Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Revisiting an unfinished painting.

girldiggingnew
I’ve been playing around with what I’m calling a “practice canvas” (see below) – a painting I never finished, didn’t like where it was going, and recently started mindlessly dabbling with (on). I’ve enjoyed this. While I’m comfortable with watercolor, acrylics still feel new to me. Playing around with this “practice canvas” has pulled me back to acrylics and to another unfinished painting.

Here’s the practice canvas, although now it is unrecognizable!
  practice1 practice2

Looking through my other canvases, I found an unfinished painting I call “Little Girl Digging.” Even though, I was happy with progress on this painting at the time, I set it aside. Probably because after “sketching” out the figure I wasn’t confident on how to proceed.
girldiggingrev

So this past weekend, I decided to work on it again. I wanted to see if I could get the little girl to pop off the sand. I had some success (first picture in this post), so I’m motivated to continue working on it. We’ll see! 🙂


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Forgotten Projects

forgottenprojectsjar
I love starting a new project, but inevitably my enthusiasm wanes and it’s hard to stick with and finish the project . As I look back on my creative projects this year, I’m surprised there aren’t more abandoned projects. I know the reason why. It’s because of you! If I was working privately and not filling you in on all the details, I would be a lot less motivated to finish. So thank you!

I’m of two minds on forgotten projects. One part of me wants to finish them. But the other part of me, thinks I should work on what inspires me. A happy medium between these two “minds” is probably the answer. So, as part of My Creative Resolution 2015, I will (every so often) select a forgotten project and finish it.

I can’t promise I’ll pick these projects at random, or how often I’ll do this – but I do promise to keep you posted. 😉

A few forgotten and unfinished projects from 2014
Dandelion, acrylic 
dandelion

Girl Digging, acrylic
girldiggingrev

Beach Girl, illustration style in progress. Last version – watercolor
beachgirl3

A few abandoned watercolors:
abandonedw

and

A Mirror (that’s buried in the garage), that I was going to sand and paint the frame in an interesting way. It’s been there since June.

BTW – I refuse to add to the “forgotten” list – Christmas Dioramas and House/Door Paintings because I will work on these again! If I remember.


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Beach Lover Wooden Sign

beachlover
I bought a piece of wood and had it cut into pieces at the hardware store. Using acrylic paints – teal and white – I added streaks of both and blended them, to get achieve a beachy, sun bleached look.

Wooden signs
I set up the lettering on the computer and outlined it. Last time around I cut custom stencils which was a lot of work. This time I found advice on hand lettering. I laid the printout on the wood and using a hard stylus pen (from my kid’s old DS), traced the outline of the letter. When I was finished I could see the outline impression on the wood.

Following the outline impression on the wood, I painted the letters black. When they were dry, I painted white steaks over the letters with a very dry brush to capture the distressed look. I’m happy with the results!

Click here to learn more about how I painted the background.


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Painting Candy

Happy Valentine’s Day! When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of love…just kidding…I think of candy!! I love candy. I love sweets. I am a sugar addict. Recently, I was looking through my artwork and I had to laugh at all the sweets I’ve drawn and painted.

Colored pencil:

gumball machine cupcake

Acrylic paint:

hard candy

My favorite candy is Tootsie Rolls. Years ago, I started a painting of Tootsie Rolls and of course, never finished. I decided to dust it off and finish. Sometimes it’s hard going back to an old project. I’ve learned a lot since I started this painting. If I was doing it from scratch today, I would paint it differently.

Tootsie Rolls tootsie1

I decided not to over think it, and move forward with what I have. It was an ambitious project, from the beginning, trying to paint the lettering correctly. That is probably why I put the project aside – I got to the hard part. Originally, my plan was to print something to use as a stencil for the lettering. I’ve decided not to do this, but to do my best, and freehand it. I wish I had a bag of Tootsie Rolls to inspire me!

I used a small stiff brush and white paint, that wasn’t too heavy. I decided to sketch in the placement of the letters and then, fill them in. I realized my Tootsie Roll shape was too long, but as I said, I’m trying to do the best with what I have.

tootsie2 tootsie3 tootsie4 tootsie5

I also realized that, there are letters all over the painting, not just on the primary Tootsie Roll. Ugh, I don’t think I’m going to do those too. I’ll have to tone down the Tootsie Rolls in the background. So, they are not so obvious. I’m also going to have to mix more brown paint, whether I want to or not. I stacked my canvases, probably not a wise idea, and they stuck together in spots. When I separated them, the paint came off.

This project reminds me of the artist who paints in Walmart. He literally pushes his supplies around in a shopping cart and stands in the aisles painting. I especially love his close up paintings, of different packaging.

I filled in the letters a few times, then I mixed brown and refined the edges of the letters. I applied the brown all over, then, mixed a lighter shade to put on the front side of my Tootsie Roll. I used a brownish white for the “Roll” letters on the farther side of the Tootsie Roll. I went over the main Tootsie Roll letters on the front side again. I was getting a little crazy with it. I knew it wasn’t perfect. I tried to remember the “Walmart” artist, and how he paints the logos very loose. I put a brownish wash over the letters to tone down the white.

tootsie6 tootsie7 tootsiealmost

I had to touch up one area, of the letters, that was driving me crazy. Okay now, here is the final painting. It’s probably the Graphic Designer in me, but I find packaging interesting. An idea for the next painting – a can of Redpack Tomato Puree. How very Warhol that would be!

Tootsie-Roll-final


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Is my astrological sign affecting my painting?

I had a bit of an epiphany, while I was working on my apple painting. I’ve written, several times, about how I get anxious on day two of a project. As I wrote in my last post,

“(On) day one, I’m excited and enthusiastic. Day two, I’m reluctant, anxious, intimidated…I have to push myself to continue with a project.” I forced myself, to get back to work on the apple painting, and as I worked, I came up with a plan for the next day. “I realized having a plan, made starting up easier. I didn’t feel as intimidated. Also, I know from experience, once I get started, I’m usually fine. I now know, that, before I step away from I project, I need to have a plan for the next day.”

I decided to search online, for traits that apply to my sign, Aries. I’m not that into astrology, but I couldn’t believe how dead on the description of Aries (on Huffington Post) was.

Aries motto is “Ready, fire, aim!” It may be backwards for others, but you’d rather figure out what to do while you are doing it. Impulsive actions, however, can bring you your share of trouble. While others are gathering information to make informed decisions, you are already on your way. As such, you could suffer from false starts. In fact, you Aries are so good at starting things that you can be off onto your next project before completing the previous one. As you Aries mature, you learn to slow down your reaction time in order to think about the consequences of your actions.”

That is totally me! Whenever, I try to put something together, and hit a snag, my husband will say, “Did you read the directions?” I, of course, am like, directions? Who needs those?! Obviously me, that’s why I’ve hit a snag!

The part about starting projects, but then moving on, really hit home. Since I started mycreativeresolution.com, I’ve been forcing myself to finish projects and it has been really satisfying.

For me, the “Ready, fire, aim!” motto, is so true, and may be the reason, I had all those unfinished paintings. I start a project, but get to a point, where I’m not sure how to finish. Instead of working through it, I put the project aside. This just reaffirms how important “a plan” is (and yes honey, those instructions). I will no longer, step away from a painting, without thinking about what the next steps are.

Today, I finished my apple painting. Words can’t describe how good it feels. I was a little nervous finishing, because I felt so close, and I didn’t want to ruin it. But, I had a plan (to add paint to the stem and the area behind the stem) and I executed it. Yeah me!

apples

I also started the jellyfish painting, that I’ve been planning, since I took this photo. I covered the canvas in a medium tone blue/purple. The plan for next time is, to sketch in (with paint) the jellyfish and then add the water around them. I’m excited!

jellyfish basecolor

Check out your sign’s traits at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/horoscopes/

  • Select your sign
  • Scroll down to “about the sign”
  • Enjoy! Let me know if anything rings true for you!


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I wish there was an “undo” button, while I’m painting

I was very excited to try out my new easel. I was less excited, to continue painting my apple. I need to coin a phrase, to describe the feeling I get, on day two of a project. Day one, I’m excited and enthusiastic. Day two, I’m reluctant, anxious, intimidated. Whatever the word, I have to push myself to continue with a project. Do other creative people feel this way?

Regardless of how I was feeling, I got to work on my apple. I set the easel up near the window, for natural light. Logistically, it was a nightmare. I was so far away from my palettes, with my mixed paint. And even further from the computer, where my reference photo was on the screen. (The color is never as good when I print it.) I stood at my easel, and every time I tried to get closer to the painting, I’d kick one of the legs and the whole easel would tilt.

I was working on the bottom quarter of the painting, the table, where the apples sit. In order, to be able, to paint the bottom edge, I turned the painting upside down. My acrylic painting teacher told me, to make an area (like a table) less flat looking, paint it dark to light or warm to cool (or the reverse of either). I decided to darken the table as I got closer to the apples. I also added in some greens, for the stem and the area around the seeds.

I was, feeling all over the place (literally), and I was in a rush, as I had to leave the house at a specific time. As I was adding a bit more paint, before I left, I literally said out loud, “I have to stop, I’m ruining it.” Before I left, I turned the painting right side up.

While I was out, all I could think about, was that I ruined the painting. I loved it the first day. Maybe I shouldn’t have done the gradual darkening of the table? Maybe I should have left it “flat” looking? Isn’t that a painting style?

I wish there was an “undo” button. When I work, as a Graphic Designer, any time I don’t like the last couple steps I’ve taken, I just click “Edit, Undo.” There is also “Edit, Step Backward,” and “Revert to Saved.” Basically, there are tons of ways, to go back to where you started. Sometimes, while painting, I wish I had one of these options.

A funny thing happened when I got home. I turned on the light, saw the apple painting on the easel, and thought, “Wow, it looks good!” I was so surprised.

A couple of days later, when I had time to paint, I knew what area I wanted to work on. I realized having a plan, made starting up easier. I didn’t feel as intimidated. Also, I know from experience, once I get started, I’m usually fine. I now know, that before I step away from I project, I need to have a plan for the next day.

Working with the easel, was much better, the second time around. I printed my reference photo and hung it near the easel. I brought my palette to the easel, instead of walking back and forth. Be prepared to laugh. I realized the curved area on either side of my easel, is so I can comfortably hold it! I sat on a stool and didn’t kick the easel once!

palette

As far as the painting itself, I darkened the background directly behind the apples. I added details to all the apples. The only thing I need to finish, is the stem and the area behind the stem. That is my plan, and I am excited to attack it next time!

applepainting