my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design

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Goggles! Another pool themed fabric

Pool themed fabric designs - Swimming Laps, Pool Tiles, Goggles. Fabrics for all the swimmers!

Hot off the Spoonflower press! My “Goggles” fabric has arrived. So excited for the addition to my pool themed fabrics. The “Goggles” design joins “Swimming Laps” and “Pool Tiles.”

Where are all the quilters? These fabrics would be great for a quilt for a swimmer. You can order them on Spoonflower, just click here to visit my Spoonflower shop.

I’m waiting patiently for the swatch of the newest addition to my beach fabric family! Stay tuned. 😀

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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…h-into-your-home/


Perfectly Imperfect Lines

Perfectly imperfect black lines - adding lines with a smooth black gel pen
I used to be afraid to use markers or ink pens. The black lines were so permanent compared to pencil lines I could easily erase and fix. I thought the lines had to be perfectly straight, circles had to be perfect curves. That’s not easy to do!

Even though I was afraid of ruining my watercolors, a few years ago I was inspired to start adding lines using a smooth black gel pen – a Uniball signo. My lines were wobbly, my circles egg shaped. I began to see that perfect lines were boring. Imperfect lines look hand drawn. Where perfect lines look almost computer generated, imperfect lines have a bit of style. I still wince occasionally when I start adding lines and they look a bit wonky, but I’ve learned to go with it and embrace the imperfection.

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands 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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A Painting from Start to Finish

Watercolor Swim Race by Eileen McKenna.

On your mark, get set, go! First, I painted the swimmers, lane lines, etc.

Step 1 Painting swimmers

Then I added the water.

Step 2 painting swimmers

Then more water, especially around the swimmers.

Step 3 painting swimmers

Lastly, details to the line lines and white gouache for splash around the swimmers, and I reached the finish line. 😉


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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Inspiration behind the Enamel Beach Pin

Beach Pin - 1" enamel pin by Eileen McKenna
I sketched an idea for a beach pin on a post it note. It was a simple illustration of the perfect spot at the beach. To show my love for the beach and summer. I added a rainbow umbrella as a nod to my dad, who always had an umbrella attached to the arm of his beach chair.

I first started drawing the design with a stylus on my iPad, but I wanted crisp straight edges, so I switched to the desktop and the mouse. The black lines in the illustration indicated where the metal of the pin will be – I chose gold. (The colored enamel is in the areas between the metal.) I love enamel pins because they are dimensional illustrations!

I’m was so excited when the beach pins arrived and one came on a trip to the beach. Look how good it looks on my beach hat!
Beach Pin - 1" soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
Beach Pin – 1″ soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
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U.S. orders only.

Order one and pin it to your hat or bag. It’s the perfect way to show your love for summer and the beach. Wear it on your beach hat, pin it to your bag, or add it to a bottle of wine with a ribbon.
Beach Pin - 1" soft enamel pin with rubber clutch. Celebrate summer!




Parting with originals

Original beach watercolor landscape by Eileen McKenna
Yesterday I finished this painting. It went through an ugly stage and was at risk of being abandoned, but I recently picked it up again and continued to work at it. I really like the big border I left – made easy by using thick tape on the edges. As I was finishing it, I was thinking that I liked how it came out, but I wasn’t emotionally tied to it and would be able to part with the original.

Then I looked at it again and thought, nope I don’t want to part with this one! This seems to be a common occurance for me. I want to sell but don’t want to part with the originals. Recently I met with an art print company. They make giclee prints. These high quality prints seem to be the perfect compromise. I can sell but keep the originals.

I’ve been looking through my paintings to find a few favorites to start with. I’ll keep you posted. 😀

Have you seen the beach pin I had made from an illustration of mine? Perfect for your beach hat or bag! Click below to order one.
Beach Pin - 1" soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
Beach Pin – 1″ soft enamel pin with rubber clutch
PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!
U.S. orders only.


Time, a Clear Head, and Creative Productivity

Creative productivity
I sometimes complain that I don’t have enough time. Summer break has started and the kids are at swim practice for only two hours each morning. That is a huge difference from the six hours they were at school. But I’m still feeling very productive in my work and creative projects. How is that possible?

I have more to do. When I have one straggling little project, I’m not motivated. For some reason when I have multiple projects going on it lights a fire under me. Just this morning I noticed that with each item I checked off my list, I was motivated to tackle the next item.

I’m not being pulled in a million directions. If things are busy in a few areas I can focus on them. Entertain the kids, do my work, take care of the household tasks/errands, work on my creative projects. A few weeks ago there were tons of end of year school things to prepare for and attend, etc. That made getting to the other stuff hard. Life is feeling simpler these days.

It’s the quality of the time not the quantity. I’ve had plenty of free afternoons where the most I accomplished is binge watching shows on netflix. If I have a clear mind I can be creative. Mornings are my best time. And being creative leads to more creativity.

Strike when the iron is hot. If I have any idea for a blog post or thoughts for the next issue of my newsletter, I try to embrace that and write it then. I’m most productive when I’m called to work on something than when I have to do something.

I’m more productive when time is limited. Give me an open week and I’ll struggle with when to do what. Give me a small window of time, like 2 hours when the kids are at swim, and I’ll hit the ground running.

I’m a list maker in all aspects of my life. When it comes to my creative projects, I have a general list I look at often, to make sure I’m working on all the areas I want to work on.

My Creative List

  • Fabric Prints – at least one new design a month
  • Enamel Pins – summer pin coming soon
  • Painting
  • Daily Sketchbook Work
  • Writing blog posts – at least 2x a week
  • Create newsletter – My Creative Collection – every other week

Marketing List

  • Continue exploring having art giclee prints made
  • Create a shopping cart to sell prints, etc.
  • Post on Instagram several times a week
  • Pin on Pinterest daily
  • Include affiliate links when it works with content

How do you stay productive?