Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Gardening Fabric Print

gardeningswatch
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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Valentine’s Day Patterns

squarewrap
Last February I designed my second pattern, ever, in the Valentine’s Day theme. As I continued throughout the year, designing more patterns, my style evolved and my techniques changed. I wanted to design another pattern, this year, in the same theme, to see how I would approach it differently. Even though last year’s design was created with hand drawn elements – it was painted digitally.

Last year’s pattern:
valentine2015sm
Learn more about that process here.

This year I painted, in watercolor, several squares in pinks and reds. I thought it would be interesting to arrange them as tiles. The squares would be uneven and irregular because they were hand painted. Then (separately) I painted several hearts and the word love. In Photoshop, I arranged the watercolor squares, and “knocked” the hearts and words out of the squares, and created a repeating pattern.

The original artwork:
heartssquares

This year’s Valentine’s Day Pattern:
redpinksquaresfinal

I got extremely enthusiastic about my design and, even though I haven’t purchased a single Valentine’s Day gift, I ordered a roll of gift wrap from Spoonflower.com. I either have to start shopping for things to wrap, or start crafting. Hmmm, I have some ideas!


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Bananas for Monkeys

monkeypatternrepeat
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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Learning the keys to successful surface design

valentine2015repeatsm
At the end of last year, I had just started ordering my pattern designs in wrapping paper and fabric. It’s totally different, to not only see the pattern printed, but then work with the gift wrap and fabric. As I wrapped presents in my designs and other designs, I became aware of things that I never noticed before. Most importantly that a lot of the designs have some elements that are upside down and some right side up. This way, there is no correct side.

Over the summer, when I ordered fabric in my sandcastles design, I experimented with making it into a pillow. I realized how important the size of the repeat is. If it is too big, and you try to make a small pillow (or wrap a small present), then most of the design gets cut off.

These are things you don’t notice when you are creating on the computer. As I continue to pursue surface design this year, my goal is to not only design patterns, but have them printed as gift wrap or fabric, and (most importantly) create something with them – to be the end user. I think it’s the best way for me to learn how to make successful designs.

Earlier this week I tweaked last year’s Valentine’s Day design and ordered a swatch (see above). Specifically, I changed how the pattern repeated. I’m am excitedly waiting it’s arrival! I am also working on a second Valentine’s Day themed pattern, that has more of a watercolor feel.

Original Repeat:
valentine'sdaypattern

To see the 12 patterns I designed in 2016, click here.


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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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Sewing project with my own fabric design

sewingmachine
I’m not much of a sewer, but I’m excited to try and make something with the pattern I designed. Seeing a pattern as a fabric is much different than seeing it on the computer monitor. You start to think about what you can make with it. If I printed this pattern again, I’d make the pattern much smaller, so it could be used as a band of detail on a bag, or something like that. At this size, I’m thinking of making a pillow or even a pillowcase. Any sewers out there? Any ideas?

I’m excited to have the sewing machine set up in my studio. My daughter has to show me how to use it. I’d love it if she would take the reins and start sewing tons of cute things with fabric I design. We’d be a great team. She seems to have other plans for the summer. Ah teenagers! 🙂

BTW – I didn’t win the “Sandcastles” Spoonflower.com contest. I still feel a sense of accomplishment – I finally uploaded a design and ordered fabric with my own pattern. I’ve wanted to do that for years!


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Please vote for my Sandcastle pattern in this week’s Spoonflower contest! Thank you!

sandcastleEM
I would be so grateful if you took a minute to vote for my pattern “Sandcastles on Long Island.” Just click here: http://www.spoonflower.com/contest_voters_temp/new?contest_id=306

Uploading a pattern to Spoonflower is something I’ve wanted to do for years, since I first read about Spoonflower in Country Living. I used their Sandcastles contest as extra motivation to finally upload a pattern. I’ve ordered a yard of the fabric and can’t wait to show you when it arrives!

Thank you so much for the support you have given me all along, and for casting your vote for “Sandcastles on Long Island.” 🙂


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Sandcastles (My May Pattern)

sandcastleEM
Sandcastles is the theme of my May pattern (I know, I know it’s already June). I’ve been working extra hard on this pattern because I’m entering it in a Spoonflower contest. This week’s theme is sandcastles and it’s so fitting this time of year!

With Memorial Day behind us, I can’t help but think of beach days! We are counting down to the end of the school year and making our Summer plans. We are lucky enough to live 10 minutes from the ocean. I grew up in a nearby beach town and as a kid, I spent my entire Summer on the beach. When I was old enough to work, it was as a ocean lifeguard.

When I saw that Spoonflower’s pattern contest was a sandcastle theme, I had to give it a try. You know I’m obsessed with creating patterns these days! This would be my first entry into a Spoonflower contest.

Below is my first draft. I made some edits, because I felt there was too much sand and it needed more details. Voting opens Thursday (spoonflower.com). 🙂
sandcastle