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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I’m thankful I finished this project!

givethanksfinal
I finally got around to finishing this. I started it back in the summer, when I painted the background for two signs. One sign became my “beach lover” sign, which I finished over a month ago. For this sign, I wasn’t sure what to do with it, what words to paint on it – Fall harvest? With Thanksgiving getting closer and closer, I decided on “give thanks.”

Two years ago Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning. My siblings, parents, cousins and my aunt were all affected by Superstorm Sandy. They all had major renovations to tackle and some of them couldn’t even live in their homes. Living 20 minutes away, our home was unaffected. So Thanksgiving 2012 was here at our house. We hosted around 40 people. I wasn’t stressed at all. I knew everyone would be happy, just being together in a warm, dry place. There was no need to sweat the small stuff. Although they suffered damage to their homes, everyone was safe and that was definitely reason to give thanks.

Technique:
I used the same technique for the lettering as last time. Using the side of the pencil, I quickly colored on the back of my printout. Then, I flipped the printout over and taped it to my sign. With firm pressure, I traced the letters on the printout, using a Nintendo DS stylus pen. I peeled the printout off and, using the light pencil marks and indentation as a guide, I painted the letters. After the letters were dry I added a little white for effect.

thanks1thanks1b    thanks2a thanks2thankspaintthanksalmost


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Back to School – Back to Acrylics

girldiggingrev
I’m looking forward to the kids going back to school (lol!) and having more time to paint – especially with acrylics! This week I got a jump start and worked on my painting “Little Girl Digging.” It’s been almost 2 months since I worked on this! If I let too much time pass I lose momentum and then it’s really hard to get back into a painting.

Although I haven’t worked with acrylics all summer, I’ve been creative – sketching, painting with watercolor, etc. I’m proud of all I’ve done during these busy months. It will make September, when the house is quiet again, all the more productive.

Here is where I started from:
girl digging step 3
First I worked on the sand and added some definition to the ocean. Then (above) I added color to the ocean.
girldiggingc


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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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Mixing Colors – acrylic painting

I decided to dedicate a few hours today to painting in acrylics. But, I wasn’t necessarily going to focus on my current painting, bike on the boardwalk. I came up with the idea of setting up a couple of canvases on my table and moving from one to another. This way when I inevitabley got bored of a painting, or felt stuck, I could work on a different one. I thought this idea was quite genius!

I looked through my old canvases and pulled out a painting of a carrot, that I had started years ago, but never finished. I grabbed a blank canvas, that I had plans for, and I grabbed the bike painting. Although to be honest, I wasn’t that interested on working on the bike painting.

carrot1

I sat down and started mixing paints. A few years ago I took a class with artist Joe Bucci. He taught me that you should mix your own colors (usually from thalo blue, cadmium yellow and cadmium red). You shouldn’t use mixed colors from a tube because you don’t know what colors are mixed to make that color. His thought was (I’m totally paraphrasing here, this is just what I got from the class and remember) that all the colors in a painting should relate to one other. For example, if I mix a green from thalo blue and cadmium yellow and then, I mix an orange, from cad. red and cad. yellow, add a little of the green so the orange doesn’t look so unnatural and, so, the orange “works” with the green. Who knew? Prior to the class, I was playing around with a set of 10+ colors, never thinking about how they related to one another. He made a lot of sense to me. Here is a painting I did, in his class.

rooster

Back to today, and the carrot painting. I couldn’t remember if I started it pre Joe or post Joe. As I looked at the colors in the painting and the tubes from my set, I had a feeling it was pre Joe. So, I started mixing colors to work on the carrot. I improvised a bit and started with thalo green because I thought that was the tube I had used. I thought it made sense to use it as a base color. When I mixed an orange, I added some of my mixed green, to tone it down, and so, it would work with the green. I also mixed a new brown to add to the dirt. I had decided not to use the brown from the tube, that I had originally used. As I worked on the dirt, I rembered originally working on it, and how I had struggled, because the tubes I had didn’t match the color of the dirt. Joe really opened up a whole new world to me.

I was so “into” working on the carrot – that I hadn’t touched in years – that I never moved on to another canvas! Not only that, but I finished it! And it felt great!

Carrot


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Revisiting Unfinished Projects

I came across several unfinished projects, while cleaning my office. I have a really hard time getting back into a project that I’ve abandoned. I think I’m afraid of ruining it. I forget where I was, and don’t even know where to start.

One such project, is an acrylic version of a bike on the boardwalk. I forced myself to start, even though it wasn’t easy! I had all kinds of measurements (because I was enlarging a section of a watercolor painting) and I didn’t even know what they meant! I had no idea what part I intended on working on next.

Once I got working again, things started to come more easily. I painted the railing and decided to do the sand and ocean next. I love painting the beach. It’s my favorite place. But, mixing the right color for sand and painting the ocean is really hard (for me).

For the sand, I mixed cadmium red and thalo blue to create a purple, which I added white to. This resulted in a grayish purple which I added cadmium yellow light to. In the sand area, I already had a base color, a purplish tan, which I thought might look good in the spots it will show through. I mixed a thalo blue with the cadmium yellow and added this greenish blue to my ocean area.

Here is my progress so far. Time to add the bike wheel…only slightly intimidating!

boardwalk2   boardwalk3