my creative resolution

Continuing my creative journey into 2015!


Writing a checklist to help you achieve your Creative Goals

I’ve learned so much since starting my creative resolution in 2014. About how important setting a goal is. But, not only do we have to set a goal, we need to outline the tasks that will get us there.

My 2014 creative resolution, or goal, was very simply to “be creative.” Early on I wrote (and adapted as I went on) a “weekly checklist” or a set of tasks that would help me achieve my goal. They were:

My 2014 Weekly Checklist:

  • 3 pencil sketches – “5 minute sketches”
  • 1 watercolor
  • 1 acrylic
  • illustration (children’s book illustration style)

As the year went on I added things like “figure drawing” to my list, and, as I focusted more on watercolor, acrylic painting moved to my monthly list.

My 2014 Monthly Checklist:

  • learn a new technique (from a video, book, etc.)
  • 1 acrylic painting
  • “other” project (furniture, wood, etc.)

My 2015 creative resolution or goal was to “continue my creative journey.” Right from the start of 2015 I wrote a list of things I have always wanted to try. Some of these things were one time “tries,” while others I incorporated into my checklist (see the last three items).

My 2015 Checklist:

  • Try one thing from “the list” each month
  • Create almost daily (and post on Instagram)
  • Paint with watercolor at least once a week
  • Doodle with ink almost daily
  • Design a pattern a month
  • Practice hand lettering at least once a month

As the new year gets closer and closer, I’m excited to set a new goal, a new creative resolution. I’ve grown so much, I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings! :)



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

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.

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).

Slight variations on my feather pattern.
No distress in the background. 

Distress shows yellow.

Which one do you like best? :)

Copyright 2015 Eileen McKenna. All rights reserved.


Watercolor Leaf {A how to craft project}

This was one of my favorite projects last Fall! Give it a try and share your results, either in the comments below or on Instagram – tag me: @mycreativeresolution and use #mcrfallleaf.


  • heavyweight watercolor paper
  • watercolor paints (3 colors – light, medium, dark. I used yellow, orange, and brown)
  • water
  • paintbrush (1 thick, 1 thin)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • leaf (for shape and inspiration)


  1. Trace or draw leaf onto the watercolor paper
  2. Cut out the leaf shape
  3. Use paintbrush and water to wet one side of the leaf shape
  4. Soak up yellow paint from your palette, with a very wet brush (you can even dip the brush into the water after absorbing the paint)
  5. Paint the entire leaf yellow (or a light color of your choice)
    leaf2 leaf3
  6. With a wet brush, absorb the orange paint and paint the edges of your leaf. The orange will bleed into the yellow – this is a good thing!
  7. Use a thinner (and not as wet) brush and absorb the brown paint. Paint thin lines onto the leaf. (Copy the veins from your real leaf.)
  8. Allow the leaf to dry a bit. (The dryer the paper is, the less the paint will bleed.) Then, add more thin brown lines.

When I first showed my kids my painted leaf, they thought it was a real leaf!
Have fun! Can’t wait to see what you make. :)


Drawing what your drawn to. {feathers}

I didn’t even realize I loved trees until they kept popping up in my paintings and illustrations. Drawing feathers was more of an accident. I was painting a sunflower when the watercolors bled beyond the shape of the sunflower. I moved on to another version, putting this accident to the side. Over the next couple of weeks whenever I looked at this accident, I saw a feather. Eventually I added ink details to turn it into a feather. You can read more about that “happy accident” here.

Since this “accident,” I’ve draw a lot of feathers, especially over the last couple of weeks. Recently I sketched several feathers in my book. I wanted to add a color background to them, so I started over and drew more feathers on watercolor paper.

feathersinink pencilfeather

For two of the paintings I started with the simple outline of feathers, then painted the backgrounds, and a little color to some of the feathers. I added the feather details in ink after. On the third painting, I painted a feather shape with a pink, purple, blue blend and added ink details afterwards. featherstart


I have a good feeling my September pattern will end up being feathers! :)


Goodbye Summer…Hello Fall!

I’d love to squeeze in one more beach day, but other than that I’m ready for the hot and humid weather to end. I’m looking forward to those crisp Fall days, with blue skies and beautiful foliage all around. I’m excited about new seasonal things to inspire me – leaves, acorns, pumpkins. I’ve already started doodling and collecting them. Maybe it’s too soon, but it’s nice to have new “material” to work from! Are you ready for Fall?


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