my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design


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Painting swimmers

Swim meet warm ups. Painting swimming pools in watercolor.

A few years ago I did the painting below. Since then I’ve thought of painting another version of it. Yesterday, I finally did.

Swimming Laps watercolor painting

As I started, I decided to tape off the edges with thick painter’s tape, to create a white border. First I painting the swimmers, so I could add blue (water) over parts of them.

Process for painting swimming pool in watercolor

When they were dry I painted the water. I had marked where the swimming lanes would be and tried to keep the blue in these areas lighter.

Process for painting swimming pool in watercolor

I painted the swimming lines next using a flat brush and red paint and white gouache.

Swimming Laps. Painting swimming pools in watercolor.

I added more blue to darken the water in spots and added white gouache around the swimmers for splash.


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Designing a Summer Print Pattern

Goggles print pattern
I challenged myself to design one fabric print a month this year. Since June is winding down, it was time to get to it. When I first started designing patterns I would sit with a blank page and start drawing. Since then I’ve changed my approach. Now when I’m designing, I go to my sketchbook and paintings and look for artwork I’ve already created that would work well as a repeating pattern.

I’m in a summer frame of mind, so I selected this painting of goggles. Click here to read the details of the steps I take to create a pattern in Photoshop.
Watercolor goggles

I tried designing a pattern with the goggles before, but didn’t have success. This time, I had a new vision. I isolated the goggles, leaving only a little of the blue background and adjusted the colors to create the goggles in every color of the rainbow. I struggled a bit with how to get the design to repeat perfectly when the goggles were in a diagonal line. Sometimes I make things harder than they need to be. So, I revised the design to be a more organic placement and in doing so made it easier to create the repeat. I added a blue background color. I’m excited for the fabric swatch of this design to arrive!

So far my “Swimming Laps” design is my most popular one.
Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

I recently reworked my Valentine squares to become a new “Pool Tile” design. The swatch of this design should be arriving any day.
Watercolor pool tiles fabric print design.
Valentine’s Day Squares:

See all of my fabric print designs in my Spoonflower shop.


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Get back into a Creative Groove

Getting back into a creative groove
After a busy week I was so excited to get back into a creative groove. But sometimes it isn’t so easy to dive right in. I may think about it, write in my notebook about it, but still I can’t seem to get going. Thankfully, I’ve learned steps to overcome this.

How to get back into a creative groove:

  • Start working in a sketchbook everyday.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself. Just play.
  • Work on whatever strikes your fancy. Limitations can be stifling.
  • When inspiration strikes go with it. Don’t wait. Don’t let it pass. Fan the flames of your creativity by going with that spark of an idea.

After a few days, you’ll start to build momentum. Your daily sketchbook work will lead to other ideas. Playing will lead to creating more finished pieces.

And don’t feel guilty because a break can be a good thing. A time to step back and reassess the type of projects you’ve been working on. But I don’t like to let a break go on too long, because it makes it harder for me to get back to it.


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Homemade Portable Palette

Portable palette
On a whim I created this palette – a sliver of an egg carton – so I could easily roam around the yard. I was inspired to play around with the different shades of green and different textures growing in the yard. I’m happy to be back at it after being away!
Portable palette. Homemade art supplies.Have you read:
Art Supplies essential for painting in watercolor


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A Collaboration with Mary of the Daily Sew

I’m so excited to announce my upcoming collaboration with Mary Earle-Sigler of the Daily Sew. Mary is a sewing blogger who created her blog back in 2014 after getting aggravated with pattern instructions. Mary says,

“I started The Daily Sew to encourage more people to sew. To show that it isn’t hard to explain better or add some extra pictures. To help people enjoy sewing. To share what I learned and am learning. To inspire anyone to persevere through a project. To encourage creativity, individuality and great fitting clothes. To eventually see such a large sewing movement that home made clothing is taken seriously and given respect.”

When I first approached Mary, I asked her to pick any of my fabric designs. She chose the “Swimming Laps” design and is planning on creating a bag. I can’t wait to see it! Full instructions will be available so you can make one too.

Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

Mary publishes a monthly newsletter with a sewing tip and useful resources. Visit the Daily Sew to sign up.


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Creative break and a horse farm

Sunset over the fields
Creatively speaking I seemed to lose a week – traveling for a reunion, the funeral services for a beloved aunt, and finally flying from NY to Virginia for the wedding of a niece. The wedding venue was a beautiful horse farm. I’ve loved horses since I was little, although I haven’t had that much contact with them, aside from a week of horse back riding camp in second grade. Sometimes a break is nice and you come back feeling refreshed. I’m certainly ready to get back to painting.
HorseHorse stables


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Fabric Design

Fabric designs by Eileen McKenna. Available for purchase at https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/eileenmckennaI enjoy designing fabric prints and love getting an email from Spoonflower that says someone ordered one. I’m excited to design some new fabrics with summer as inspiration. I have a few collaborations in the works, and am looking forward to seeing some of these fabrics put to use. If you sew, please contact me if you are interested in collaborating.

All fabrics are available for sale at Spoonflower.com.

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.


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Creative Epiphany

Creative epiphany while reading "Crossroads of should and must"
Several years ago I had an epiphany. I read an article about an artist and as I admired her lifestyle – finishing school and dedicating her time to creating art, I wondered, “Who gave her permission to be an artist? Her parents? Her boyfriend? Her teachers?” Sometime later, I don’t know if it was minutes or months, I realized SHE gave HERSELF permission. And the reason I didn’t go to art school wasn’t because my mom questioned the choice, it was because I didn’t believe in myself.

Today I started reading, “The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion” by Elle Luna. Immediately I thought back to my epiphany and the moment I finally gave myself permission to be creative (the catalyst for this blog). Notice I still have a hard time saying “to be an artist.”

In the book Luna makes the distinction between a job, a career, and a calling – “something that we feel compelled to do regardless of fame or fortune; the work is the reward.”

This perfectly explains my desire to be creative. I paint, draw, write, design patterns, etc. because it makes me feel JOY. I don’t do it for others – although positive feedback does propel me forward! I don’t do it for income – although when someone orders a fabric I designed I do feel a thrill. And I’ve been thinking very carefully about selling my work, because I don’t want to jeopardize that joy. I want to continue to make what I feel called to create.

Reading this book I had a second epiphany. I should spend more time doing what brings me joy and stop feeling guilty for the shoulds. The I should work more, clean the house more, etc. Just this week I was thinking about my summer work schedule, and thinking of pursuing additional clients. Instead I’m going to pursue more joy and see where that takes me. 😀

If you’d like to order a copy of the book click here. On a side note – thank you to Yuko of www.honeyberrydiary.com for recommending this book on her blog. Yuko left her job to create art full time! The tagline of her blog is “Do what you love. Be Happy.”

This posts 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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Pink Dogwood Flower Fabric Print

Pink dogwood flower print pattern
I used watercolor paintings from my sketchbook to create this pink flower repeating pattern. I’m keeping my goal to design a new pattern every month this year! See my other designs here.

Do you sew? Designing the fabric is where my skills ends! If you create anything with any of my fabrics, let me know. I’d love to feature you on my blog. See all my fabrics in my Spoonflower shop.

How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.