Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Gifts to Inspire Creativity

Christmas gifts to inspire creativity | unique holiday gifts for everyone creative artist
If you have creativity in your life – regular creativity – you already know what a gift it is. It’s a relaxing time, almost like meditation, and it can ease the anxiety associated with busy lives. What better gift this holiday season, than the gift of creativity? Here are a variety of gifts that will inspire creativity in your friends and family.

The items show below are all available on Amazon, just click the image to view the Amazon listing details. Read my disclaimer is below.

Art Set – Create a gift set with my “Creative Exploration Book,” favorite sketchpad, sketching pencils, kneaded eraser, and colored pencils. The recipient will be all ready to explore their creativity!

Painting Set – Watercolor is my favorite medium. I started with this Van Gogh watercolor tube set. Combine paints, brushes, a palette, and paper for a great gift!

Screen Printing Kit – I’ve wanted to try screen printing forever. I should add this to my list!


Block Printing Kit – Block printing is so fun and satisfying. This Speedball kit even includes ink!


Baking Set – Combine a baking book with pans or accessories. I love to bake and Williams-Sonoma products are some of my favorites!

Cooking Set – We just made a Gordon Ramsey recipe and it was the best Shrimp Scampi we ever had! And it didn’t take forever to prepare. Combine a recipe book with Gordon Ramsay knives or other cooking accessories for the perfect gift.

Gardening – How about a kit to grow a succulent garden?


Crochet – Combine a “How to Crochet” book with needles and yarn for a unique gift.

Embroidery – An embroidery kit is a great way to introduce someone to embroidery. Everything they need is included! Except maybe scissors.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog! Please note: I have NOT used all the items in this post. Please refer to Amazon listings and reviews for specific product details. 


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How to Find your Creative Confidence – Studio 78 podcast episode

I’ve had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Nache’ Snow on the Studio 78 podcast!

How to find your Creative Confidence episode 98 of the Studio 78 podcast
Visit Studio 78 Episode 98. HOW TO FIND YOUR CREATIVE CONFIDENCE to find out where to listen.

Nache’ is a designer and maker and I’ve listened to her podcast – which highlights creative women and their side hustles – for years! Talking with her was so much fun! In Nache’s words,

“Eileen never gave up on her dream of being creative. In this episode, she explains how creating an art blog helped her gained the confidence to get back into painting and inspire others. She also walks us through how and why she built-out courses after a tutorial went viral on Pinterest, her process for developing a creativity book, and why she continues to create simple tutorials for those getting started.”

I hope you’ll listen! Studio 78 Episode 98. HOW TO FIND YOUR CREATIVE CONFIDENCE

Photo by Dawn Herlihy Reilly.

Want to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -

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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Take control of where you are headed in the new year and reach your goals!

Sometimes we coast through our days, time passes, and we find ourselves no closer to reaching our goals. This year be intentional, set a goal for the year, and focus on that one thing. Set yourself up for success by creating a plan.

Write it down! What is your goal for the year? Be specific!

What steps are necessary to achieve this goal? If needed, do research to help you answer this question.

Schedule time to work towards your goal. Even a small amount of time adds up. When will you work towards your goal?

Invest in your goal – buy running gear, art supplies, a camera, or whatever thing supports your goal. Making an investment will motivate you to stick with your plan. What item will spark excitement and help you reach your goal?

Check in with yourself regularly about your progress and what you are learning. I write daily in my notebook about my creative projects. This helps keep me focused and on track. When will you touch base with yourself on your progress?

Hold yourself accountable. Ideas include asking a friend to be your accountability partner, and posting about your goal and progress online. How will you hold yourself accountable?

Celebrate milestones. A goal can be a huge daunting thing. Breaking into down into manageable tasks makes it more approachable. Celebrating milestones in your journey to continue to propel yourself forward towards the bigger goal. “Celebrating” can be an actual activity, a purchase, or simply the act of recognizing the completion of a task. What milestones could you celebrate? How will you celebrate?

Challenge yourself. Over time the same thing can get boring. When you start feeling bored, challenge yourself with new things within your goal – a new type of exercise, a race, a class, a daily or weekly commitment like a drawing a day or making a new recipe each week. Keep things interesting!

Expect ups and downs but commit to sticking with your goal. It’s normal to be initially excited and motivated about your goal. But over time, the daily work towards a goal can be less exciting. Expect that you will lose enthusiasm at times. During these period keep the bigger goal in mind. Imagine how good it will feel to arrive at that place! Keep going, don’t give up! Forgive yourself when you have an “off” week and recommitment for the next week. Make a commitment to yourself!

I‘ve created a Goal Worksheet to help you create a successful plan! Download it in my Etsy shop here.

Need help gaining focus with your ideas? Try my Creative Ideas planning worksheet – Download it in my Etsy shop here.
Creative Ideas Planning Worksheet pdf for when you have too many creative project ideas

Want to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -

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!

Take control of where you are headed in the new year and reach your goals!


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My Creative Year(s) in Review

Creative year in review | creative new year resolution
At the end of each year I try to reflect on my intentions for the year versus the reality. This exercise is important for me especially because I’m the type to reach a goal and then turn around and create new ones, without really recognizing my accomplishment. As I finish the sixth year of My Creative Resolution (the blog and the commitment to regular creativity), I decided to look back on my entire creative journey, by determining the words that defined each year:

  • 2014 – Finishing/following through, developing a creative practice
  • 2015 – Trying different things – watercolor was a constant
  • 2016 – Challenging myself and sticking with my creative journey through ups and downs
  • 2017 – Focusing to learn and improve my skills. Painting seascapes became a focus and remains one. I created my first “how to” post.
  • 2018 – Paint, teach, connect were my intentions for the year and they matched reality. I had my first in person teaching opportunity!
  • 2019 – Embrace uncomfortable opportunities and goals

I’m proud to say that I’ve become someone who embraces scary and uncomfortable opportunities and goals, which has led to experiencing amazing things. I now regularly teach a kid’s after school drawing and painting class. I initially terrified, but now I love it.

Writing a book that turned my creative journey into a process for others to follow to introduce creativity into their own lives, was intimidating. Having the idea was easy, but following through and finalizing it was hard! That’s why I’m so proud that this year I self published Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.

Since writing my first “how to” step by step painting post, I’ve aspired to create video lessons. There were so many obstacles – I don’t want to be on camera, how to create it, I don’t want to record my voice, etc. It took a few years to figure out the format and the how to, and to get comfortable with putting myself (and my voice) out there. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is finalize a project like this. Now I have the Birch Forest Watercolor Online Video Painting Lesson template to follow for the next video lesson. Next up is “Painting a Seascape.”

The interesting thing about my creative journey is how much I’ve changed. From starting out as someone who aspired to be creative but didn’t know the how or the what, to six years later wanting to inspire creativity in others. Want to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -

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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Turning 50 and Setting Goals

Thanksgiving table activity I'm thankful for | kids adults
“I’m thankful for…” cards are available in my Etsy shop.

A few years ago my friend was turning 50 and she made a list of life improvements and goals she wanted to reach/accomplish during her 50th year. It was a great list – a positive list – incorporate daily exercise, take a trip without the kids to visit a friend, and other things focused on herself. What has really impressed me is that years later she maintains many of the positive changes.

So now that I’m about to turn 50 – I should have a list, shouldn’t I? Of course I have a list of projects I’m working on and a list of other “future” ideas – I make lists every day, but nothing stands out as a life goal, or a “midlife” goal.

  • I suppose writing a book would have been on my list if I hadn’t, back in September, self published my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life. A guide to introducing creativity into your life.
  • Being a guest on a podcast would also have been on my list, mostly because I listen to so many of them, but I had the great pleasure recently of being interviewed by Nache Snow of the Studio 78 podcast. A podcast about creative women entrepreneurs and how they started their side hustle or business endeavor. FYI the episode will air December 1st.
  • I do want one day to attend Craftcation, the business and makers conference is California, but I’m a few years away from that. Trips in the near future will be college tours and family trips.

So what are my life goals? What are my plans for 50? What have I always wanted to achieve? Possibly I’m stumped for answers because: I’m blessed with a loving (and funny) husband, three smart, healthy kids, a comfortable home (not too far from the beach), a patchwork creative career that is bringing me a lot of fulfillment, and my regular creative practice of painting, drawing, and writing about creativity – which brings me so much joy. Maybe I’m good. Maybe I’m ready for 50 already.

Pilgrim coloring page fun Thanksgiving activity for kids
Pilgrim coloring page is available in my Etsy shop.

Want to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -

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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I’m turning 50 and the kids are growing up

I paint the ocean in watercolor. Eileen McKenna

In 2020 I turn 50. It doesn’t bother me that much because I feel young, but it is strange. The biggest sign that I’m getting older is that we have one child away at college, another applying to colleges, and our “baby” started high school.

As I enter this new phase I was happy to find MidlifeRambler.com and connect with Katy the founder. Katy says,

“I started Midlife Rambler because I like reading so many of the great lifestyle blogs out there written by all the creative 30-somethings of the world but I wished I had something to read that was a little more focused on the interests and needs of women my age. 

Women my age often seem to be under-represented and it can be difficult to find places on the Internet that speak to us and value us. Women at midlife are entering a new phase of our lives: a phase where we (mostly) stop focusing on raising our children and starting planning our next act. What will that look like? What do we even want anyway?”

Personally, the things helping me with these transitions are having work that I’ve been able to expand on, and having a hobby that I love. I have had the pleasure of contributing an article on “Finding a Hobby you’ll love” to Midlife Rambler. Visit https://www.midliferambler.com/how-to-find-a-hobby-youll-love/ to read it.

Have advice on navigating the kids leaving the nest? I’d love to hear.

Photo by Dawn Herlihy Reilly.

Would you like to: Be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

Creative Exploration book -

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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Online Video Lesson: Easy Birch Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners


Two years ago I created a blog post called “Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners.” The post outlined the steps I took to create this birch forest painting.Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners

I created this image to go with it and pinned it on Pinterest.
Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn watercolor techniques! #winter #forest #watercolor #beginners

The post became my most viewed post. Currently it has over 47,000 views!

For a long time I aspired to create a watercolor video lesson. It is much easier to learn by watching something then to read about it. But I struggled with the exact format I would use to create the video lesson. Finally I came up with a format and figured my most popular post was the obvious lesson to start with.

Instead of a long continuous video where I explain what I’m doing as I paint the project, my format is as follows. For almost every step, you can listen as I explain the step. You can also read the slide to follow along. Then you can watch a video demonstration of that step. My hope is that this format will better communicate the nuance of each step.

I’m really excited to see how effective the video lesson is. The birch forest painting project is such a great project for beginners. You learn so much about watercolor while painting the project. And it yields a great final painting at any level.

Easy Birch Forest Watercolor Online Video Painting Lesson – Learn Watercolor with this simple project!

  • Learn several watercolor techniques
  • 10 step, easy to follow 17 minute video lesson
  • Listen and/or read the easy to follow instructions, watch a video demonstrations of each step
  • Great for watercolor beginners

Click here to purchase access to the Birch Forest Online Video Lesson. 

Watercolor techniques used:

  • Masking areas with tape
  • Wet on wet painting
  • Dry on dry
  • Using salt
  • Softening lines with water
  • Adding details in ink

Click here to purchase access to the Birch Forest Online Video Lesson. 

Would you like to: Be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

Creative Exploration book -

Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction
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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Draw Paint Craft 15 Minutes a Day

The path to regular creativity is to simply draw, paint, craft, or whatever interests you, for 15 minutes almost every day. If you schedule the time, and plan for it – even if you are busy – you should be able to manage 15 minutes of creative time most days.

These brief creative periods reinforce your creative priorities, and allow you to get in the creative mindset – which will lead to more creativity, and longer creative session when time allows.

Carving out 15 minutes of creative time says, “This is important to me.” And it is calming and meditative. As you work creative ideas and plans may form – write down your ideas!

Regular creativity opens you up to inspiration, even during other parts of your day.

Want to explore creativity? My new ebook takes you step by step through the process for introducing regular creativity into your life, finding inspiration, and exploring mediums.

Learn more about Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

Creative Exploration book -

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!

Draw Paint Craft 15 Minutes a Day the path to regular creativity


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How to Find your Thing – Art Medium, Subject, Style

How to Find your Thing - Art Medium, Subject, Style | Creative Exploration | creative process discovery
A while back I read an article about an artist who used mannequin parts in her work. I was so inspired by the story! (Not to start creating with mannequin parts.) I was so intrigued that this artist had arrived at a place where this was her thing. How did she get there?

At the time, I had been dabbling in a few continuing ed art classes, but was ready for more. What would I work on if I was totally free to work on anything? If I was free from teachers and classmates, and even the confines of a classroom, what would I create?

It was with this curiosity and excitement that I made My Creative Resolution – the commitment and the blog – and began my creative journey. I was filled with so many ideas and possibilities. I began to create regularly and explore.

In the beginning I wished my work was more cohesive. I was all over the place. Now I know, that’s how you start – by trying everything that interests you – subjects and mediums alike.

Some things are passing fancies, others become common themes that connect your work. The more we persist with a medium, the more time we put in, the more our unique style and skills emerge.

Here is how to find your thing – medium, subject, style:

  • Commit your time to pursuing it.
  • Put in the work regularly.
  • Follow what interests you and try different things.
  • Focus on the mediums and subjects that appeal to you.
  • Continually put in the work.

Ready to find your thing? My new ebook takes you step by step through the process for introducing regular creativity into your life, finding inspiration, and exploring mediums.

Learn more about Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

Creative Exploration book -

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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Your Creative History and a Free Worksheet from “Creative Exploration”

“What experiences in your life have shaped your attitude towards creativity and your own abilities?

What has held you back?

What is your biggest creative fear?

Many of us have had experiences where comments from others have affected our confidence and our feelings of worthiness regarding creativity. I was considered pretty creative in my younger years. I loved art class in elementary school. When Mrs. Kareska pushed the cart filled with art supplies into our room I would be bursting with excitement. I recall a project where we were given tissue paper to use to create Christmas cards. The tissue paper was to mimic stained glass. Immediately I had the idea of a wreath with berries on a door. I remember the thrill of realizing my vision.

In high school art class I became aware that other people were more “talented” than I was. One girl, Peggy, drew the most amazing pencil portraits. The shading was incredible. Thinking back on it now, I know that I couldn’t have created those with the skills I had at that time. But it has dawned on me that if I had practiced and learned shading and other techniques, I could have created my own version of portraits that would have made me proud. At the time, I just assumed Peggy could do amazing portraits and I couldn’t.”

Think about your Creative History –> Download a free worksheet about Creative History by clicking here. It’s a sneak peek inside the Creative Exploration ebook.

Learn more about Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

how to be creative | creative exploration | regular creative practice | creative worksheet your creative history

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!