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50 Ideas for What to Draw or Paint


There have been times when I’ve sat with my sketchbook open and thought, “What should I draw?” In reality, there are so many things around to choose from! Many of these things don’t seem interesting at first, we hardly notice them, but they are great practice. Once you start drawing you’ll see the challenge in capturing their shapes, shadows, perspective, etc.

  1. Lamp
  2. Padded chair
  3. Pillow – capture all the creases and folds!
  4. Pattern on curtains, couch, or pillow
  5. Accessories
  6. End tables – some have such interesting bases
  7. The Living Room – Part or all
  8. Kitchen or dining room chairs
  9. Ceramics – statue or teapot
  10. Cups
  11. Utensils or cooking tools – that pasta thing!
  12. Light fixture
  13. Fruit – whole or sliced
  14. Vegetables
  15. Cleaning product – like a spray bottle
  16. Vacuum
  17. The kitchen – all or part
  18. Sink knobs and faucets
  19. Robe
  20. Shoes
  21. Handbags
  22. Jewelry
  23. Makeup
  24. Makeup table
  25. Bedroom – all or part
  26. Laundry – folded or messy, the basket too
  27. Backpacks
  28. Trophies
  29. Hats
  30. Sports equipment
  31. Stuffed Animals
  32. Kid’s/guest bedroom – all or part
  33. Bookcase
  34. Computer or laptop
  35. Charging area with phones
  36. Pile of mail
  37. Spice cabinet
  38. Pantry – inside and out
  39. Laundry Room
  40. People (take photos if they won’t sit still)
  41. Pets (take photos)
  42. Your neighbor’s house
  43. Your street
  44. Car
  45. Plants
  46. Trees
  47. Flowers
  48. Patio or deck with furniture
  49. Lawn mower
  50. Watering can

Once your eyes open to the everyday things, you’ll never again wonder for long “What to draw or paint?” I love drawing with a smooth Uniball Signo gel pen. It works great alone or when adding details after watercolor paint dries. My favorite sketchbook is the Canson Multimedia XL, because the pages are bright white and thicker to allow for painting without the pages buckling.

Need help getting started with your creative journey? Read this post:

Want to be creative? Start here! creative inspiration | how to be creative Kick up your Creativity with Color! Steps to Creativity for everyone 

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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Kick up your Creativity with Color!

Kick up your Creativity with Color! Steps to Creativity for everyone
Want to be creative but don’t know how/where to start? If you haven’t already, click here and start with these 3 steps! If you have started with the beginning 3 steps, then you’ve accomplished a lot!

  • Your eyes are open to inspiration. You take photos and make lists of things to sketch.
  • You’ve been sketching regularly in pencil. Hopefully noticing the difference between the softer B and the harder H pencils. You have a regular creative practice!
  • You don’t just draw something once – you practice drawing it several times. Take a moment to look through your sketches and see overall how much you’ve progressed!

Well done. When you are ready, move on to these steps – that are all about Color!

1. Colored Pencil or Watercolor? – The next logical step may seem to be colored pencils, but if you are itching to paint, and want something more fluid, I recommend watercolor. Here is where YOU decide what path your creative journey takes. This is about finding what YOU like. If you need recommendations on either see below.

2. Start simply with your sketchbook. Continue with your creative habit of sketching regularly – but now use color! You can use regular pencil first and then add color – or start directly with color. I recommend working in your sketchbook because it’s a no pressure, play zone, where you can practice and learn. Note: if you decide to use watercolor – please look at my sketchbook recommendation below, so your pages don’t buckle.

3. Beyond the sketch. After practicing in your sketchbook, it’s time for a drawing or painting that you spend more time on. After all your loose, quick sketches, you are ready. It can be a page in your sketchbook, or perhaps use a nicer paper – see recommendations below based on your choice of medium. Before you start, plan it out. Pick a reference photo, study it, and lightly plan it out in pencil.

When you are working on a drawing or painting for a longer period of time, stepping away and coming back to it with fresh eyes, helps a lot. I sometimes work with my reference photo and paper upside down – to check that things look right. Don’t expect immediate results. Don’t give up because it isn’t looking like you envision. I used to be a “quitter,” but I learned that it takes time, and the results often surprise me if I stick with it, and work through “mistakes.” In the end, any “weak” areas – are just things to work on for the next time. It’s a learning process. Good Luck!

My recommendations:

Colored PencilsPrismacolor Colored Pencils
Strathmore Bristol Vellum Pad – Smooth thicker, bright white paper – great for a colored pencil project.

Watercolor Tube Sets – I love Windsor & Newton paints and started with their affordable Cotman “student grade”
Canson Multimedia Sketchbook – I love this versatile, bright white, thicker sketchbook paper
Fluid Watercolor Paper – great for a watercolor painting. Tape down the sides to a larger piece of cardboard with painter’s tape to prevent buckling!

Colored Pastels are another option. I never really got the hang of them, but my daughter loves them. She uses the Prismacolor sticks.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


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Watercolor and my sketchbook

Mini watercolor seascapes
After a busy time, it feels good to be playing around with watercolor again. When I haven’t painted in a while it feels easier to dip my toe in by working in my sketchbook. At first I don’t know what to paint so I just doodle and play around. Usually inspiration strikes. I started painting a series of mini seascapes. I’m practicing for a workshop I’m teaching next week.

July is World Watercolor Month – learn more here.


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Final days of Inktober

InkTober prompt Mask Day 31 #inktober
Mask – InkTober prompt day 31. This year I didn’t do a great job drawing every day. Instead I’d do a few drawings to catch up and then let myself fall behind again. I’ve always had trouble working every day. Some days I’m into it and other days I’m busy doing other things.

Dustin from Stranger Things. An InkTober sketch by Eileen McKenna
Day 27. Dustin from Stranger Things. He’s my favorite.

Beach cruiser Inktober sketchbook Eileen McKenna
Day 28. Beach cruiser on the boardwalk.


Day 29 and 30. Sketches from a Mollie Makes magazine. Making up for the missing days. 😂

Happy Halloween!


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InkTober days 5-8

It’s interesting to see what everyone chooses to draw for InkTober, how they interpret the same prompts (if they use the prompts), and even how we all struggle to draw every day.

Long Beach, NY boardwalk #inktober
On day 5 the prompt was “long.” Having grown up in Long Beach I knew immediately what I wanted to draw. I did a quick sketch of the boardwalk and thought, “Is this too sloppy to post?” Of course the point is to post the good with the bad. Funny enough, my husband commented, “Can I have that?”

Farmers Market sketches
On day 6 I drew early morning with my coffee – some sketches for a “farmers market” print pattern. I swore I would draw later and this wasn’t my InkTober sketch, but in the end I never got back to it.

Shy #inktober
I loved the day 7 prompt of “shy.” I had a picture in my mind of a little girl holding her mom’s leg. Her favorite stuffed animal held tightly. I found an image similar to my vision online to use as reference.

Crooked teeth #inktober
Day 8 – crooked. Not a particularly attractive drawing. But this was what came to mind!

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more about the newsletter here.

Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!
The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints


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Pick a picture, pick a subject…

Sketchbook painting
…and start drawing and painting. Sitting with my coffee this morning, I was beating myself up for not painting this week. But when I looked back on the week and all I did – work, back to school stuff including orientations, meetings, haircuts, doctors’ appointments, and birthday preparations – it makes sense. Okay I forgive myself. Now what? Pick a picture.

So I did. I didn’t overthink it, I picked one and started painting in my sketchbook. I didn’t select good watercolor paper and tape it to a board – to prepare for a “frame-able” piece. I selected a page with writing on the back. No pressure, just pick a picture and get back to work.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more about the newsletter here.

Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!
The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints


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Dogwoods my next print pattern design?

Dogwood flowers in my sketchbook Just like I knew it would, working every day in my sketchbook has really opened me up creatively. That and working beyond the beach theme. It’s been 12 consecutive days!

This week the dogwoods right outside our windows have been calling to me! I’m thinking about using my dogwood illustrations to create a repeating pattern. I’ve been designing a pattern a month this year. See my other designs here.


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Springtime Creative Inspiration

Dogwoods - springtime creative inspiration
Dogwoods - springtime creative inspiration Eight consecutive days in the sketchbook and everything is inspiring me! I’m loving the warm spring days. Seeing the dogwoods blooming every time I pull up to the house makes me happy. With three kids to pick up and drop off, I pull in and out of the driveway many times a day.

The dogwoods have sentimental value to me, as I wrote in a post last year,

“They were in bloom the first time we looked at our future home. We posed in front of them 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.”

Playing around in my sketchbook, first in ink and then in watercolor. And a little lettering practice. Still debating if I should add ink to the watercolor. It’s a common question I struggle with. Either way I have to wait for it to dry. Nothing worse than adding the ink too early and it bleeds.

Dogwood flower, daily sketchbook
Hope you are enjoying a beautiful spring day!
Eileen

👉 I’m finding it very inspiring, creating my new newsletter “My Creative Collection.” Check out the latest issue here!