My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


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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.

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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!


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Don’t Stifle Your Own Creativity

Watercolor robin in my sketchbook
Yesterday morning the first thing that caught my eye was a robin on my patio. I was inspired to paint him, but hesitated for a moment. I’ve been painting the beach and beach related things since January. A robin doesn’t fit into my theme. Then I had a break through thought – I’m letting my theme and focus stifle my creativity.

For weeks I’ve been trying to get back into painting. I knew that – for me – working daily in my sketchbook helps bring out other creativity. What I love about my sketchbook is the lack of pressure – draw anything, mess up, add watercolor – it’s all good! But, I had been putting pressure on myself by limiting myself to beach things. Pressure to stay within the theme, pressure to post daily on Instagram.

I’ve recognized my mistake and am changing my attitude. I painted the robin. And tomorrow who knows?

Hey, have you signed up for my email newsletter yet? The next issue comes out soon! It’s called My Creative Collection and is all about the things that inspire me and hopefully will inspire you! You can sign up here. For more information on the newsletter read this post.


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Daily Creative Habits – Take 2

Daily creative habits, sketchbook work, Day 1
Day 1 again. With vacation and other busyness behind me, I’m trying to get back into the creative mode! Back to turning creativity into a habit (again). I played around on my iPad this morning. Later I pulled out my sketchbook.

Drawing on the iPad in Adobe Sketch

I wrote a new checklist to keep me on track.

Creative Checklist:

I know from experience that the daily work, propels me to keep up with the other stuff. How do you stay on track?

Did you see my new “Swimming Laps” pattern?
Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

I am a huge fan of the Canson sketchbook, because of the bright white, thick pages that don’t buckle when I use watercolor.
Favorite sketchbook

This posts contains affiliate links to products 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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A trip to New Orleans

New Orleans sketchbook watercolor

There’s nothing like a vacation to recharge your batteries. We took a trip to New Orleans. I have always wanted to go but didn’t know what to expect.

Highlights included:

  • Delicious beniots
  • An adventurous swamp tour searching for alligators and enjoying the beauty of the swamp. Love that Spanish moss!
  • Delicious dinners of catfish, gumbo, lobster dumplings, biscuits and more. With sweet cocktails.
  • An Easter parade where they threw beads to all the onlookers. A taste of Marie Gras!
  • Street performers of all kinds – even writers for hire!
  • A walk along the Mississippi, where we saw a paddle boat
  • Visit to the WWII museum
  • A walking tour of the cemetery and garden district
  • A trolley ride
  • The French quarter – Beautiful wrought iron balconies, flowers, gas lamps, exposed brick
  • Brunch at the House of Blues

It was a great trip with the extended family!

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Back to Daily Creative Habits

Back to daily creative habits. Shells in the sketchbook.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve done minimal drawing and painting. Periods like this seem to be a pattern for me. I think about doing creative work all the time, but I put everything before it – even binge watching shows on Netflix. It’s not creative block. I have tons of ideas. I just can’t seem to make myself pick up the sketchbook or sit down with my paints. And as the days go by it gets harder, and harder.

Experience has shown me that these periods can be avoided if I maintain the habit of drawing daily in my sketchbook. So today as I finally grabbed my sketchbook – I made the commitment to draw in it everyday. Other than making the time, I don’t put pressure on myself to make the results great. I know if I do the work, and play around, good things will come. I already feel happier after drawing these shells that I collected recently.

I first learned about the power of habits when I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Back then I had also fallen out of the habit of being creative. I learned from the book that it was harder for me to be creative because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer something I did without thinking.

Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin's book "Better than Before"

Rubin perfectly states it here,
“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

Read Better than Before.

This post contains affiliate links to products 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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Zest for Life Citrus Print Pattern

Citrus print pattern - lemons, limes, oranges. Available as fabric, gift wrap, wallpaper
Recently looking through my sketchbook, I found a page of citrus fruits I painted, and thought it was a great start to a print design. I scanned the page, and played around with the elements in Photoshop, to come up with the above repeating pattern design. I’m loving the bright yellow, orange, and green colors!

Sketchbook page:
Citrus fruit watercolor and ink sketchbook page
My Canson sketchbook is especially great for working in watercolor and ink because of the thick weight pages. And I love that the pages are bright white.

Here is the repeat:

Want to purchase this pattern, or see my other patterns, as fabric, gift wrap or wallpaper? Visit my Spoonflower shop here.

I’m on a mission this year to design a pattern a month! See my past designs here.

Want to learn how to create repeating patterns in Photoshop? Read this post.
How to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. For fabric prints, gift wrap, wallpaper and more.

This post contains affiliate links to products 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!

My Creative Collection
My new newsletter – is all the things that inspire me, and will hopefully inspire you! Don’t miss out! Sign up here so you don’t miss an issue.


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First posts and first creative goals

Sketchbook

Inspired by other bloggers I’m revisiting my earliest posts.

My first post 12/30/13: Happy New Year!

“This year I’m taking my New Year’s resolution to a new level. I’m holding myself accountable, by making a commitment to blog about my progress. In the past I’ve been great in the ideas department, not as good in the follow through! But this time, I hope to draw, paint and create my way through 2014! Join me on the journey so you can witness the successes (and failures) and maybe we’ll both learn a thing or two on the way!”

My second post and a goal: Filling the Sketchbook
Sketchbook

“I plan on filling this sketch book. Although it is a bit daunting! I like saving all my old sketchbooks and looking through them. I even keep drawings that I am embarrassed by. They show me how far I’ve come. I look at old sketches with a fresh perspective and know what is “off.” Sometimes I look at a sketch and proudly think, “I did that?” As I thumb through, I am reminded of projects I was interested in. I can add some of those  to my list for the coming year.”

Present day…
Working in that sketchbook became an important part of my weekly creative practice, and it was a turning point when I started painting in it. I remembered how much I love watercolor! Unfortunately the paper in this sketchbook wasn’t made for adding paint. So when I found the Canson Mix Media sketchbook – that I still use today – I was thrilled. Love the thick bright white pages! In three years I’ve filled at least 8 sketchbooks! Goal reached, and then some!

Did you read:
Does Your Astrological Sign Affect Your Creativity?

This post contains affiliate links to products 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!