Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Polar Bear, Penguin Christmas pattern

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At this point, you’ve  probably put away your Christmas decorations. I apologize for being out of season, but I’ve designed a pattern with some of my Christmas countdown artwork, and am excited to share it.

In 2015 I designed a pattern a month. It was a very motivating challenge, so I’m doing it again in 2017. This Polar Bear, Penguin, Christmas pattern is my first design of the year. And I’m currently working on a design with my watercolor nutcrackers. Interested in pattern design? I’ve written a few helpful posts you may want to check out:

2015 Patterns

In 2016 I designed a handful of patterns, mostly using watercolors and hand drawn elements. I’m especially fond of the ink daisies overlaying the watercolor background. I plan on using this technique again.

I think the most successful patterns were created after the fact – when I didn’t set out to design a pattern. I created the artwork, and then said, “I like that, I think I’ll use it in a pattern.” Time to look through my sketchbooks and paintings! Many of my designs are available on Spoonflower as fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap. 


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A Crab Pattern

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Another pattern design for you. I forgot all about pattern design last month until the 29th. But, once I remembered, I went straight to my crab sketch. One of you commented that you knew I’d turn it into something. Well with your encouragement I have. 🙂
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I painted the backgrounds separately in watercolor. And put everything together in Photoshop. With the spring weather here, summer can’t be far behind!

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Learn more about how I create patterns here.

 


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Gardening Fabric Print

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Sunday was so warm, we could almost imagine working in the garden. Which reminds me … I recently uploaded my “Love Gardening” print to Spoonflower. I love the little swatch I ordered! I’ve been pinning ideas for projects I could make with the print. See my Pinterest board here.

Since my sewing skills are nil, I really need to team up with a sewing blogger. It could be a mutually beneficial relationship – I’ll design the prints, and you sew them into something great! Let me know if anyone is interested, or knows someone. 🙂

The “Love Gardening” print is available as fabric, gift wrap, and wallpaper! Click here to check it out.


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Bananas for Monkeys

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When I was little I wanted a pet monkey so badly. I told my mom, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it in the closet when we go out.” As if that was the least of her worries. I doubt monkeys were on the approved pet list in my NYC suburb.

The latest Spoonflower design challenge is “Year of the Monkey.” A couple of weeks back, I played around in my sketchbook, but nothing great emerged. But, I couldn’t get the contest out of my mind. So, with just a couple of days left until the deadline, I started sketching again. See my sketches here and what I’m learning about surface design.

It feels great to follow through and enter the contest. Before I started “My Creative Resolution” in 2014, I was notorious for having an idea and not following through, especially if my first draft wasn’t successful.

If you’d like to check out the other “Year of the Monkey” submissions, or vote for someone you know’s design (wink wink) click here. 🙂


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How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop {Feathers my pattern for September.}

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Here is my pattern design for September. As you may have seen, I’ve been drawing and painting feathers all month, so it’s seemed appropriate to turn them into a pattern. I pieced this pattern together from my sketchbook (see below). I wanted this pattern to be much tighter than ones I’ve designed so far this year. This tighter pattern, required more playing and arranging in Photoshop becauses once I thought the pattern was “set” and I tried repeating it, things would overlap and I’d have to readjust and try repeating it again.
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If you know Photoshop and want to try creating a pattern, I’ve included my steps below.

Creating a pattern in Photoshop:

  1. Scan artwork
  2. In Photoshop: separate each element of your design into different layers
  3. Within your artboard, create the area for your “repeat” using guides. (translation: use guides to create a box within your artboard. You can expand the canvas size before this step.)
  4. Arrange your elements. They can go over the guides.
  5. On a separate layer outline the guides to make a box.
  6. Create a group with the box and element layers – call it “original”
  7. Duplicate the “original” group. Drag to the right so the left edge of the box touches the right guide
  8. Duplicate the group again. Drag to the left so the right edge of the box touches the left guide
  9. Select the three groups and duplicate them. Drag the 3 duplicate layers up, so the bottom of the boxes touch the top guide
  10. Duplicate the three groups again. Drag them down, so the top of the boxes touch the bottom guide
  11. If any adjustments need to be made – delete all but your “original” group, make the adjustments and repeat steps 7-10
  12. When you are happy with your repeating pattern, hide all the layers with the box outline.
  13. Crop to the guides to create your “repeat.”

 

Below, you can see my boxes. The center box is where I have my guides (which are not visible).
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Slight variations on my feather pattern.
No distress in the background. 
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Distress shows yellow.
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Which one do you like best? 🙂

Copyright 2015 Eileen McKenna. All rights reserved.


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Pattern of Ice Cream Cones … Mmmm

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It’s very fitting that my pattern for August is ice cream cones. I’ve gotten into the habit of having ice cream almost every night this Summer!

I created this pattern using the same process as last month’s pattern, Shells. I doodled the ice cream cones in my sketchbook, painted the backgrounds separately and then mashed them together and arranged them in Photoshop.

If you’ve missed them, I’ve been illustrating a pattern a month this year:

July – Shells
June – Echinacea
May – Sandcastles
April – Dahlias
March – Gardening
February – Valentine’s Day
January – Art Supplies

It helps to have the deadline of the end of the month. I wouldn’t be as motivated without it.

I entered the Sandcastle pattern into a Spoonflower contest a few months ago. I’d love to try another contest and upload more of my patterns onto Spoonflower. A goal to work towards before the end of the year. 🙂


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A pattern for July – Seashells

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


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Shell doodles

Today I was doodling some shells I found at the beach and one starfish that I bought :)! I was using my son’s gel pen which I love because it’s so smooth. (Unfortunately it’s not waterproof, which I previously found out the hard way.)
I really enjoyed studying the shells and drawing them. I promised a pattern every month, and I think it would be fitting to make a seashell pattern for July. Can’t wait to scan these in and play with color and layout. Stay tuned!

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