My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


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The Feelings of a Beginner

The feelings of a beginner #creativity #painting I realized this weekend how discouraging it can be to be a beginner. I worked on two very different projects for me. One was a paper diorama. The other was painting two canvases with acrylics.

In both cases I was an unorganized mess. Materials all over. I had the wrong tools. I was literally uncomfortable. And in both cases, things weren’t turning out so great. Self doubt leaked in and I thought, “This is a waste of time.”

I realized this morning that all these feelings were related to being new to something. Thankfully, I had the perspective of the two very different projects. Otherwise I would have thought, “I’m not good at that.” When I looked over at my watercolor setup this morning, I saw all the things these past years have given me – routines, methods, techniques, the right tools, etc. These things make it easier to sit down and create comfortably and not let self doubt in (as much).

If I continue with acrylics or dioramas or any other new thing, over time things will get better and easier. If you are a beginner – don’t give up! Allow time to work out the kinks. Then you’ll have a comfortable “space” to freely create.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek! The perfect gift for beach lovers.

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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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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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Today is a special day

grilledcheese
Today is my birthday! My husband said this morning, “I’ve never meet anyone who loves their birthday as much as you.” It’s true. Even though I don’t necessarily want to get older, I feel like my birthday is a special day. Maybe growing up the youngest of four, I loved when the focus was all on me! Other special April birthdays include my mom – who always makes me feel special on my birthday (and every other day of the year). She is the best. Love you Mom!

You may be wondering, “Why the grilled cheese?” Today is also National Grilled Cheese Day. My friend Charlie at doodlewash, in honor of his April birthday, has invited everyone to “doodlewash” a national or international day. Charlie is a prolific artist and blogger. Not only does Charlie share his art and an interesting story every day, he also shares other artists with us. I always love reading Charlie’s posts. They usually remind me of some detail from my own childhood. And I love learning about the other artists around the world that he features on his blog. I even had the pleasure of being featured on doodlewash!

Enjoy this special day!


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“Create to share” vs. “Share what you create”

crabs
After posting everyday from Feb. 1-14, in the Valentine’s Day theme, I was relieved when Valentine’s Day was over. Last year I found so much inspiration in the challenge to post everyday, to delve deeper into the theme. This year…not so much. Once it was over, I realized I wanted to work on whatever inspired me. I didn’t want to think about posting everyday. I didn’t want to create just to post something. I enjoy sharing what I’m working on, but it’s amazing how different it is to “Create to share” vs. “Share what you create.”

School’s on break this week. It’s snowing as I write this post. It feels like a nice break from our busy life. The break gives me a chance to step back and reflect, and look forward and plan. Or just relax.

I’m not saying I won’t be posting. I just posted a quick sketch on Instagram of the cardinals out in the snow. But now, I feel free to work on whatever strikes my fancy. And learning what those things are, is the interesting part.


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14 Days of Valentine’s Day Art

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Last year I got into the spirit of Valentine’s Day and created art every day, for 14 days, within that theme. I posted my creations on Instagram. It was a great learning experience, as I learned to dig deeper into a theme – once the obvious ideas were out of the way. I really fell in love with Instagram and it’s power to motivate me.

My display of last year’s “Valentine’s Day” work:
valentinesdaymantle

Currently I’m working on a 100 day project. I’m painting the beach. So this year’s Valentine’s Day art looks like this:

Beach Heart painting

Learn more about my beach heart here.

19 Books for Creatives


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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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Starting the year off right with a painting.

penguins
It felt so good, to set up yesterday – take my paints out, tape down the paper, fill the water – just go through the process. I’ve missed it. I’ve painted only sporadically during the holiday season. Setting up is kind of a calming.

I had no idea what I wanted to paint, I just knew I wanted to get back into it. Penguins popped into my head, and orange sunset skies. I looked online for some reference photos and found a great one tagged #penguinlove. I wish I could find the photographer of the inspiration photo. It’s so awesome, I can’t really take credit for the painting. I usually try to take my own reference photos, but there aren’t any penguins here in NY!
penguin

How’s your year starting out? Have you starting on your resolution? 🙂


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Looking back and looking forward on my creative resolution

artistsetup

When I first made “my creative resolution” just before the start of 2014, my mission statement was: “Hoping to draw, paint, and create my way through 2014.”

I just wanted to be creative. I didn’t even know what I’d be working on. My interests were a varied list of painting, working with recycled materials, refinishing furniture, decorating my mantle, etc. The real goal was to be creative on a regular basis, and finish projects. I had a terrible habit of never finishing things. I made great progress in 2014, my interests became more focused on drawing and painting, and I finished almost everything I started, including some old projects.

At the start of 2015, my mission statement was: Continuing my creative journey into 2015.”

I knew I had come so far, and I wanted to keep growing, and learning. I wasn’t giving up. I had a long lists of goals, although this list, wasn’t as varied as the year before.

Things I want to try in 2015:

  1. Linocut
  2. Lettering
  3. Online workshops
  4. Painting on dark paper
  5. Doodling
  6. Video
  7. Patterns
  8. Maps
  9. Digital Brushes
  10. Watercolor Parties

Most of these items, I tried at least once. Some, like designing patterns (surface design), I adopted as a monthly goal. See all my 2015 patterns here.

My mission statement for 2016 is more of a declaration of me: “Painting, Illustration, Surface Design, and Animation.”

I want to continue painting, working on my illustration style, and designing surface patterns. And I want to learn and grow in the area of animation. See my recent post on exploring animation here.

It’s important to look at where you’ve been, and plan on where you want to go. These two years have been amazing for me. I’ve grown so much on this creative journey. I’ve met amazing friends. It has made me feel happy and fulfilled, and I’m excited about what 2016 will bring. 🙂