Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


11 Comments

Learning with each painting

finalhydrangea
This Hydrangea was definitely a challenge. But whatever the outcome of a piece there’s still a takeaway – I learn something. When I multiply the number of sketches and paintings I’ve done since committing to my creative resolution (prob. between 315-400) and think of all I’ve learned (big and little things) – I am amazed.

While working on this piece, with all the little details of the flower, I thought, “This is hard.” But, it’s good to try hard things, it makes us better. And sometimes a piece isn’t about the final product, but about the process and the takeaway.

Here are my steps:
Wash, Ink, More Watercolor, More Ink
hwash haddinginkhink2hmorewatercolor

I worry that I overworked the final – too much ink. What is my takeaway from this piece? Hmmm. As I struggled to capture the dome of the hydrangea, I studied the photo, again and again. Should I have planned the piece out more from the beginning? Studied the photo before starting? I’m the girl who doesn’t read the instructions. Who dives right in and then tries to figure things out.

From the start I was fixated on the details of the flower petals – the shapes. In addition to this “detailed” thinking, I should have pulled back and thought about other “overall” elements before starting.


14 Comments

Poppies & Practice

poppy
A few years ago, I went with my husband to MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art) to see an exhibit of Georges Seurat’s drawings and sketches. I was amazed at how many “studies” he did before he painted the famous “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” He painted the lake and the lady with the parasol separately several times. He also did many sketches of the people in the painting.

Yesterday I painted a pattern of Poppies in my sketchbook. Then I did one Poppy on watercolor paper. There were things I wanted to change and improve upon, so I did another version (above) of a single Poppy. I’m really happy with it which shows me that sometimes you have to study and practice a subject to get it right.
poppysketch


11 Comments

Which pattern is your favorite? {Online poll!}

dahliapatternv2
I’m curious…here are the patterns I’ve designed so far this year. Which is your favorite? I’d love to hear! Just a simple click to fill out the poll below. Thanks for your input! 🙂

#1. Dahlia revised. I couldn’t help tweaking the Dahlia/April pattern!
See image above.

#2. Original Dahlia Pattern (April)
dahliapatterngreenw

#3. Gardening Pattern (March)
gardeningrepeatfinal2

#4. Love Pattern (February)
valentine'sdaypattern

#5. “Draw, Paint, Create” Pattern (January)
artpatternrepeat

Thanks for participating in my poll!


2 Comments

The Dogwoods are blooming!

dogwoodphoto
After my run today I had to take some shots of the Dogwoods. The two Dogwoods, on either side of our front walk, have sentimental value to me. They were in bloom the first time we looked at our future home. We posed in front of one of the Dogwoods when we brought our daughter home from the hospital. The house itself has changed – expanded to fit our family that also includes two sons. But the Dogwoods have remained and every time they bloom, I’m reminded of the early days and that this is home.


8 Comments

Dahlia flower pattern {My pattern for April}

dahliapatterngreenw
Whew! Just in time! I’ve been contemplating April’s pattern for awhile now. I originally thought I’d use some of the flowers I created separately with watercolor and put them together in Photoshop. But it wasn’t working – too stiff looking:
otherpattern

So I went back to what has worked in the past. I sketched some flowers and leaves with Sharpie on Bristol (nice and smooth) and scanned them in. I pieced them together in Photoshop, added color, and repeated the pattern. I’m happy with how it came out. I love the loose sketchy feel.
dahliasketches

I tried to stay true to the colors of the plant I picked up at the supermarket. I think it’s a Dahlia. This little plant has been my inspiration all week! I do feel the color comes across a little Christmasy. Maybe it’s the shape of the leaves? I tried adjusting the hue in Photoshop and liked the results, especially the blue!

pinkdahlia bluedahlias

If you’d like to see my other patterns click here. 🙂

 


14 Comments

Spring Flowers in Washington, D.C.

whitehouse
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the time when our garden comes back to life. When I can find beautiful flowers to paint in my own backyard. Last week we took the kids to Washington, D.C. We were lucky enough to catch the Cherry Blossoms in bloom. We took in many of the sites – monuments and museums. We toured the Capitol building and the Library of Congress, which is beautiful inside. It’s like the Sistine Chapel!

Me in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. 
meussupremecourt libraryofcongress
The inside of the Library of Congress.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was a quick visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden. The flowers were beautiful! I couldn’t believe the colors and patterns orchids come in. There is even a cool exhibit on roots. I was so happy to get back home and back to painting! If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve already started painting some of these beautiful flowers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 


19 Comments

Watercolor: Building up the Layers

finalsunflowersketchbook
When I first started working in watercolor I was intimidated by paintings with highlights and shadows. I thought I couldn’t possibly paint several layers. I hoped I could paint one layer and make it good enough. As I got comfortable with watercolor, I realized it’s all about building up the layers of paint. You start out in the ugly stages and as you add, and add, you [hopefully] turn the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. I liked that you built it up, because mistakes could be covered or fixed. Each brushstroke wasn’t make or break. It’s a process.

This is what I was thinking about when I painted this sunflower this morning. How the ugly stage was awfully ugly! And how each layer of watercolor I added made the painting better. Originally I planned to add ink to the flower when I was done painting. As I got closer to finishing, I liked it the way it was. My daughter agreed.
sunphasebsunphase1
sunphase2sunphase5


7 Comments

Color!

burpeecatalog
It may be shades of white and brown in my garden but inside there is color! The Burpee (seed, plant, and flower) catalog arrived. I couldn’t be happier using every color in my palette to play in my sketchbook. There is something very freeing, for me, when I work in my sketchbook. The pressure is off! And my new sketchbook is a heavier weight paper, so it’s better for painting with watercolor.

I’m especially proud of my Zinnia. 🙂

IMG_5648


11 Comments

What to paint?

cherryblossom
I wanted to paint, wanted to get “into” a project, but I had no ideas or inspiration. I couldn’t go outside and take pictures of the garden. It’s covered in snow. Not a pretty snow, a solid, icy, block of snow. As I was trying to come up with an idea, I grab two magazines and remembered the post I wrote about coming up with ideas. Looking through magazines was on my list.

Both magazines had pictures of cherry blossoms in it. This was ironic, because just that morning I booked a Spring trip to Washington, DC, which is famous for it’s cherry blossoms. I was really inspired by a picture in Martha Stewart Living with the cherry blossoms on a dark slate background. I love the look of a dark background. One of my goals for 2015 is to paint on dark paper.

My steps:
cherryblossom1  cherryblossom3 cherryblossom2

cherryblossom4

It felt good to get into my project. My goal was to stay loose and not paint each flower – which is why I started the flowers and buds by splashing the pink on my paper. I wanted the background to be dark. To achieve this, I had to apply a couple of layers to the background. I think buying gouache paint is in my future!

For me this painting is not so much about the final product, but about getting started, and getting ideas flowing again.

I can’t wait for Spring and for the Cherry Blossoms!