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Time to Paint

gerberadaisiesp
It feels really good to have time to paint and draw after vacation (and the time before it – shopping, prepping, and packing). I spent time Sunday starting several paintings. For me, it’s the starting that’s hard, once I have a painting “in the works” it’s easy to pull it out and work on it (unless I let too much time pass).
bike

The three paintings were very different. You’d never guess I started them all at the same time, but they did have something in common. Before I started painting I turned to my Camera Roll on my phone for inspiration. All three were inspired by recent photos I took, or in one case, a photo I spotted on Instagram (that I took a screen capture of).
rooster

The orange gerbera daisies (my favorite flowers) were outside of the supermarket. The rooster roams around outside of my son’s friend’s neighbor’s house. Who knew you could find a rooster this close to NYC? The vintage bicycle with the lilacs was posted on Instagram by Kathleen @fadedcharmliving.
gerbera roosterpic fadedcharm

I’m trying to paint more. I had gotten away from it a bit. Not that long ago, I painted in this square size so frequently I put all the painting together and took a photo. My goal is to create another grouping of square paintings. I have a ways to go!
8inchpaintings

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“Can I sell this?” can squash creativity

tiels)
I used to start creating something, not even finish, and jump to “Can I sell this?” I think I was in this mindset because at the time my creative outlet was my custom invitation/announcement business. This type of thinking was stifling my creativity, and was getting annoying. It prevented me from following through on ideas.

I started drawing and painting and left the invitation business behind. Classes really helped get me going, but after a while I wanted to see what I would work on on my own. What would inspire me without class assignments? But I had trouble motivating myself, so I started this blog. There in my original notes for this blog was “spend 3 months creating then open an online shop.”

I had given myself permission to create whatever I felt like, and to worry about selling later, even if it was just for 3 months. Once I started working at it, projects led to other project ideas. Trying one technique led to the desire to learn and try other techniques. I fell in love with creating. The voice asking, “can I sell this?” got quieter and quieter.

But, I saw other artist selling on different sites, in different ways, and wondered, “what is the best way?” So after ten months, I wrote a post asking for input on “where to sell.” One comment closed the door on selling for me:

Robert McArthur wrote,
“Hi,
I know this doesn’t answer your question, but I do have a string set of thoughts on this that I would like to share with you. Unless you have a pressing financial need to sell your work, I feel it is best to not consider selling your work. Instead focus on your art. Do you need to sell? If so ignore this. Otherwise, the need to make your work marketable will, if even subconsciously, cause you to change what you do, thus preventing you from freely developing naturally.”

My reply was,
“I appreciate your comment! I have been thinking the same thing. As I think about selling, I’ve been playing around with creating things that are more marketable. Just as you say, it’s affecting what I create. I really enjoy playing and creating whatever comes to me. I love how the final piece can be so unexpected (to me). If I continue in this way, I risk taking some of the joy out of creating. And the pieces I really love I wouldn’t consider selling! Thank you for writing what I was thinking.”

Robert McArthur had put into words that “thing” that had previously ruined my creativity. I was having so much fun creating I didn’t want to ruin it. And spending my time filling orders didn’t sound fun either.

Currently my state of mind is that my business is print and web design. But, I draw and paint because I love it. It brings me joy. I create patterns because I think it is fun to turn illustrations into patterns, and I love seeing those patterns printed. (My patterns are available for sale, but that wasn’t the motivation in creating them.)

It is very freeing not thinking about selling or what other people are doing. Although those paintings are piling up. Never say never. 😉

 


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New Year, New Banner

2016banner
I thought it would be appropriate to design a banner that better represented what I do. So, why not a sketch of my painting setup? I’ve kept my bear in there, on the can holding the brushes. If you are wondering what’s with the bear – read my about page.

The New Year, has given me a recharge. I’m more committed to being creative than I was at the start (of 2014). I’m excited to pursue all the different things I’m interested in (painting, illustration, surface design, animation). I’m trying to doodle in my sketchbook every day. I ask myself for only 5 minutes. Even on the busiest days, I can spare that right? It’s relaxing, and it allows me time to come up with ideas. I usually do it early in the morning, while I wait for the kids to get ready. It puts me in a creative mindset for the day. And because of that, I usually end up creating later in the day.

Hope your New Year is off to a creative start too!

 


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Painting Winter with Gouache

snowman
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reaching for the gouache paints. It started somewhat unintentionally when I decided to paint a nighttime snowy sky. At first I thought, I thought I had to keep the snow areas white (paper), so I was leaving white circles as I painted the black sky. Which was tedious! I was so happy when I started to flick white gouache paint onto the black and it was much more opaque than I was expecting.

Flicking paint is one of my favorite things. 🙂

After that, I continued with this dark snowy sky in several of my paintings.houses

I started playing with gouache paints back in June. See the June posting, and learn more about gouache paints here.


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10 ways to find inspiration for your creative projects

10 Ways to come up with ideas for your creative projects
I originally wrote a version of this post just one month into my creative resolution. Almost two years later, many of these ideas still work for me! The biggest change since then? The inspiration I get from others through social media.

Ten ways to find inspiration for your creative projects:

  1. Scroll through your feed or do a search on WordPress, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – there is so much to look at and be inspired by!
  2. Take a walk. Whether it is a walk in a nature preserve, along the beach, or through the neighborhood, you’ll notice things you’d never see driving by. And if you see something inspiring – take a picture!
  3. Find a photo. Look in magazines, catalogs, or your own photo library. Keep photos you like in a folder or hang them on a corkboard. Search Google or any social media. Virtually save links using tools like Pocket or pin stuff to your Pinterest boards. See mine here!
  4. Go to the library – where there is an endless supply of art and how-to books, and magazines on any subject.
  5. Learn about other artists. I love reading about other creative people, no matter how different their craft is. Each artist’s creative process, and how they got their start is so interesting. (Two great podcasts for this: What’s your story and While She Naps.)
  6. Just start. Once I get started drawing or painting, the ideas come. Sometimes ideas come to me, by just setting up!
  7. Keep a list of project ideas. I keep a notebook with an ongoing list of ideas and refer to them when I’m stuck.
  8. Look through old sketchbooks. I try to keep everything, because I enjoy seeing the progress I have made. Sometimes I find the start of an idea.
  9. Have coffee with friends. Find a creative friend, or two, and get together with them. When you share your ideas with others, you can get great feedback, and different points of view.
  10. Sit outside. I am so inspired by the Seasons – Spring flowers, the beach in the Summer, Fall leaves. I’m even inspired by the bare trees against the Winter sky.

Ideas can come at any time from unlikely places. Soak them up! I’ve gotten ideas for paintings while watching TV, eating breakfast, etc.

Read –

19 Books for Creatives


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My Art Supply Closet

 One of the ways I’ve been able to incorporate creating into my daily life, is by having my supplies close by. I use a closet close to the kitchen table for storing my paints, brushes, paper, sketchbooks, inspiration magazines, and more. It makes it so easy to pull stuff out and work. Clean up is quick too. Since I recently organized my art supplies, I decided to give you a peek! Happy Sunday!


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Be creative! It will super charge your senses

change
One of the side effects of living a creative life is your senses become super charged. Plainly stated you notice things. On a recent walk with a friend, I stopped her a few times to say, “Look at that!” Her response, “I forgot I was with an artist.” I was finding beauty in things she didn’t even notice. I mean just look at these flowers!
dahliaonwalk

I love this “stop and smell the roses” mentality. As a runner, I see things all the time that I’d never notice driving by in a car. I often stop running and snap a photo. A common caption on my Instagram is “Found during my run.” Many times these photos are inspiration for my paintings.

I’ve realized over the last year and half, how much the seasons inspire me. Here in New York, the leaves are just starting to turn. I see hints of it here and there. And I can’t wait. My recent artwork reflects how Fall is inspiring me.

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I’m already doodling Halloween stuff in my sketchbook…can’t wait to share! 🙂


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Watercolor Leaf {A how to craft project}

Easy Watercolor Leaf Tutuorial | fall crafts | #fallcrafts
This is one of my favorite Fall projects! Give it a try and share your results, either in the comments below or on Instagram – tag me: @eileenmckenna.

Supplies:

  • heavyweight watercolor paper – I used Fluid Easy Block
  • watercolor paints (3 colors – light, medium, dark. I used yellow, orange (or red), and brown.)
  • water
  • paintbrushes (1 thick, 1 thin)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • leaf (for shape and inspiration)

Steps:

  1. Trace or draw leaf onto the watercolor paper
  2. Cut out the leaf shape
    leaf1
  3. Use paintbrush and water to wet one side of the leaf shape
  4. Soak up yellow paint from your palette, with a very wet brush (you can even dip the brush into the water after absorbing the paint)
  5. Paint the entire leaf yellow (or a light color of your choice)
    leaf2 leaf3
  6. With a wet brush, absorb the orange paint and paint the edges of your leaf. The orange will bleed into the yellow – this is a good thing!
    leaf5
  7. Use a thinner (and not as wet) brush and absorb the brown paint. Paint thin lines onto the leaf. (Copy the veins from your real leaf.)
    leaf6
  8. Allow the leaf to dry a bit. (The dryer the paper is, the less the paint will bleed.) Then, add more thin brown lines.
    lastleaf

When I first showed my kids my painted leaf, they thought it was a real leaf!
Have fun! Can’t wait to see what you make. 🙂

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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Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!
The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints


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Assembly Line Painting {an experiment}

assembly
I recently had some success with a fairly quick beach landscape. The blooms that unintentionally formed and looked like crashing waves was a large part of the success. I was curious if I could recreate this and decided to set up several boards (watercolor paper taped to cardboard) to paint all at once. My plan was to paint specific sections in each painting, one right after the other, using a similar process.

The process:

  1. With blue watercolor pencil, draw horizon line
  2. Paint the sky
  3. With grey watercolor pencil define edge of the water and paint it
  4. Paint deep part of the ocean
  5. Add water at edge of the deep ocean to get sucked into deep part and create blooms (crashing waves)
  6. Add finishing touches

 

As you know, I’ve set up personal painting parties before, where I get started on several paintings at once. Usually the paintings share a common theme or inspiration. But this is the first time I’ve attempted several versions of the same painting at once. Immediately I noticed that I was learning nuances or experimenting a little on each painting in an attempt to make it better. I knew from the start that they would never be identical, which is something I didn’t want anyway.

This year I’ve seen, several times, that digging deeper in a theme can lead to better results. I think the same is true here. I’m learning by painting the same thing over and over.

At this point each painting needs some special attention and some finishing touches. I’m not sure I can do this step at the same time. We’ll see. 🙂

Hoping for some “bloom” waves:
bloomwaves


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A Sunset and Gouache Paints

watercolorsunset
I’ve wanted to try gouache paints for a long time. Since reading about Illustrators who used them, and having no idea what they were. [Gouache paints are opaque watercolors.*] Two months ago I bought a little box of paints to try, but still hadn’t opened them! The other day on a whim, I decided to give them a try.
gouache

I’d heard gouache were like watercolor, but thicker, and can create more saturated colors. I was inspired by the sunset after a storm recently (see the photo below), so it seemed the perfect time to try them out.
sunsetphoto

I’m not sure I needed to, but I used “India Ink” for the trees. I wanted as dark a black as I could get. In retrospect, I should have at least tested the gouache black to see if it could achieve this. I love the richness of the colors the gouache paints gave me!

Gouache description, courtesy of Blick:
Gouache is an opaque watercolor paint. Whereas transparent watercolors allow you to see the “white” of the paper below the paint, gouache can be applied in solid colors. This allows an artist to paint in layers from dark to light.
Gouache dries to a matte finish, which makes it easy to scan or reproduce electronically, since there is no glossy shine. Designer’s Gouache traditionally offers colors blended from a number of pigments, but some lines of Artist’s Gouache offer single-pigment colors. Student Gouache will have working characteristics similar to Designer’s Gouache, but with lower pigment concentration, less expensive formulas, and a smaller range of colors.