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

 

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

Practicing on scrap paper before diving in

finalcone
After the debacle of the sunflower. I decided to practice on a scrap piece of paper before starting a painting of an Echinacea flower. This way I would have a plan on how to paint it.
scrap

The scrap paper coneflower came out pretty good, so I started my painting. I loved the start of this painting. But when I went back to add some details I felt like I messed it up. Why is it that working quick can look great, but sometimes when you work harder at something (more deliberately), you overwork it, and ruin it?
startofthecone

So here I am with a scrap of paper, that several people love, and an unfinished painting. And I am stuck.

I wrote the above 4 weeks ago! Ironically yesterday’s post was “Forcing myself to finish.” This Echinacea flower project is a great example of me not finishing – I felt I had ruined it, didn’t know how to proceed, so I stopped. Two days ago, I pulled it out, added details in ink, and declared it finished.

No matter how a project comes out it feels great to finish!

Forcing myself to finish.

nodiving
One thing I’ve learned about myself as an artist, is that I dive into a project with enthusiasm. I think it’s the Aries in me [read more about that here]. It’s great for starting a project, but for me, a couple of things can get in the way of finishing a project.

  1. I lose enthusiasm.
  2. A new project grabs my attention.
  3. I get worried about ruining a project.
  4. I’m not sure how to proceed because I haven’t planned things out.

When I started my creative resolution I forced myself to finish a bunch of forgotten projects. I also forced myself to finished most of the new projects I started. And I adapted to work within my personality. Most projects I work on, I finish within a few days – before the enthusiasm fades or I get sidetracked (or I get paralyzed worrying about ruining it or I start to overthink the next steps).

Recently I started this pool painting. I forced myself to paint, what I thought of as the hardest part of the painting – the lane lines – before I left for a short trip. I knew that if I could get that step out of the way and left only the pool water and a few minor details, I’d be much more likely to finish this painting when I got back.
nodiving1diving2

Some of the valuable lessons I’ve learned in the last year and half, have less to do with painting and technique, and more to do with how I work. And how to get things finished.

Sketching & Doodling in Summer

beachphoto
Where are the lazy days of Summer? It feels busy. I’m trying hard to squeeze in sketching time, even at the pool. And if I’m at the beach, I’m always taking pictures and thinking about the next painting.

mymornings
More and more, I realize how inspired I am by the seasons. My paintings of flowers have been replaced by beach paintings, pool sketches, and shell patterns. I see other artists online who are working on Christmas cards for the upcoming season. It makes sense – so their products are ready in time, but I don’t think I could do that! I love immersing myself in a season (or theme) and continuing to explore it with each project. I couldn’t put the shells away and start doodling Santas, at least not at this point.
poolsketch

Artist’s Setup

artistsetup
Very quickly into my creative resolution, without really thinking about it, I started setting up my paints and supplies a certain way. A few brushes on a paper towel to the right (I’m right handed), water and cup of brushes above that. Paper or sketchbook in front of me. Above the paper is my watercolor palette. To the left of the palette is the mixing tray. If the table is smaller (like in the illustration) the mixing tray is to the left of the paper. Above the brushes and water is my bin of paint tubes, markers, watercolored pencils, scrap paper, etc. Pretty much anything else I may need. A coffee cup is usually placed near the water, which often leads to mix ups. Fortunately the mix up is I clean the brush in the coffee, not that I drink the dirty water.

Do you have a certain way you set up your painting supplies?

 

settingup mepainting

Digging deeper within a theme

bbq
Sometimes when working within a theme, after you get the obvious stuff out of the way, you can surprise yourself.

I first experienced this when I decided to create and post on Instagram “14 Days of Valentine’s Day” artwork. The first couple of days were easy – hearts! red! Then it started to get a little harder. “What am I going to paint?!” But even though it was harder I found that some of the later pieces were the best ones. (My favorite is the “He loves me…” one.)

The same thing happened with my “17 Days of St. Patrick’s Day” posts on Instagram. At first it was easy – shamrocks! green! Then it got hard. I started thinking, “17 Days is a long time!!” But again, some of my favorite illustrations were created in those later days. When I had to dig a little deeper into the theme. (My favorite is the grouchy leprechaun.)

Yesterday I posted my watercolor American flag for the 4th of July. The weather wasn’t great – cloudy and rainy – so I started to think about what else I could draw. Hmmm. “What do people do on the 4th of July?” BBQ! And so another idea was born.

A Pattern for June – Echinacea

 

echinaceapattern
Just in time for me to design a pattern for June – our Echinacea bloomed. They are one of my favorite flowers. Today I’ve been painting them like crazy! Yesterday I drew a few of the flowers with a really smooth Pentel gel pen in my super smooth Strathmore pad. Today, I scanned them in and arranged and painted them in Photoshop. Hope you like it! 🙂
strathmorepad

See my past “monthly” patterns here: