Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Ready for InkTober?!

Favorite sketchbook and gel pen for Intober | #intober2017

Participating in InkTober is such a motivating experience! I’ve even had the pleasure – by sheer coincidence – of meeting Jake Parker, the creator of InkTober at Comic Con in NYC.

I’m ready! I got a fresh new sketchbook – my favorite kind – the Canson Multimedia. Last year as the end of InkTober drew near, I began adding watercolor to my ink sketches. I couldn’t help it! The Canson sketchbook pages are nice and thick, making them perfect for watercolor. And they are bright white too, which I love. I also have a pack of my favorite pens – the Uniball signo (bold 207). This pen is a gel pen and feels very smooth when drawing with it.

I usually don’t follow the official prompts, but here are the Inktober prompts if you’d like to follow them.

My past Inktober sketches:

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You never know where a 31 day challenge will take you. I’ll probably draw several Halloween themed things because ’tis the season. One year I drew the inside of a witch’s house and then added another floor the next day! I just came across Mab’s Drawlloween Club list, which I might use for inspiration.

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

My new ebook takes you step by step through the process for introducing regular creativity into your life, finding inspiration, and exploring mediums. Learn more about Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

Creative Exploration book -

This posts 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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My 12 Surface Designs – one a month this year!

I’m really proud, and happy, that I followed through on my goal to start creating surface designs. I designed the first one in January, and decided to commit to “1 Surface Design a Month.” That goal, and the end of the month deadline, really pushed me to put in the work.

12 Surface Designs
January – Art Supplies

artpatternrepeat

February – Valentine’s Day
valentine'sdaypattern
March – Gardening
gardeningrepeatfinal2
April – Dahlias
dahliapatternv2
May – Sandcastles
sandcastleEM
June – Echinacea
echinaceapattern

July – Shells
shellspattern

August – Ice Cream Cones
watercoloricecreamcones

September- Feathers
featherspattern1

October – Leaves
leavespatterncolor

November – Nutcrackers
nutcrackersrepeating
December – Toy Soldiers
toysoldiers2_5inchhigh

I’m always asking you, “What’s your favorite?” And I would love to hear, but I’ll also tell you my favorites.

I really liked when I started using the technique of creating the ink lines and watercolor backgrounds separately and then merging them in Photoshop. I started this with the shell pattern. I think the watercolor really adds a depth that you can’t get with Photoshop brushes. I started this technique with the shells, and continued it with the leaves – which is my favorite design in this style.

My other technique is drawing the elements in my sketchbook and adding color in Photoshop. My favorite design, using this technique, is the Toy Soldiers. They are just so cute!

Will I be continuing with surface design in 2016? Absolutely! As you know, I’ve made the Nutcracker and Toy Soldier patterns available on Spoonflower, where you can have them printed as fabric or gift wrap. It is really interesting to see the designs printed and to think about how it will be used. It makes you think about the design, and what works and doesn’t. It’s a different perspective than just seeing it flat on the computer screen.

In the new year, I’ll be adding a few of the other “12 designs” onto Spoonflower. And I plan to continue designing one new one a month!


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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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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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Adding illustration to a logo design project

pettingzoosketches
As many of you know, I am a graphic designer. In the early days (ugh over 20 years ago) I felt insecure about designing logos. I wasn’t confident in my illustration skills. At that time I worked on a lot of text heavy stuff – newsletters, fund reports etc.. Ten years later, I started designing a lot of logos. Not because I was a better illustrator, but because the demand was there. And I got better at working around my limitations. Back then, I would often use clip art as a starting point and edit it to make it work within my logo design.

One of my favorite logos from 10 years ago:
image_14

For these two book covers designed 10 years ago, I purchased clipart then revised it to fit the concept:
image_6 image_7

Over the last 9 years, I’ve been working on developing my fine art skills (and my style). You all know what a passion it is of mine! So, a recent logo design was a bit of a “culmination” of all that hard work. The concept was for a very detailed, and heavily illustrated logo. Many of the elements in the logo, I hand drew, scanned in, and digitized and edited as necessary. Some of the more “architectural,” or square elements, were drawn on the computer.

Here is a sneak peek at a part of the logo (see the sketches above):
pettingzoo

I’m really excited about this project! I can’t wait to show you the final logo… 🙂

If you are interested in seeing more of my design work please visit my website: www.eileenmckenna.com

 


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Doodling over and over

cupcakes
Lately I’ve been using a really smooth gel pen in my sketchbook. I’ll pick a subject and draw it over and over, while watching TV. It’s very relaxing. The doodles usually get better and better as I practice.

As you can see I’m usually watching shows about making desserts! And pretzals are my favorite TV watching snack.

I need to find a similar smooth gel pen that is waterproof – Any recommendations?

pretzals icecream


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A day on the couch feels good.

onthecouch
I was a little under the weather today and spent the day on the couch. I’m usually running around – between the kids, errands, and work. It’s not often that I just sit. Today I put my feet up, flipped through magazines and catalogs, found inspiration, drew in my sketchbook, and watched TV. It was great! Today recharged my battery. Just in time for the weekend. 🙂


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Putting yourself out there

fortune
I started this blog anonymously to feel free and uninhibited. Now I’m ready to share who I am. In the beginning, I told only 3 people and worried what they’d think. My biggest fear was criticism. I think growing up as the “teased” little sister fostered this fear in me. And it has prevented me from pursuing art. Those nagging thoughts – What if I’m not any good? What if someone makes fun of me?

The book, “An Enemy Called Average,” by John Mason really resonated with me. Mason says – if you are going to put yourself out there, expect criticism. I found that very freeing. In the 9 months since I started my creative resolution, I’ve shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were times I wondered, “Should I really share this? It’s terrible.” And I shared it, because I want to be honest about my process of learning and striving to be better. I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. I’m just being me. 🙂