Eileen McKenna Art & Design

Watercolor Art | Creative Inspiration to help you be creative on a regular basis


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Forgotten Projects

forgottenprojectsjar
I love starting a new project, but inevitably my enthusiasm wanes and it’s hard to stick with and finish the project . As I look back on my creative projects this year, I’m surprised there aren’t more abandoned projects. I know the reason why. It’s because of you! If I was working privately and not filling you in on all the details, I would be a lot less motivated to finish. So thank you!

I’m of two minds on forgotten projects. One part of me wants to finish them. But the other part of me, thinks I should work on what inspires me. A happy medium between these two “minds” is probably the answer. So, as part of My Creative Resolution 2015, I will (every so often) select a forgotten project and finish it.

I can’t promise I’ll pick these projects at random, or how often I’ll do this – but I do promise to keep you posted. 😉

A few forgotten and unfinished projects from 2014
Dandelion, acrylic 
dandelion

Girl Digging, acrylic
girldiggingrev

Beach Girl, illustration style in progress. Last version – watercolor
beachgirl3

A few abandoned watercolors:
abandonedw

and

A Mirror (that’s buried in the garage), that I was going to sand and paint the frame in an interesting way. It’s been there since June.

BTW – I refuse to add to the “forgotten” list – Christmas Dioramas and House/Door Paintings because I will work on these again! If I remember.


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Painting Wooden Signs

woodproject
Finally, I’m tackling a wood project! I’ve been interested in painting on wood, and creating handmade signs. It was surprisingly easy to walk in to Ace, pick out wood and ask them to cut it. And cheap!

I pulled out the hand sander, which made me feel like a pro, and gave the wood a light sanding. Then I added streaks of different colors and blended them, sometimes adding water to dilute a color. I wanted to create a bleached, weathered look.

wooda woodb wood woodc
I’m happy with how they came out. See how I added lettering to them here.


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Back to School – Back to Acrylics

girldiggingrev
I’m looking forward to the kids going back to school (lol!) and having more time to paint – especially with acrylics! This week I got a jump start and worked on my painting “Little Girl Digging.” It’s been almost 2 months since I worked on this! If I let too much time pass I lose momentum and then it’s really hard to get back into a painting.

Although I haven’t worked with acrylics all summer, I’ve been creative – sketching, painting with watercolor, etc. I’m proud of all I’ve done during these busy months. It will make September, when the house is quiet again, all the more productive.

Here is where I started from:
girl digging step 3
First I worked on the sand and added some definition to the ocean. Then (above) I added color to the ocean.
girldiggingc


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What I’ve learned about art (and myself)

eye
In the last six months, I’ve been on a creative journey. Here are the things I have learned through my creative resolution:

  • Every time I sit down to paint, draw or create – whether it’s a success or failure – I learn something.
  • Looking back at my lists of project ideas, helps me stay focused and complete things. And feel a sense of accomplishment about the things I can check off!
  • Even the most common objects can be interesting subjects – a bottle of windex, the vacuum – lol!
  • Trying again. A couple of times I’ve tried to redo a painting. The second painting wasn’t necessarily better – but you I improved certain things (and lost some things). It is interesting to compare and analyze. A great learning tool!
  • To post or not to post? I went ahead and posted something I felt I had overworked and was honest about it. I loved the feedback I got!
  • A weekly checklist is helpful to cover all the things I want to work on. (But it is okay, every once in a while, to throw it out the window and work on what I feel like!)
  • Learn everything you can when you visit the art store. Look at their website for even more product information.
  • Disposable palette sheets are awesome. Quick clean up, plus I write what paint colors and mixes I used, for future reference.
  • Bloggers are so nice and supportive. Thank you!!! 🙂
  • The resources to learn from other artists are everywhere – blogs, videos.
  • Mixing colors leads to a less saturated color. For vibrant, bright colors – use colors directly from the tube. (It took me a whole painting to learn this!)
  • Developing a style takes time and practice.
  • A project can spark the idea for the next project, and so on and so on!
  • Sometimes I have to force myself to finish. I would love to start new projects everyday. It is fun and exciting, but sometimes I have to buckle down and finish the lingering ones. The feeling of accomplishment is amazing!
  • Hanging my paintings makes me feel good! 🙂
  • Take the pressure off. I don’t sit down to create a “frameable” piece. That paralyzes me! I sit down for a “5 minute sketch” or to play with watercolor.
  • Be open to inspiration – it is everywhere!
  • Dedicate time to being creative. Schedule time, to make sure it happens. Life can easily get in the way.
  • Step away. With a fresh eye, I notice things, I wouldn’t have, when I was deeply involved in the painting or sketch.
  • Try new things. Whether it led to success or failure, I’m growing from trying new things.
  • The computer can be a useful tool – for planning out projects, for analyzing color, etc.
  • Keep track of paint mixes for the next painting session. I found keeping a little leftover, a paint “starter,” is helpful.
  • Painting sand is very hard. Sand is many different colors and textures and changes color as you get closer to the ocean. I’m still working on this!
  • Getting back into a project, after a lot of time has past is difficult. I’m afraid of ruining it and I forget where I was. BUT, once I get started on it again, I can quickly get back into it!
  • Keeping a blog is an amazing motivator and I can look back and see what I was thinking and working through during each creative project!


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6 months of my creative resolution!

watercolors
…and still going strong. In the past 6 months I have accomplished 52 watercolor paintings, 8 acrylics on canvas and 64 sketches! It is amazing to me what writing a goal down can do.

When I first typed the words, “I hope to draw, paint and create my way through 2014!” – I didn’t know what I would spend my time doing. Would I be decorating the house? drawing? painting? refinishing furniture? Imagine my surprise when the first months were filled with acrylic painting – one of the things I have the least experience in! I even pulled unfinished canvases – years old – off a shelf and finished them, like this carrot.

Carrot

Carrot

And one day I decided to add watercolor to my sketchbook and suddenly I was falling back in love with watercolor! I wanted to do more and more things. Each project led to ideas for 10 more! I felt joy and fulfillment.

I certainly had moments when I wavered. The unexpected connection and support from fellow bloggers pushed me on as well as the encouragement from my family who kept saying, “Don’t stop.” Six months in and I’m not stopping. I’m still not sure of my direction, but I’m “finding” myself as an artist and learning a lot along the way.

Thank you for joining me on my journey! 🙂


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Painting a Figure (Little Girl Digging – Part 2)

girl digging step 2
It’s hard getting back into a painting when a week or more has past! I’m so glad I made notes on how I mixed the colors and saved some of each color. It reminds me of a bread starter – not that I’ve ever used one! I added a little bit of my saved color to my new mixes to keep some continuity. I mixed a skin tone color that isn’t as subtle as before. [Not a perfect match – but at this point I’m not going to over think it. I’m focusing on getting the Little Girl’s figure right.] As I painted Little Girl’s body with the new color, she is popping out of my background (above). I tweaked her shape as I painted. See how subtle she was when I started:
girldigging

A few days later, I mixed a lighter sand color and added it to my canvas. Still focusing on Little Girl’s shape, I used the sand color to edit her shape as needed.
girl digging step 3

I’m getting there – slow and steady! lol. Read my previous post – Painting a Figure (Little Girl Digging – Part 1) and see how I started this painting.


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Creating stencils for lettering a canvas

finalbythesea

I finished adding the lettering to my cabana stripes canvas! I played with the layout on the computer:
cabana letters computer
Then I figured out the sizing of the letters and printed them on cover stock. Using an exacto knife, I cut out the letters. When there was a shape inside a letter I left a thin connecting strip (like on the letter b).
stencils1 stencils2

Creating the stencils was easier than I thought it would be. The transparent white was a little too light, especially on the yellow. The letters didn’t pop enough, so I added the brownish glow around them. I’m happy with the end result. Finishing is such a great feeling!


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Painting a Figure (Little Girl Digging – Part I)

girldigging
I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I’m excited about this painting! I started by mixing a grey base color for my sand. I mixed thalo blue, cadmium red, and cad. yellow (as opposed to using black and white) because I wanted the sand to have color in it. I’ve struggled before with painting sand! I covered the entire canvas in this color, even where the ocean and little girl will be.
sandbackground

I added little ticks on my canvas to show where the grid is.
grid on digging

I mixed cad. red and white and added some cad. yellow to get a flesh tone, which I mixed with my base color. I wanted a color that would work as a base for the little girl, that wasn’t far off from my original (sand) base color. This way, I won’t feel intimidated to loosely sketch in the girl. Hopefully, I’ll easily be able to change any area “back” to sand if necessary.
mixingskintone

Following the grid closely, I added in the shape of the little girl. I plan on flipping the canvas over and refining her shape (with the same color). As I start to feel confident in her shape, I’ll start adding colors that will define her and pull her out of the sand. I’m developing this process on the fly – wish me luck!


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Cabana stripes on canvas

cabanastripes
I painted these stripes and plan on adding the words “by the sea.” The stripes make me think bleached/weathered wood, beach, cabana. I was inspired by a small sign I have. I’m going to experiment with layouts and transparency on the computer. Once I have a layout, my plan is to print out the letters and make a stencil. I’ve never really painted letters before. I’m glad I can play on the computer before touching the canvas!

Here’s how I created my stripes.

  • I used a ruler, to make sure the stripes were somewhat straight. First I added the base color of the stripe.
    cabana1
  • While, the base color was still wet, I blended in a lot of white (to make it look bleached) and a little light brown (in streaks). I also added the a thin stripe of the light brown on the edges of the colored stripes.
    cabana2
  • I made the stripes different widths. I wanted it to look like different sized slats of wood
    cabana3

Read Part II – Creating Stencils to add lettering to a canvas


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Easy steps to paint a sunset sky and a tree in acrylic paints

Easy steps to paint a sunset sky with a tree in acrylics

Easy steps to paint a sunset sky and a tree in acrylic paints:

Select the colors you want in your background. I used six colors (see the list below). They can be straight from the tube or you can mix them.

Paint each area of color onto your canvas. I used foam brushes for the background.

sunrise3 sunrise

Next, blend the areas where the colors meet so there is a softer transition from color to color. You may have to add more paint during this step.

Allow the background to dry.

Add the trunk of the tree and then begin adding the branches. Look at a tree. Notice that the branches get thinner as they get further from the trunk, and branches are not straight lines. Using thinner brushes helps with the thinner branches.

newsunrise1

Add more branches until you achieve your desired effect.

newsunrise2

Colors I used:

I’d love to see your sunset painting!

Would you like to: Be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

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Easy steps to paint a sunset sky and a tree in acrylic paints