Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Draw Paint Craft 15 Minutes a Day

The path to regular creativity is to simply draw, paint, craft, or whatever interests you, for 15 minutes almost every day. If you schedule the time, and plan for it – even if you are busy – you should be able to manage 15 minutes of creative time most days.

These brief creative periods reinforce your creative priorities, and allow you to get in the creative mindset – which will lead to more creativity, and longer creative session when time allows.

Carving out 15 minutes of creative time says, “This is important to me.” And it is calming and meditative. As you work creative ideas and plans may form – write down your ideas!

Regular creativity opens you up to inspiration, even during other parts of your day.

Want to explore creativity? 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.

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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!

Draw Paint Craft 15 Minutes a Day the path to regular creativity


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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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Drawing Digitally

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With InkTober motivating me, I’ve been focused on my sketchbook this month. But sitting on the couch this afternoon I grabbed my iPad and stylus pen to get back to drawing digitally. The boy pulling his wagon was the last one I did weeks ago.

The whole feel of drawing on the iPad is different than pen on a page in the sketchbook. It took me a while to get used to it again. And I miss being able to lean my hand like on the sketchbook! Any touch creates lines on the iPad.

I use a ZXU fine point stylus pen which I found on Amazon. (This is not a sponsored post.) I draw in Adobe Illustrator Sketch and Adobe Photoshop Draw because I like working in layers and you can send your files from the iPad directly to those programs on your desktop.

Do you draw digitally? What tools do you prefer? Have any tips to share?


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You never really know how a drawing will turn out

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As you put your pen to the page to make that first mark, you never really know how things will turn out. At least I don’t know. Sure I have a vision in my head, but that doesn’t mean it will turn out that way.

Personally, I don’t really plan much, I get an idea and just dive in and see what happens. If I’m drawing in ink – which I’m doing a lot this month for InkTober – I rarely do a pencil sketch first. Unless the drawing involves a face or body, then I will do some planning in pencil to get things looking “right.”

I was really pressed for time with this “little guy in the leaves.” The inspiration photo was one of my youngest son probably 8 or 9 years ago. I used pencil first to plan things a little – because you can’t erase ink. I was pleasantly surprised with the results in such a short time.

This drawing experience was the opposite of yesterday’s! I was drawing in the car during my older son’s practice. I first focused in on a nearby car. Within a minute or two of drawing the car, it drove off! Without the car there I had a hard time finishing that part. I drew the car in front of me, but my pen started running out, probably because I was drawing upright on the steering wheel. I ended up focusing on drawing the chain link fence. Like I said, you never know what the result will be when you start drawing!

See all my InkTober blog posts:


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Drawing Shoes

In my first adult drawing class about 9 years ago, Eva, the instructor, had us bring in a pair of shoes to draw. I brought in my youngest’s baby shoes. I followed that up with a drawing of my daughter’s ballet shoes, and then one of my other son’s cleats. I still occasionally sketch my shoes. The angles, the foreshortening, the perspective – they are such a great subject to practice on!

Recent shoes

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My first shoes
Please excuse the large watermark 🙂

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“Can I sell this?” can squash creativity

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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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Realizing a Vision

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Sounds awfully dramatic when put this way – “Realizing a Vision.” But, having the ability to translate what I imagine in my head, onto paper, is still a big deal for me. Often things don’t turn out exactly how I envisioned them – but not always for the worse. Once I start drawing and designing things often take on a mind of their own.

With this project, it came out exactly how I envisioned it. It really made me pause. A few years ago I would not have been able to do this. I wouldn’t have been able to create what was in my head. There were a variety of reasons for this – lack of confidence, not persisting enough, and not having practiced enough to achieve what was in my mind – I guess you can call that lack of skill.

It’s kind of funny that I’m making such a big deal about an illustration for a garage sale flyer. But, I think it’s important to recognize milestones.

A friend asked my to design a garage sale flyer for the school. I’m a graphic designer so it wasn’t surprising that she asked, nor was it a big deal for me to bang out a flyer. But, in my mind I immediately saw it as an illustration project. Since I’m currently sketching “everyday objects” every morning – I began to think of all the things one would sell at a garage sale.

I pulled out paper and began drawing. I focused on the individual elements – not on how they would be arranged. I drew the way I do in my sketchbook in the morning – objects going this way and that, repeating an element a few times to get a better version. Then I scanned every page and arranged the objects in Photoshop. I designed the flyer (not shown) in Illustrator.garagesketches

Kind of makes you want to pull out your junk and have a sale, right?

 


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Today is a special day

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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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Creativity breeds more creativity

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I’m already noticing a difference in my level of creativity, just a week after restarting my creative habits. It’s amazing how sketching every morning – often for just 5 minutes – leads to more sketching and painting later in the day. As Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

My creative habits were derailed a month or so ago, when I was busy with a work project. I forget how much I need my own creative projects. Working as a web and print designer, I have the pleasure of being creative with work. The downfall for me is relying on work as my creative outlet. Last month’s work project was very consuming and creatively fulfilling. I barely drew or painted during this time. Everything was great until the project wrapped up, and a new work project didn’t immediately replace it. I was out of the habit of working on my own stuff, so I was left feeling somewhat empty. As I wrote about in this post, I was having a really hard time motivating myself to work on my own projects.

Thankfully I was able to get back to it, although it’s not always easy to stick to it. I need to remember this lesson next time work gets very busy – to make time for my own creative projects, and to stick with my creative habits.

 


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

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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.