Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Focusing and following through

newtree
My last post was about “Coming up with Ideas.” A few of you commented that you have no shortage of ideas. This makes sense as Maya Angelou famously said,

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

The “ideas” post was from the early days of my creative resolution. While reading through my old posts, I realized that focusing and finishing were recurring themes. Previously I wasn’t successful with my creative projects because I was always starting and stopping, and never finishing. Which left me feeling discouraged.

I started this creative journey in 2014, by finishing several old projects and doing several projects that I had always wanted to try. Accomplishing these things made me feel good, and so I kept going, with new projects.

I’ve come a long way since then. I try to draw or paint every day. I always shy away from the word “daily” because I’m more likely to paint and draw a lot for a day or two. Do nothing for a day or two, and then get back to it again.

I keep a notebook of “to do” lists and project ideas. I check off things as I go, and look back to see if I forgot anything. I’ll keep an old idea on the list for a while. Of course, I don’t get to everything, but it feels amazing to accomplish something that’s been on my list for months. The percentage of unfinished projects is much, much lower than it was before MCR.

Recently I wanted to be creative, but didn’t know where to start. I literally felt anxious. I sat down and wrote out all the ideas buzzing in my head. When I was done, I felt like I could breath again. Just writing the ideas down, cleared my head, and helped me prioritize. And then I started to create. 🙂


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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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I was asked to be a guest blogger :)

goodmorning
Hi everyone! A little over a week ago, I received a really sweet email from someone in Germany (I’m in NY isn’t it amazing how WordPress connects us?), asking if I would like to be a guest blogger. I have to share with you a part of the email. I was beyond flattered!

“You are the first person I contact for this matter. I would be honoured if you would like to attend my blog as guest blogger, and write about a learning experience, testing a new medium etc. I decided to take this step and approach you after your post about how to make a pattern in photoshop. It’s inspiring, and that’s exactly how I would like my small audience to feel when going through my blog.

I don’t wanna take much more of your time, please let me know if the idea is appealing. I don’t mind if you say no 🙂

Best wischen from Germany – you have fans here!”

Anamaria

Of course I said yes! I decided to write about painting in watercolor. Ana’s response to the topic and post was:

“WOW, thanks a lot! looks awesome and it’s great, it will help me in starting my first experiments with watercolor. Couple of day ago I bought the supplies, and I am ready to give it a try, so your post comes just in time! I always wondered how the “wet on wet” effect it’s made ;)”

Sharing feels really good! 🙂

I hope you’ll visit Ana’s blog. Here is the link to my post: Ana’s Learning Lab


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Writing a checklist to help you achieve your Creative Goals

watercolorinkleaves
I’ve learned so much since starting my creative resolution in 2014. About how important setting a goal is. But, not only do we have to set a goal, we need to outline the tasks that will get us there.

My 2014 creative resolution, or goal, was very simply to “be creative.” Early on I wrote (and adapted as I went on) a “weekly checklist” or a set of tasks that would help me achieve my goal. They were:

My 2014 Weekly Checklist:

  • 3 pencil sketches – “5 minute sketches”
  • 1 watercolor
  • 1 acrylic
  • illustration (children’s book illustration style)

As the year went on I added things like “figure drawing” to my list, and, as I focusted more on watercolor, acrylic painting moved to my monthly list.

My 2014 Monthly Checklist:

  • learn a new technique (from a video, book, etc.)
  • 1 acrylic painting
  • “other” project (furniture, wood, etc.)

My 2015 creative resolution or goal was to “continue my creative journey.” Right from the start of 2015 I wrote a list of things I have always wanted to try. Some of these things were one time “tries,” while others I incorporated into my checklist (see the last three items).

My 2015 Checklist:

  • Try one thing from “the list” each month
  • Create almost daily (and post on Instagram)
  • Paint with watercolor at least once a week
  • Doodle with ink almost daily
  • Design a pattern a month
  • Practice hand lettering at least once a month

As the new year gets closer and closer, I’m excited to set a new goal, a new creative resolution. I’ve grown so much, I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings! 🙂

 


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Drawing what your drawn to. {feathers}

seagullfeathers
I didn’t even realize I loved trees until they kept popping up in my paintings and illustrations. Drawing feathers was more of an accident. I was painting a sunflower when the watercolors bled beyond the shape of the sunflower. I moved on to another version, putting this accident to the side. Over the next couple of weeks whenever I looked at this accident, I saw a feather. Eventually I added ink details to turn it into a feather. You can read more about that “happy accident” here.

Since this “accident,” I’ve draw a lot of feathers, especially over the last couple of weeks. Recently I sketched several feathers in my book. I wanted to add a color background to them, so I started over and drew more feathers on watercolor paper.

feathersinink pencilfeather

For two of the paintings I started with the simple outline of feathers, then painted the backgrounds, and a little color to some of the feathers. I added the feather details in ink after. On the third painting, I painted a feather shape with a pink, purple, blue blend and added ink details afterwards. featherstart

finalrainbowfeather

I have a good feeling my September pattern will end up being feathers! 🙂


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Looking forward to a new season.

leavesonwood
One of the things I’ve learned about myself since starting my creative resolution is that I’m inspired by the seasons. I’m already seeing signs of what’s to come and I’m looking forward to it! Paintings (and sketches) of shells and the ocean will soon be replaced by leaves and trees and other Fall things! I can’t wait for the leaves to change…and the weather to cool down. 🙂

Here are some of my favorites projects from last Fall:

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Results of my “Assembly Line Painting” experiment. {Please vote for your favorite!}

assemblyfinal
I finished the four paintings that I working on in “assembly line” fashion. Click here to read more about how I approached working on these paintings.

Results: The results of the experiment are best described by this analogy: It’s like raising kids. You raise them in the same way – same environment, same food, activities, etc. but they all require different special attention and they all turn out different. And with each kid, you are a bit wiser (and more tired) so you do things differently each time – but maybe not better.

This is the inspiration painting:
bloomwave

The four painting above are numbered. Some of them were “worked” on more. For # 1-3 I used white gouache. As I worked I wasn’t sure what methods would be most successful – more details? more shadows? more white? more variation in color?

I’d love to hear what you have to say! Leave a comment and answer my poll below.

 

 

Conclusion: (Don’t all experiments have a conclusion?) Working this way, really allowed me to explore this type of painting and subject matter in more and more depth. If I had only painted one beach landscape, I wouldn’t have had the chance to try different techniques.

TRY IT! and let me know your results (and thoughts). Link to this post or if you’re on Instagram use #assemblylinepainting. Can’t wait to see! 🙂