Exploring new creative things

I was sewing the other day. Trying to make a few new masks. Sewing is a new thing for me. I’ve tried it here and there over the years but waited so long in between that it always felt like starting over. Now that I’ve been doing it more regularly, I’m getting the hang of it. There isn’t as much of a struggle.

As I sewed I wondered what new things – art, craft, baking, etc. – I would carry on with after quarantine is over? Based on what I see online, lots of people are trying their hand at new things – baking bread, painting, etc. or getting back to things they used to enjoy – puzzles, game night, taking walks, etc. What will we take with us into the new normal of life?

The silver lining in self quarantine is that some of us have had this time to explore things we normally don’t have time to explore. A friend of my sister’s messaged me and said she hadn’t painted in decades, but wanted to try again and asked what paint and tutorials I recommended. Often it is hard to know where to start.

How do you know what medium to begin with? How do you find an art medium that speaks to you? I went through this myself when I started My Creative Resolution. Throughout the process of exploration painting in watercolor was what rose to the top. For you it may be something totally different. But how do you find your thing?

I’ve developed a process for you to follow, that walks you through trying things, while developing a regular practice of creativity. Fifteen minutes a day can be sufficient! We start with the basics, no fancy supplies needed, and slowly work up to trying other mediums. There is room for your interests here. After all, your exploratory journey should be based on you!

Ready to get started? Download the “Creative Exploration” ebook or order a paperback copy on Amazon today. Click here for more information. Your creative journey awaits!

Start now by clicking here!

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice

Want to be creative | How to be creative | How to develop an art practice

What is holding you back from creativity?

Sometimes the hardest part (of anything) is starting. So many things can hold you back – fear, uncertainty, a lack of confidence. It’s important to take stock of those things so they don’t slow you down.

Since I was young I’ve loved art, but like many people, I got away from it. But the desire to be creative stuck with me, even if it was dormant for a long time. It wasn’t until I had a career and family before the desire was stronger than all the things holding me back.

Before I started my creative journey, I looked at those things holding me back. I was able to shift my way of thinking. It wasn’t about what other people thought about my abilities and what I might make, it was about me, and my love for creating. There would always be people who didn’t like what I made. This shift in thinking freed me up to move forward.

I’ve never looked back and never regretted committing time and energy to creativity. It fills me up and brings me so much joy!

Are you ready to get started? The first step in my book “Creative Exploration” is Creative Reflection. Uncover what I’d holding YOU back so you can start YOUR creative journey. Start now by clicking here!

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice
Start your creative journey today!

What is holding you back from creativity? Start an art practice Explore creativity

Monet inspired watercolors

Monet inspired watercolor by Eileen McKenna

Last week I wrote about how I needed a “project” to inspire and motivate me. I was sitting down to paint less and less. I thought a two week project would be good – not too long, but long enough that there might be some progress in this pandemic situation. Last week’s post includes the steps to pick a project – read it here.

When I developed my 4 week “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program I dedicated one week to painting like the masters. Each week of the program is a different theme – Parisian Food, the Architecture, the Masters, the Palace of Versailles. During the masters week, we paint like Monet. I loved this project! I found painting with Monet’s color palette to be so interesting. And so when I picked my new project, I chose to paint like Monet.

Originally my plan was to paint anything, and work in Monet’s palette. That has morphed into painting his paintings. Today I painted the Waterlilies and the Japanese Bridge. It was so fun!

This kind of project makes me feel like I’m working on a school project – researching, learning. I love that my work over the next 2 weeks won’t be random, but will have a theme to tie it together.

If you are looking for a project, the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program is a great deep dive into Paris. I learned so much about Paris and I share it all. I grew so much as an artist during the program! Real growth happens when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. Learn more here.

Time and learning new things during quarantine

Happy Face Mask Fabric Design | Sew your own mask!

I remember a saying when I was a kid, “You can be anything you set your mind to.” During self quarantine I’ve been thinking a lot about time. I think the saying really should be “You can be anything (or do anything) you set your TIME to.”

As I pursue new things – some out of curiosity, some out of necessity, some out of both – I realize now more than ever how important time is. Time waiting for the dough to rise. Time practicing sewing to make masks. Taking my time giving my husband a haircut.

Setting our mind to something, having a goal or intention, is important but it’s only the first step. Spending time working on something is the essential ingredient. Each time I bake bread I learn more about the process. The more I sit down to sew, the less it feels like starting over. I threaded the bobbin again today!

I have more time these days. I think it’s important to be intentional about what I spend my time on. I can do anything!

“Smiles Happy Face Mask” Fabric is available in my Spoonflower shop. Browse all my fabric designs here.

How to Pick a Creative Project

I’ve been thinking I need a creative project to help motivate me during self quarantine, especially since things don’t seem to be opening up any time soon. If this is going to continue – for 2 weeks, a month, more? – it would be nice to have something to do, practice a skill, and work towards a goal or final product.

How to Pick a Creative Project

It’s a challenge to pick a project. I definitely have ideas, but it’s like standing at a fork in the road and not knowing which direction to take. Here’s how to pick a creative project:

Step 1. Write down all the ideas that have been floating around your head.

Step 2. Evaluate the ideas. Which items are things you really want to work on? Which project would yield results you’d be especially excited about? Which project could you see yourself being excited about every day?

Here’s my list so far:

  • Drawing Lesson – Continue developing my online drawing lesson.
  • iPad drawing – practice
  • Color Wheel Book – Continue working on – illustrate
  • Clay – Learn polymer clay and create sea creatures (as an example for in person art camp project).
  • Watercolor – work on a specific subject or in specific colors
  • Video – Create another video promo.
  • Sew masks
  • Other idea

My list is often filled with things I think I should do or would like the final results of, but not things I feel like working on EVERY DAY.

Having trouble picking one idea? Sometimes we don’t know until we try. Spend a day sampling the project ideas you are most interested in. Spend 15-20 minutes on each project. Which one sparks the most interest and excitement?

Step 3. Pick a project. Make a decision and stick with it.

Step 4. Plan your creative time. Pick the time (and place) that you will work on this project. It’s easier to remember and make it happen if it’s every day at the same time. Things don’t happen if you don’t plan for them to happen.

Step 5. Follow through! Every project has peaks and valleys. Push through the hard days, do the work and the results will follow. Even 15 minutes a day adds up and is progress!

Want to be creative but don’t know where to start? Start your creative journey with my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.

Learn more by clicking here.

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice
Start your creative journey today!

 

Plan your creative time  | regular creative practice | how to be creative | creative exploration
Plan your Creative Time | Creative Exploration – How to be creative | How to start an art practice

Improvement Every Day – Sewing Masks and Designing Fabric

Sewing Masks tutorials - learning to sewing improving every day

For weeks I’ve wanted to try sewing a mask, but I don’t really know how to sew. From time to time I try, but then so much time passes I forget everything. It’s like starting over every time. I dusted off the machine and prayed it would work and that I wouldn’t have to do anything complicated with the bobbin. No such luck, the stitches were all wonky. When I looked closely at the bobbin, it didn’t appear to be threaded correctly. With the machine’s instruction manual at my side, I was able to rethread the bobbin. Finally, I was sewing! I’ll admit all my movements are awkward. I said to my husband, if sewing was cooking, I’d say, “I can’t even boil water.” Trying to pin the fabric was a struggle. Why did my mother make me take physics instead of Home Ec? I’ll tease her about that forever.

Finally, I made a mask! It was pretty decent! The second one wasn’t so great. The next night I tried again and the two I made came out okay. The following night was even better. I’m seeing improvement every day! That’s what happens when we keep practicing right? I’ve been experimenting to see which tutorial video mask I like the best. These are the 3 I’ve tried. #1 fits around the nose. #2 and #3 have folds and expand over your face. They all have aspects I like. Does anyone have a mask tutorial they recommend?

The unexpected bonus is that I can finally make something with the fabrics I designed! I have a pile of fabric samples. Recently I designed a new one with watercolor smiles on it. It’s what I miss about going to the supermarket – you can’t see anyone’s smile. You can check out my fabric designs on Spoonflower here or visit Spoonflower and design your own! Not sure how to create a repeating pattern from your artwork? Read this post.

Happy Face Mask watercolor Smiles Fabric

Watercolor Ice Cream Cones Online Lesson

I miss teaching the kids at the art studio! We are all stuck home trying to stay motivated and creative. The positive in all of this is I’ve had time to develop a new watercolor lesson specifically for beginners with kids, and the young at heart, in mind – Watercolor Ice Cream Cones!

In this video painting lesson I’ve broken down the steps for painting ice cream cones. I introduce each step and then explain it. Kids can follow along, listening and watching, and then pause the lesson to complete that step. At any point they can go back to watch a step again.

Learn more here -> Watercolor Ice Cream Cones Online Video Painting Lesson

At any level, the results of this painting project are beautiful! It’s fun to complete the lesson more than once because with different color choices the final watercolor ice cream cones paintings will be quite different!

Throughout the lesson participants will learn the difference between wet and dry painting, as well as several watercolor fun techniques!

The lesson is an afternoon of painting fun and learning watercolor! The running time of the video is 20 minutes, but there are three places where the paint needs to dry before moving on. (Twice for 15 minutes. Once for about an hour.)

Learn more here -> Watercolor Ice Cream Cones Online Video Painting Lesson

After you purchase the video lesson, download the pdf file made available to you. It contains the link and password to access the lesson, and the list of supplies. Help the kids gather the supplies, access the video and they will be on their way to a fun time painting!

I would love to see their final paintings! Tag me on Instagram @eileenmckenna.

Learn more here -> Watercolor Ice Cream Cones Online Video Painting Lesson

Watercolor art lesson for  kids | fun quarantine activity  |  watercolor lesson for beginners | how to paint in watercolor
Watercolor Art Lesson for Kids – fun and easy video tutorial

Watercolor Basics for Beginners

If you are new to watercolor – welcome! Watercolor is one of the most fun mediums. When painting with watercolor, aside from paint, water is the key ingredient. Water on the paper, how much water is mixed with the paint, and how much water is on your brush.

Water on the paper. If your paper is wet, the paint you add will spread quickly and even bleed into areas you didn’t touch with your brush.

Tip: Wetting your paper before adding paint, is a fun technique which leads to interesting backgrounds with colors blending into one another. Avoid too much water that leads to puddles on your paper. When puddles occur soak up the excess water and paint with a dry brush or paper towel.

Water mixed with paint. The more water you mix with your paint, the less saturated the color will be and the more transparent it will be on the paper.

Tip: Always test your brush on scrap paper before touching your painting so you aren’t surprised by the results.

Water on your brush. A brush dripping with water and paint will spread easily even on dry paper. A dry brush will not spread smoothly, but will go on more irregularly – missing some areas of paper.

Tip: To dry your brush blot it on a paper towel and soak up the extra water.

Experiment! Try out the different ways water changes how paint interacts with paper. You may feel you have no control with watercolor, but the more you know and can anticipate how the paint will react to situations, the more control you have.

Looking for resources for beginners? Check out my Etsy shop here.

Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction
Watercolor Basics for beginners

Why my watercolor skies aren’t “smooth” – the mystery solved!

For a while now I’ve been frustrated with my watercolor skies. If I don’t paint them lightly, they end up looking weird. It’s hard to describe but the paint looks funny – like a pattern of little blooms. Instead of smooth, they have a texture. I’ve wanted to seek help on this issue, but I was having a hard time articulating my problem.

A search on Pinterest for “watercolor skies” led me to Susan Chiang’s blog where I saw the phrase “granulating pigments.”

This is my issue!

Susan says, “When picking your blues, take note of granulating pigments. This will vary based on the color and manufacturer so the best way is to test it out yourself on a piece of paper.”

Now I know it’s a characteristic of the paint that is working against me and the look I want to achieve. Progress!

This post by Michelle Morris, on the Empty Easel, describes in depth the issue and why some paints don’t appear smooth: Know Your Watercolor Paint: Understanding Granulating, Transparent & Staining Colors

My next step is to test out the blues I have, as well as see if they are labeled to determine the best color and mixes for my skies to achieve that smooth look I want.

Finding creative inspiration during self quarantine

Finding creative inspiration during self quarantine

These days I can’t blame lack of time for a lack of painting. Being stuck at home, I’ve got nothing but time. What I am struggling with is what to paint. Sometimes it seems easier to go on my iPad than to figure out an idea.

Coincidentally my son asked me the other day, “Do you always know what you’re going to paint?” As I indicated, the answer is no, and it can be a real roadblock. When you are out and about, experiencing life, you are soaking up inspiration. Nowadays, not so much.

Here are some ways to find creative inspiration during self quarantine:

Go outside (in whatever way is safe for your situation). Walk around your neighborhood, or your yard, or sit by a window. The birds, trees, flowers, clouds, all provide inspiration. Absorb it, and take photos.

Look through your phone. What inspiration did you capture on your phone that you never drew or painted? Now you have time. I’ve made albums on my phone to separate inspiration photos.

Look online. If you have a subject in mind of course there are tons of photos online to choose from. There are also sites dedicated to providing reference photos for art. This post links to several sites with reference photos for drawing figures.

Technique. Perhaps there is a technique you admire others doing. Try it! Find reference photo appropriate to that technique and practice. I admire paintings with sun dappled water, so I found a photo and tried it.

Catalogs. I keep catalogs to use as reference. Athletic attire ones have great figures to practice from, and sometimes great scenery. Recently I painted a skier and mountains from an ad in a magazine. I also painted a woman doing a headstand. I love the Burpee plant and seed catalog, such beautiful flowers and vegetables to paint!

Look around your home. Walk slowly around your home and see if there are any interesting subjects or arrangements to paint. Try to look at your space with fresh eyes. Or paint or draw an ordinary scene like the couch with a lamp, but add interesting wallpaper to it. Reimagine your space.

Set up a still life. Create an interesting composition with things in your home. The refrigerator is a great source of interesting looking things. Cut some fruit in half.

Portraits. In self quarantine with loved ones? Make them the subject of your next project.

Color. Try a project where it’s less about what you are painting and more about the color palette you are using. You could even recreate a painting you’ve done before but with a different color palette. In my “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program we explore painting using Monet’s winter palette. It is such an interesting exercise!

I’d love to hear how you’re staying inspired!

“Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” is a 4 week online program aimed at inspiring regular watercolor painting and learning through virtual immersion into the city of Paris! Learn more here.
Quarantine inspiration painting Monet’s winter palette in watercolor
Painting with Monet’s winter palette in the
“Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” 4 week online program. Learn more here.
Watercolor painting flowers self quarantine inspiration
Painting Marie Antoinette’s embroidered flowers in the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” 4 week online program. The program is aimed at inspiring regular watercolor painting and learning through virtual immersion into the city of Paris! Learn more here.
%d bloggers like this: