my creative resolution

Painting, Illustration, Surface Design, and Animation


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I’ll admit it…There aren’t any daily creative habits going on here :(

sketchwithsneaks
I admire those that have committed to a daily creative practice and keep to it. People like Crystal Moody and Charlie O’Shields and so many others. But I can’t do it. I’ve done it for short spurts – 14 days for Valentine’s Day or 17 days for St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve done numerous consecutive days in my sketchbook but inevitably I break the chain.

I’d like to say, “I don’t have the time,” but that isn’t entirely true. I do have other things going on that take a lot of my time – my family, which includes my 3 kids, and my design and marketing business. But I also find time to binge watch Netflix shows, so time isn’t the whole problem.

I get very focus on whatever project I’m working on. It may be painting, or my sketchbook, or it may be a new website I’m developing, or getting the kids ready for the start of the school year. I’ll have blinders on and that project will be what I do when I have a minute to spare. Sure I’m still multi-tasking all the other stuff, but it can be hard to mentally squeeze something else in. Lately my creative practice feels scattered, like it hasn’t been the focus in a while.

It’s not that I’m not a disciplined person. I run 3 days a week. Eat fairly healthy. I am very disciplined about my work. I work from home for myself. So I guess I need to be.

I know from Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better than Before” that it’s easier when something is a habit. We do it without thinking. There is no internal willpower struggle to do it. I put on my running clothes and sneakers when it’s time to run. I may not be happy about it all the time, but I get out there and do it.

I was briefly in the habit of sketching with my coffee while I waited for the kids to get dressed for school. I’d sit down with my coffee, grab the sketchbook without thinking, and start doodling any everyday object I could find. It was great, and it would get me thinking of things I’d like to paint. This 5 minute habit encouraged more creativity. But inevitably one day I wouldn’t feel like it and the doodling would become only occasionally.

Being creative makes me happy, but right now I feel like I’m only doing the bare minimum. I know a daily habit is very effective for many people. I also know it’s not my personality. Some days I want to dive into creativity and other days I want to, or have to, dive into something else. For me it doesn’t have to be daily, but I need some kind of structure and routine to make sure the creativity happens.

I read in Rubin’s book about bundling habits. Adding something to an already established habit. That’s what I’m going to try now. On the days I go running, I’m going to create. As I get ready for my run, I’m going to set up my supplies. I’ll get the process started and when I come back from my run, I’ll “dig in” and get creative.

How do you make sure your creativity happens?

 


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“Paint quick and don’t overwork it” (note to self)

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There is inspiration everywhere you look at the beach – the sand, sea, and sky. Lately I’ve been noticing the endless supply of figures – in all shapes and sizes. Occasionally I’ll pull out a small sketchbook, but usually I take photos to draw later.

The female lifeguard caught my eye, because that was me 30 years ago! I’m trying to work fast and loose. This is the type of painting that paralyzes me. Afraid to ruin it, I take forever, and if I finish, it looks stiff and lifeless. So, my goal is to push through and finish today whatever the result.

Sketching beach bodies #sketchbook #beach #beachbodies

A photo posted by Eileen McKenna (@eileenmckenna) on


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Going with the flow

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I ordered new watercolor pads in the 8″ x 8″ size I love. Somehow I ended up with 12″ x 12″. Of course I could return them, but I thought maybe I’d give it a try. Maybe I’m ready for a change? The 8″ x  8″ was starting to seem small and a bit restrictive.

This morning I started doing my normal ink work in my sketchbook, intent on filling the page with starfish. After one starfish, I stopped and grabbed the 12″ x 12″. So much more room to repeat shapes! So far I’ve painted some of the starfish and parts of the sandy background.

I’m loving the 12″ x 12″! The final product will be such a substantial size. It’s funny how we work in a certain way, develop habits, but one thing can set us on a new path, new work habits.


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I need to start, to figure out where I’m headed

imageI was working in my sketchbook today, without any real plan, just thinking of the beach. It occurred to me that you can try to have a detailed plan but in the end you have to just start, do the work, and see what unfolds. I thought this was an epiphany for me until I thought about my creative resolution.

I started late Dec. 2013, with no real plan other than being creative on a regular basis. I thought I might end up refinishing furniture! Instead, after trying a few things, I ended up working steadily in watercolor.

Today’s “ephinany” felt like a big deal because, for awhile, I’ve wanted to work on a bigger project. Something that would tie things together. Instead of feeling like I work on individual pieces.

I have a theme. I have inspiration projects (by other artists). I have ideas, but I don’t 100% know what the style and form of the project will be, and it frustrates me. Doodling in my sketchbook today I realized I need to dive in and start. I’ll never know what the final product will be, until I work through it. Just like my creative resolution, it will be a journey of experimenting, working, and evolving.


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The Beautiful Bahamas


sunsetpalmpalmturqocean
What inspiration. Everything was beautiful – the color of the ocean, the fish, the palm trees, the sunsets! I can’t wait to pull out the paints.🙂

No filter necessary #reflections #reflectionsinwater #sunset #sunsetonthewater

A photo posted by Eileen McKenna (@eileenmckenna) on


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Painting the Beach

beachandshells
After painting a few flowers, I wanted a new subject. The beach is my favorite place. I’m always trying to paint it but struggle to really capture it – the shadows and waves in the water, the changing color of the sand. When I put too much detail in the water it just doesn’t look right. When I work quicker and looser it looks better, but seems to be missing something. After a few attempts at painting the beach, I needed a new subject (again). Right in front of me were shells we collected at the beach. Ah! Still the beach, but now I’m zooming in on the details. This one was fun and I like how it came out.


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Sad news

rainbow
My dad passed away last Thursday. Diagnosed with cancer around Christmas, he put up an admirable fight. He was 83. A few months before his 80th birthday, his twin brother, Jack, passed away suddenly. After that I was on high alert and knew our time together was precious. Of course once he was diagnosed I knew our time was even more precious. I think we became closer in his last months – like when I was young and I was his pal.

meanddad

An hour or so after my dad’s death, my cousin came over to my parents’ and told me, “Look for the signs.” She told me a story about her dad, my uncle Tommy, and a rainbow she once saw. Shortly after her story it began pouring, then the most complete and beautiful rainbow appeared. The rainbow was perfectly placed for us to see from my parents’ terrace. My mouth dropped open. A few days later someone on facebook commented, “The rainbow means he arrived safely.”🙂

I tell my kids that I cry because I was lucky enough to have such a great dad. Apparently others thought he was great too – the line at the wake went out the doors of the funeral home and down the block! Dad wouldn’t have believed it. The outpouring of love from family and friends has been amazing and has made this sad time easier for all of us.


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A Creative Kickstart

workspace echinacea
World Watercolor Month has given me the creative kick in the butt I needed to get back to painting. I’ve dabbled a little in drawing and painting recently but most of my creative energy has been focused elsewhere – Specifically on growing my web design and social media marketing business.

Once I heard that Charlie from doodlewash got July officially named World Watercolor Month, I knew painting would be my focus for the month. It’s funny how we may want to do something like focus on painting or our health, but it takes outside influences to get us to make it happen.

The day before the start, I prepped paper by taping it down onto several boards. I walked around our garden taking photos for inspiration and reference. My goal is to paint every day, not necessarily have a final piece to post – just paint every day. It’s not too late to join in! Learn more about World Watercolor Month here.

Montauk daisies #worldwatercolormonth

A photo posted by Eileen McKenna (@eileenmckenna) on


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A Bee in the Garden

bee
Only for my friend Charlie at doodlewash.com would I risk my life to take photos of this bee to paint. Just kidding, I’ve been told these bees aren’t the stinging kind. Of course I snapped the photo at the beginning of June with Charlie’s theme of a nature doodlewash in mind, but waited ’til the last day of the month to finish and post. I do need a deadline to get things finished!

World Watercolor Month starts tomorrow! Watch the trailer here.


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It’s National Typewriter Day!

typewriter

I remember typing cover letters on my sister’s blue typewriter. The ad for the job I ended up getting, was one of those tiny classified ads in the NY Times. It was less than 1/2″ high. But I was so excited to start working at an advertising agency!

A special shout out to my friend Charlie O’Shields who famously has doodlewashed many national days! And he got July to be officially named World Watercolor Month! More info on Facebook: Doodlewash and World Watercolor Month

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