Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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The change of seasons and inspiration

imageIt’s a funny time of year. School has started so summer feels over. When I look around the house for something to draw, I see the shells we’ve collected. Every year I say I’ll continue creating in the beach theme after summer ends, but it loses its appeal. I get inspired by the changing leaves, and then the winter sky against bare trees, followed by the beautiful flowers of spring. I guess I’m a seasonal girl. 😀


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Painting the Beach

beachandshells
After painting a few flowers, I wanted a new subject. The beach is my favorite place. I’m always trying to paint it but struggle to really capture it – the shadows and waves in the water, the changing color of the sand. When I put too much detail in the water it just doesn’t look right. When I work quicker and looser it looks better, but seems to be missing something. After a few attempts at painting the beach, I needed a new subject (again). Right in front of me were shells we collected at the beach. Ah! Still the beach, but now I’m zooming in on the details. This one was fun and I like how it came out.


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My 12 Surface Designs – one a month this year!

I’m really proud, and happy, that I followed through on my goal to start creating surface designs. I designed the first one in January, and decided to commit to “1 Surface Design a Month.” That goal, and the end of the month deadline, really pushed me to put in the work.

12 Surface Designs
January – Art Supplies

artpatternrepeat

February – Valentine’s Day
valentine'sdaypattern
March – Gardening
gardeningrepeatfinal2
April – Dahlias
dahliapatternv2
May – Sandcastles
sandcastleEM
June – Echinacea
echinaceapattern

July – Shells
shellspattern

August – Ice Cream Cones
watercoloricecreamcones

September- Feathers
featherspattern1

October – Leaves
leavespatterncolor

November – Nutcrackers
nutcrackersrepeating
December – Toy Soldiers
toysoldiers2_5inchhigh

I’m always asking you, “What’s your favorite?” And I would love to hear, but I’ll also tell you my favorites.

I really liked when I started using the technique of creating the ink lines and watercolor backgrounds separately and then merging them in Photoshop. I started this with the shell pattern. I think the watercolor really adds a depth that you can’t get with Photoshop brushes. I started this technique with the shells, and continued it with the leaves – which is my favorite design in this style.

My other technique is drawing the elements in my sketchbook and adding color in Photoshop. My favorite design, using this technique, is the Toy Soldiers. They are just so cute!

Will I be continuing with surface design in 2016? Absolutely! As you know, I’ve made the Nutcracker and Toy Soldier patterns available on Spoonflower, where you can have them printed as fabric or gift wrap. It is really interesting to see the designs printed and to think about how it will be used. It makes you think about the design, and what works and doesn’t. It’s a different perspective than just seeing it flat on the computer screen.

In the new year, I’ll be adding a few of the other “12 designs” onto Spoonflower. And I plan to continue designing one new one a month!


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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.


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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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