help people concept ways to repackage their existing brands, as well as coming up with entirely new branded products and/or innovative packaging.

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What are your favorite doodlewashes (done by you)?

I love food illustrations so those end up being some of my favorites. I like my tray of desserts, which I titled My Favorite Dinner Food. And though I normally don’t enjoy drawing people, there was a selfie of just my eye that I rather liked. Usually my favorites are the more recent ones, as I see little things in them that show slight improvement.
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I loved the doodlewash dinner – it was such a fun idea. What is your favorite doodlewash theme so far?

That was probably one of my favorites as well! I just love food! Also, I enjoy sketching it. But, I do really love illustrating those random daily holidays, because it’s always fun to write about them.
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I found you on WordPress and I follow you on Instagram. I know you also have a World Watercolor Group Facebook page and you have a Twitter account. Any I’m missing? Is there a certain platform that you consider your home base?

Doodlewash is on pretty much all of the major social media platforms. When I started, I was active on all of them and realized that’s both insane and impossible to sustain. I then switched to a focus on just WordPress and Instagram, but this has broadened with the creation of the World Watercolor Group on Facebook (which now has over 7,000 members and growing). WordPress is where it all started and where I met my first friends in art. It’s also where my full blog posts live, so it’s definitely my home base.

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How do you continue with a daily doodlewash and daily posting?! It’s impressive to say the least, and I’m sure time consuming!

If you want to form a daily art habit you have to decide how much time you can devote to it and protect that time with your life. Well, not quite that extreme, of course, but you do have to decide it’s a priority. For me, I chose just one hour a day and the hour I chose was Happy Hour. You know, that time after work and before dinner. I figured it was a perfectly named time for making art. While I do often enjoy a glass of wine while sketching and painting, in order to preserve this time for it, I am no longer available to meet friends for Happy Hour and will simply do lunches instead. It’s a trade off, to be sure, but it’s worth it to me and has helped to form a consistent habit. On the weekends, I just slip an hour in wherever I can and if there are no plans I might get a little extra bonus time. My posts are usually written in about 15 minutes, so on average this leaves just 45 minutes for sketching and painting. If it works out, I can sometimes sneak a quick 10 minute base sketch in at lunch and get some bonus painting time, but often it’s just a race against the clock to post before or shortly after dinner.

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You have a knack for storytelling! I read your stories, usually laugh, and then want to share my own somewhat related story. What’s the best or worst story you’ve shared?

Thanks so much! I’ve always loved reading and writing stories so it was naturally going to happen on my blog. I don’t preconceive or edit my posts, so I’m as surprised as anyone as to what actually comes out. Personally, my best stories are the ones that surprise me. For instance, I doodlewashed my dog’s stuffed duck simply because I saw it lying on the floor and a rather nice story of our family came out of that experience. The worst was last December when I got the crazy idea to try a Choose Your Own Adventure month. I remembered those stories as a kid and thought it would be fun to have people choose what I drew next. While the voting part was received positively, I started writing in the style of those stories and the result was confusing and ludicrous. I soon stopped and returned to normal posts and all sanity was restored.
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Any future doodlewash plans you can share?

People have often asked me to create demonstration videos and I’m still toying with the idea. One thing that’s truly different about Doodlewash is that I’m not actually promoting myself as an artist. Art is simply my hobby at the moment and I’m just practicing things. I’m more of a curator who’s promoting other artists. So, in that spirit, I’ve just added a Tutorials section to pull forward the lovely videos of my talented guests and if I get up the nerve to join them, I may start including my own. Beyond that, I’m not sure yet. Like my art and my posts, I never try to think too far ahead. For now, I’m just excited to see where the community leads me.


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Finally a quiet house :)

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The kids are back at school and the house is quiet. It’s the perfect time to get back to painting. Once I set up, I accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.

I took a unfinished painting – a wash of colors – and added a lighthouse. And I started a painting of a little girl at the beach. Looking forward to much more painting time this fall! 😀


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Playing around with Adobe Draw

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Today at the pool I pulled out my iPad and a stylus pen and drew a tree, followed by people in the pool. I’ve used Adobe Draw twice before and it’s something I want to do more of.

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Previously my digital illustration was done by pointing and clicking the mouse in Adobe Illustrator on the desktop. Although I’ve wanted to do more digital drawing, sitting at the computer feels like work, so I usually end up with pen and sketch pad instead.

Earlier in the summer, I notice a scribbly line in notes and started drawing with my finger. After that I read about an artist that uses Adobe Draw and thought, “I need that!” Then I saw a stylus at my mom’s house and ordered one for myself.

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Adobe Draw is awesome because you can work in layers like Illustrator. I haven’t even gotten to the point of opening files from Adobe Draw in Illustrator (to refine them), but I’m under the impression that you can do that, and that they’ll be vector files.

Drawing on the iPad is so quick, compared to traditional materials. Although there are things I’d like to do that I’m still figuring out. I plan on playing around more with this. 😀


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I’ll admit it…There aren’t any daily creative habits going on here :(

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I admire those that have committed to a daily creative practice and keep to it. People like Crystal Moody and Charlie O’Shields and so many others. But I can’t do it. I’ve done it for short spurts – 14 days for Valentine’s Day or 17 days for St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve done numerous consecutive days in my sketchbook but inevitably I break the chain.

I’d like to say, “I don’t have the time,” but that isn’t entirely true. I do have other things going on that take a lot of my time – my family, which includes my 3 kids, and my design and marketing business. But I also find time to binge watch Netflix shows, so time isn’t the whole problem.

I get very focus on whatever project I’m working on. It may be painting, or my sketchbook, or it may be a new website I’m developing, or getting the kids ready for the start of the school year. I’ll have blinders on and that project will be what I do when I have a minute to spare. Sure I’m still multi-tasking all the other stuff, but it can be hard to mentally squeeze something else in. Lately my creative practice feels scattered, like it hasn’t been the focus in a while.

It’s not that I’m not a disciplined person. I run 3 days a week. Eat fairly healthy. I am very disciplined about my work. I work from home for myself. So I guess I need to be.

I know from Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better than Before” that it’s easier when something is a habit. We do it without thinking. There is no internal willpower struggle to do it. I put on my running clothes and sneakers when it’s time to run. I may not be happy about it all the time, but I get out there and do it.

I was briefly in the habit of sketching with my coffee while I waited for the kids to get dressed for school. I’d sit down with my coffee, grab the sketchbook without thinking, and start doodling any everyday object I could find. It was great, and it would get me thinking of things I’d like to paint. This 5 minute habit encouraged more creativity. But inevitably one day I wouldn’t feel like it and the doodling would become only occasionally.

Being creative makes me happy, but right now I feel like I’m only doing the bare minimum. I know a daily habit is very effective for many people. I also know it’s not my personality. Some days I want to dive into creativity and other days I want to, or have to, dive into something else. For me it doesn’t have to be daily, but I need some kind of structure and routine to make sure the creativity happens.

I read in Rubin’s book about bundling habits. Adding something to an already established habit. That’s what I’m going to try now. On the days I go running, I’m going to create. As I get ready for my run, I’m going to set up my supplies. I’ll get the process started and when I come back from my run, I’ll “dig in” and get creative.

How do you make sure your creativity happens?

 


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“Paint quick and don’t overwork it” (note to self)

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There is inspiration everywhere you look at the beach – the sand, sea, and sky. Lately I’ve been noticing the endless supply of figures – in all shapes and sizes. Occasionally I’ll pull out a small sketchbook, but usually I take photos to draw later.

The female lifeguard caught my eye, because that was me 30 years ago! I’m trying to work fast and loose. This is the type of painting that paralyzes me. Afraid to ruin it, I take forever, and if I finish, it looks stiff and lifeless. So, my goal is to push through and finish today whatever the result.

Sketching beach bodies #sketchbook #beach #beachbodies

A photo posted by Eileen McKenna (@eileenmckenna) on