Here’s what to do when it’s cold outside…

Read by the Fire🔥

It’s 14 degrees out, but feels like 5! Lately, I’m snuggling up and reading a lot, including “Family Business” about life and crime in NYC’s Chinatown from the perspective of Detective Linda Chin.

“The Hunting Party” a modern Agatha Christie tale, about Oxford friends that takes place in the wilderness of Scotland. “Everyone’s Invited. Everyone’s a suspect.”

My work in "365 Days of Art" - Eileen McKenna
My work in “365 Days of Art” – Eileen McKenna

“365 Days of Art” – I’m having a lot of fun with the daily art exercises in this book. Great way to get your creativity flowing! 

If you are struggling with what to focus on, I just recommended a favorite to my friend, and I’ll recommend it to you – “The Crossroads of Should and Must.” I loved this book!

Learn more about all these books (and more favorites) here.
Stay warm!
Eileen

Explore your Creativity – Click here!

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Creative Resolution

It’s hard to believe, it’s been eight years since I made a resolution that changed my life. On New Year’s Eve in 2013, I made a creative resolution to make creativity a part of my daily life. Prior to that I dabbled in a few drawing and painting classes, but I wanted more.

Explore your creativity at https://eileenmckenna.com/ebook/

Back then I didn’t know what mediums I would work in – I thought I might refinish furniture. I just knew I wanted to explore all possibilities and that was the exciting part! I learned a lot about myself, especially in the beginning. Prior to my creative resolution, I was a serial quitter. I quit projects when they got challenging. By pushing through, I learned that all projects have a tough part. Once I began finishing projects, I was motivated to finish new ones. Finishing became addicting!

My resolution had an immediate effect on me. Simply put, regular creativity made me happier. Over time, new opportunities presented themselves. Three and a half years ago I began teaching at a kids’ art studio. I also now teach adult workshops at my local library. I’ve illustrated a few children’s books. This September I left graphic design behind and became a museum educator. None of these things were on my radar or would have been possible had I not made my creative resolution.

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The main thing I learned is that “talent is just a starting point.” Don’t let a self perceived lack of “talent” hold you back from creating!

Need guidance on starting your own creative routine and exploring subjects and mediums? Check out my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.

It’s the perfect time of year for a creative resolution of your own!

Looking to explore your creativity…

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A few of my favorite things…

This year we are doing something new. Usually, we each pick a name out of a hat and buy a gift for that person. This year, my sister-in-law suggested we buy a “few of our favorite things.”

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

– from the Sound of Music

What a fun idea! Maybe the gifts we will become our new favorite things.

My favorite thing?

Painting in watercolor of course! I bought a starter watercolor tube set, watercolor paper, painter’s tape, white gouache and to offer some instruction my book: Beginner Watercolor Exploration. 

I can’t wait to see all the gifts and I hope the person who picks mine is excited to try watercolor!

What are your favorite things?

get started in watercolor ~

Learn the fundamentals while painting!

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide
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Look a little longer

I’ve been working at a museum since September. Last week, I learned that on average people view a work of art for only FIVE seconds! Can you believe that? Actually, who am I kidding? I’ve certainly zipped through a museum focused on what was for lunch.

In my role at the museum, I work with kids and we ask them to focus on the details, to look for a longer amount of time and to share what they see. It is really fun and fulfilling!

The other day, I glanced out the window at one of our Crepe Myrtles. The tree glows when the sunlight hits it. I thought about the five second statistic and how it’s not just about artwork, but things that inspire us. How long do we sit and observe something that strikes us? I know myself, I’m pretty impatient. If something inspires me, I’ll take a photo or rush to pull out my sketchbook. While drawing is a way to help you observe, I thought, “What if I just look at the tree for a few minutes?” What else will I notice?

As I sat there I was amazed at all the colors in one tree – green, orange, gold, red, purple. The leaves, hit by the sun, glowed – like they are on fire. When the sun went behind a cloud, the colors dimmed. As I looked at the closely entwined branches rising upward from the soil, I could imagine them taking on the shape of a woman. 

Next time something inspires me, instead of snapping a quick photo and walking away, I’m going to spend a few minutes really looking and noticing all the details.

How about you?

Looking to explore your creativity…

Explore your creativity at https://eileenmckenna.com/shop/

Play and have fun with this easy idea…

Play and doodle step 1 - Eileen McKennna

Last week, I participated in a virtual art workshop. A small piece of canvas was supplied to participants prior to the workshop. I taped my canvas square to a piece of paper, so I could paint to the edges without getting paint all over. After the workshop was over and I removed my canvas square, I had areas of acrylic paint on the edges of my paper. Over the next few days, I mindlessly doodled on these patches of paint. It was so fun!

In fact, it was so enjoyable, I purposely made more patches of acrylic paint to doodle on! Art shouldn’t always be about the final piece. The creative process and the fun of exploration are just as important.

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Yesterday, when I pulled out my new patches of paint to doodle on – I was so excited! The bright colors were so inspiring.

When you have a chance – Play. Try my acrylic doodling idea or doodle on a newspaper, catalog, or scrap paper. Just have fun and play. 

Play and doodle step 2 - Eileen McKennna

You don’t need any specific materials to play – grab what you have on hand. But if you want to know what I used:

Happy Playing!

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!

Planting Fields Arboretum and Coe Hall

Planting Fields Arboretum
Planting Fields Arboretum

Last Sunday, we visited the Planting Fields Arboretum and Coe Hall in Oyster Bay, Long Island.

Planting Fields Arboretum

The grounds are beautiful, we had visited last year, but this time we booked a tour of Coe Hall. It was so interesting. There are pieces of stained glass that originated in Anne Boleyn’s childhood home! And a weird light box in the bathroom that was an invention of Dr. Kellogg (like the cereal).

One of the things I loved the most, were the murals by William Chanler. One of Chanler’s original murals is in the breakfast room and depicts Buffalo in Wyoming, where the Coe family also resided. Chanler built up the layers of paint, giving the buffalo a 3D effect. He added gold metallic paint too. It’s really cool.

A replica of another Chanler mural is in Mai Coe’s bedroom. The mural is a silvery tropical scene of birds and palm trees. The most interesting part, is the fine layer of lace painted on top of it.

I also loved the dining room with tall windows on all three sides. That’s where some of the Anne Boleyn stained glass is. The beautiful candelabras were refracting the sunlight and creating rainbows all over the room.

Planting Fields Arboretum
Greenhouse Planting Fields Arboretum

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“LOOK! UP IN THE SKY!”

I love the ocean, but I’m also fascinated with the sky. The colors at sunrise and sunset are unbelievable. Every morning when I enter the high school parking lot I’m greeted by a wide open view of the sun rising over the trees. It’s a great way to start the day.

When I look up at the sky, or down from an airplane window, I’m amazed at how the clouds remind me of the ocean. Sometimes there is so much movement and power, other times it’s calm. 

If you are struggle with the question of what to paint – just look up!

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https://mycreativeresolution.com/2020/09/18/14-creative-fall-project-ideas/

Setting yourself up for Creative Success

I’m excited for Inktober, excited to get back to daily creativity. I’ve adjusted to my new work schedule and am ready to fit drawing and painting in. This is how I’m setting myself up for a successful October and how you can too!

Inktober check off calendar – Eileen McKenna

Organize your supplies. I’ve selected the tools I’ll be using for daily ink drawings – a sketchbook that isn’t great with watercolor but the smooth white pages are perfect for ink. I have enough pages left for all of October plus a few warmup pages. I even dated all the pages to make sure. And I have my favorite ink pen ready – a Uniball signo.

Find something or someone to hold you accountable. I printed a small calendar for daily checking off. I plan on posting my daily work on Instagram. When we feel we have to check in with someone or something (like social media) it helps keep us on track.

Schedule creative time. Pick the time of day you plan on creating. For me it’s early morning before work. It’s a nice relaxing way to start the day. If something gets in the way, I can always catchup later in the day.

“Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life"
Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life”

Make a plan. The more detailed your plan the better. I recommend in my book Creative Exploration that you start simple – pencil and paper. Each week after that you can try out different mediums. I’m participating in Inktober so I’ll be using an ink pen. When the mood strikes I’ll add watercolor. The benefit of some kind of plan is to prevent you from either not sitting down to create because you don’t know what to do or from sitting down and not having any direction. In Creative Exploration I recommend keeping a running list of subject ideas to refer to when you need it.

Find a creative space. Having a designated creative space makes a big difference. Years ago I took over our dining table and leave my supplies out. It makes sitting down to create so easy. No setup needed. Sometimes when I want to get back in the zone, I spend time organizing my supplies and space. By the time I’m done, I’m so ready to get to work!

Be kind to yourself. No one is perfect. Missing a day here or there isn’t the end of the world. Forgive yourself and pick up your pen or paints the next day. Don’t let one day turn into a week.

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October is Inktober

Let’s Get Excited for Inktober by Eileen McKenna

When I think of October I think of Fall colors and black ink lines. October is InkTober! For several years I’ve participated in Inktober, a daily challenge to create in ink. In the early years of my participation, I was a purest, only drawing in ink. But it’s hard for me to stay away from my watercolors for a whole month! In more recent years I’ve blended the two – creating fall themed illustrations with ink outlines using my favorite ink pen.

Inktober illustration by Eileen McKenna

There are optional Inktober prompts – which I don’t follow. Prompts are great, but I prefer to paint what inspires me. There are tons of creative challenges online. It doesn’t matter which one you follow or if you follow all the “rules.” The point of these challenges is to inspire and motivate us to create more regularly.

I’m adjusting to my new work schedule and am ready to fit in daily creativity – so Inktober comes at the perfect time for me. What about you? Are you ready for Inktober?!

Learn more:

Learn more about Inktober
find out where I met the creator of Inktober,
and read my Inktober supply checklist:

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