Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Drawing what your drawn to. {feathers}

seagullfeathers
I didn’t even realize I loved trees until they kept popping up in my paintings and illustrations. Drawing feathers was more of an accident. I was painting a sunflower when the watercolors bled beyond the shape of the sunflower. I moved on to another version, putting this accident to the side. Over the next couple of weeks whenever I looked at this accident, I saw a feather. Eventually I added ink details to turn it into a feather. You can read more about that “happy accident” here.

Since this “accident,” I’ve draw a lot of feathers, especially over the last couple of weeks. Recently I sketched several feathers in my book. I wanted to add a color background to them, so I started over and drew more feathers on watercolor paper.

feathersinink pencilfeather

For two of the paintings I started with the simple outline of feathers, then painted the backgrounds, and a little color to some of the feathers. I added the feather details in ink after. On the third painting, I painted a feather shape with a pink, purple, blue blend and added ink details afterwards. featherstart

finalrainbowfeather

I have a good feeling my September pattern will end up being feathers! 🙂


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Goodbye Summer…Hello Fall!

beachwalk
I’d love to squeeze in one more beach day, but other than that I’m ready for the hot and humid weather to end. I’m looking forward to those crisp Fall days, with blue skies and beautiful foliage all around. I’m excited about new seasonal things to inspire me – leaves, acorns, pumpkins. I’ve already started doodling and collecting them. Maybe it’s too soon, but it’s nice to have new “material” to work from! Are you ready for Fall?
acornsketches


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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


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School starts in 2 weeks!

I can’t believe it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school. This year we go back before Labor Day, which seems like a crime, especially because we live near the beach. This Summer went so fast and the kids are growing up. 😢
When they were little, by this time in the Summer, I’d be exhausted and wishing for the start of school. Now, two out of three are teenagers, and I realize how precious our time together is! College is just a few years away. 😪

2015/08/img_8683.png


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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!


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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.


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Comparing last year’s work to this year

bloomwave
When I look back on what I was working on last year and compare it to this year – I’m amazed. I feel like I have developed and progressed so much as an artist.

Last year at this time – I was still not using watercolor paper! I just started adding details in ink last August. Now I add ink to many of my paintings. It seems like a lifetime ago.

Projects from last Summer
roseofsharongoggles

This Summer

pretzaldoodles cupcakedoodles shellspattern

As I looked back at old posts I realize something else. I was all over the place trying different things, which was great, but I’ve become much more focused. I still try new things but there seems to be more of an overall continuity. A stamp of “me” on my projects. I’m curious – do you see the difference too?

Putting in the time and work is really worth it. I may not realize it everyday, but when I look back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come.

 


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What the numbers really mean…to me.

zest
212 posts published!

100+ pieces completed in the last 6 months!

300+ followers!

797 comments – your comments, encouraging me and motivating me!

578 days keeping my creative resolution

unmeasurable – the joy I feel living a creative life

I’ve been blogging for a year and a half and during that time creating art has became an integral part of my life. It brings me so much joy. I especially love how one idea leads to another and another and another. I love that the projects I work on are entirely self motivated. Prior to my creative resolution I was in an art class/group for several years. Even though we were given total freedom, I was ready to break free and see what I would create on my own. I feel such a sense of accomplishment looking over my work and seeing how many projects I have finished and that my style has emerged.

I remember when I first started posting and I couldn’t get a single person to like a post or comment! Now I am so lucky to have a community of friends who cheer me on. It means so much to me! It keeps me motivated. Thank you! 🙂


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A pattern for July – Seashells

shellspattern
I really enjoyed creating this pattern. It brought me back to collecting shells as a kid and marveling at the patterns and colors. Oh wait, I still do that!

This pattern started with doodles in my sketchbook. I drew a lot of shells! I have jarfuls on hand for reference.
shells-2

Then on watercolor paper I painted shells using different colors. I took creative liberties with this step.
shellswatercolor-1

I scanned everything in, and layered the outlines and watercolors together in Photoshop. I also added a textured background. After I had my arrangement set, I repeated it to see how it worked. I had to shift things a bit when the shells overlapped.

I truly felt inspired creating this pattern. It felt very nostalgic for me. And I can’t wait to get back down to the beach to collect more shells.