How to Motivate to Finish Creative Projects

Watercolor Sunset Painting by Eileen McKenna

For three months this sunset painting sat unfinished. I couldn’t motivate to pick it up and work on it, until now. What changed?

For one thing, with the holidays behind us and a new fresh year ahead, I recommitted to creativity. My goal is to sit and paint every morning for at least 15 minutes. So far this year, I’ve done just that plus a few days at the end of 2020.

When I sit down to paint I usually have no plan. Sometimes I start by organizing my art supplies. That’s when I uncovered this painting (but immediately set it aside). I often start by playing in my sketchbook. There is no pressure with a sketchbook. I feel free to explore. As I paint, ideas come to me.

It’s so interesting how you can go from no idea…to painting bananas…to “It’s time to finish that sunset.” It just proves how important it is to regularly sit down to paint, to show up every day.

There are days that nothing exciting happens on the page, but that’s part of the creative process too. No matter what the results, time spent being creativity clears my mind.

I encourage you to paint, draw (or whatever) for 15 minutes each day. You never know what it will lead to!

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Ready to get started in watercolor? The “Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide” is for you!

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises & projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

Learn more here!

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor

Set yourself up for a creative 2021

The new year is thankfully here. Like many people, I’m trying to figure out how to be the best I can, in the new year. What systems help me and what bad habits hurt me when it comes to staying creative and working towards my goals?

Aiming for a daily illustration. This one is inspired by Flow Magazine’s book “Inspiring Women”

Daily dreaming and planning in my notebook. This helps me stay focused on what I want to work on. I dream, I plan, I look back and see what projects I may have forgotten about. I’ve been doing this almost every day since I started my blog 7 years ago, maybe longer.

Painting early in the day vs. attacking my to-do list. I’m more likely to paint if it’s one of the first things I do. If I start with work or other to-do list items I’m doomed for the day. I find it so hard to get back to a free creative mind after the other stuff.

A project. Whenever I have an ongoing project or theme that I’m working on, it is so much easier to motivate myself to sit and create. There is something driving me.

The weather. A bright sunny day and time spent outdoors help inspire me to create.

Regular creatively. Even if it’s just 10/15 minutes a day, regular creativity inspires more creativity. Although I made the resolution 7 years ago and started this blog to reinforces it, I still regularly have to recommit to creativity. It’s constant work – but so much reward!

 

Eileen McKenna watercolor artist

I’m Eileen, a watercolor artist. 13 years ago I didn’t draw or paint! A lack of confidence held me back for years. I now believe talent is just a starting point. Creativity is for everyone! It has brought so much joy and opportunity to my life. What are you waiting for? I’ve developed a process for you to follow! Get my book “Creative Exploration” and explore mediums and subjects to find your thing! Develop your own creative practice! Learn more here.

Creative exploration

Northern Lights Homeschool Art and Science Lesson

The Northern Lights are a magical phenomenon! They make a great subject for an art and science combo lesson.

The Northern Lights also know as Aurora Borealis is the result of “charged particles from the Sun reacting with particles in the air. Although the magnetic field protects Earth from most of these particles, some slip through in the weaker areas near the North and South poles, creating amazing light shows such as the one seen in the video above.”
Source of explanation: https://www.sciencekids.co.nz/videos/earth/northernlights.html

The video below gives an easy to understand explanation of how and why these lights form.

After showing the above videos, allow kids to create their own Northern Lights. Use the step by step printable painting tutorial – available on Etsy – to guide the kids to create a beautiful painting! With this tutorial, kids will have the opportunity to play with watercolor and build their artistic confidence.

This fun painting project produces beautiful results! Practice five watercolor techniques including:

  • Masking areas with tape
  • Wet on wet painting
  • Splattering
  • Dry on dry painting
  • Painting layers

The Northern Lights Polar Bear painting tutorial is available for download on Etsy here.

A Creative New Year

Sketchbook

I’m always relieved when the busyness of the holidays is over. After Thanksgiving “the holidays” – a small thing on my to do list – grows with each passing day until it’s the main thing I’m working on. I become consumed with shopping, taking inventory of deliveries, decorating, wrapping, planning, baking, more shopping…

And then it’s over. The week that follows is usually a fairly quiet week of not much more that reading, tv watching, and eating leftover candy. I happily devour the creative magazines that filled my stocking. Magazines like flow and Mollie Makes. I read about other creatives and plan and dream about the New Year.

It was during this time, seven years ago, that I committed to regular creativity and started this blog – My Creative Resolution. Seven years ago! My kids don’t remember a time when a section of the table wasn’t filled with art supplies. They assume I’ve always drawn and painted. 

Starting a blog added a level of accountability that prevented me from putting my creative goals aside. Before the blog, there were several Christmases where I received a new sketchbook, vowed to work in it every day, but ultimately forgot about it. Creativity has brought so much joy to my life, and many unexpected opportunities! It is impossible to plan everything. You have to start your own journey to find out what twists and turns await you!

Not sure where to start?

I’ve created 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. Your interests are taken into account. 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!

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

Start now by clicking here!

 

Creativity in Midlife

I’m on a podcast! “Women in the Middle” with Suzy Rosenstein, Episode #179 “Finding My Passion to Teach Creativity in Midlife with Eileen McKenna”

Our conversation covers:

  • Why it’s important to pay attention to your deepest desires.
  • How to look for clues about what you’ve always been passionate about.
  • Why exploration itself needs to become a skill you can get better at.
  • How paying attention to your inner voice can help you get unstuck and find your own voice in midlife.
  • How being uncomfortable can be a normal part of the process of your own personal development.

Watercolor Zoom Lessons coming in 2021!

I have exciting plans for 2021 and I want you to be a part of them! Last New Year’s we had the privilege of visiting Paris. It was amazing. After the trip I revisited my photos and memories by painting them. Instead of doing it alone, I developed the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program so participants could virtually “visit” Paris and improve upon their watercolor skills. This year – I’m so excited – I’m expanding on the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program by also offering online zoom lessons.* We can meet and paint together! It is going to be so fun. Zoom lessons will start mid January. Please note – the zoom lessons will be an additional fee.  

You can start the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program at any time. If you are interested in the upcoming small group zoom lessons please email me and let me know. There is no commitment at this point – I just want to make sure you receive all the details!

*The zoom lessons will be an additional cost to the current “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program. The zoom lessons are not included in the cost of the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program.

__________________________________________________________

Ready to get started in watercolor? The “Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide” is for you!

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises & projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

Learn more here!

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor

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Hoping for a creative new year but don’t know where to start? Try my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life – Develop a regular practice of creating, explore mediums and subjects in search of your thing, and experience the joy that creativity brings. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point!

Creative Exploration book -

Christmas Paper Quilt Making Kit – a fun Christmas craft

Looking for a fun Christmas project? This Christmas Paper Quilt Making Kit is printable! After ordering, simply download the files, and cut the patterned paper into squares (trim marks are provided). Then get started designing your Christmas Quilt.

Many variations are possible! Your quilt design depends on where you place the patterned squares on the key.

To order and download the Quilt Kit visit: https://www.etsy.com/listing/917211903/christmas-craft-paper-quilt-making-kit

Inject calm into the holiday season with this 15 minute daily practice

Commit to creativity this December!

December can be a crazy month as we prepare for the holidays. I don’t even need to remind you that things are extra stressful this year. One of my favorite things to do in December is to create every single day.

Creativity is very important to me, but life always seems to want to pull me away from it. I should say I let life (and Netflix) pull me away. Because December is such a full month, I find it the most important time to recommit to creativity. I encourage you to the same. Just 15 minutes a day can be such a stress reliever!

For the last few years, I’ve created an illustration each day in December. This year I’m trying a new medium – block printing. I’ve gotten a head start – I organized my tools, watched a few YouTube videos, sketched a few ideas. I’ve even carved two small designs!

In the past my goal was to post a completed illustration each day. This year I simply want to work in the new medium for at least 15 minutes a day. I have to admit it’s hard to be a beginner! That first day carving my linoleum block felt so awkward. But I know from experience that a month of focusing on one thing can lead to real progress.

I hope you’ll join me in creating every day!

There are a lot of great kits to get you started with a new medium in this blog post.

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Browse Ornaments & Cards in my Zazzle shop.

4 tips for professional looking invitations | Christmas holiday invites | Cookie Swap invitation

Follow through on creative ideas with this simple tool!


One of the biggest problems we have as creatives is too many ideas. Have you ever been working on a project and you get an idea and “squirrel!” – You set off in a new direction? If the same thing happens again while you‘re working on the “new” idea, you’ll never finish anything!

One of the most helpful tools I use to keep me focused is a notebook. My notebook and morning routine have enabled me to keep my New Year’s Resolution (My Creative Resolution) for almost 8 years! Every morning I write in my notebook and check in with my creative projects.

Aside from daily writing, a critical part is checking back on previous entries. Doing this reminds me of past ideas and projects. It allows me to re-focus back on things I may have forgotten about. When I’m revisiting past entries I also can decide which ideas not to pursue, because it’s hard to get things done if we spread ourselves too thin. Looking back allows me to feel satisfaction when I’ve finished a project.

Sometimes I have an idea that in the moment I’m very excited about, but as time passes I lose confidence in it. But when an idea keeps popping up – I know it’s time to follow through.

This is how I was able to finish the book based on My Creative Resolution – “Creative Exploration.” The idea for the book kept coming back to me. I would work on it for a while and then move on to other things. When the book idea came back around for the second or third year in a row, I figured it was time. I immediately hired my own proofreader. I knew having a due date and someone else would hold me accountable to finish a draft.

If you are having trouble following through on your ideas, I encourage you to get your own notebook. Start writing down your goals and ideas. Check in with your notebook (and projects) daily. It makes a world of difference! Want to be creative but don’t know where to start? Try “Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.”

Creative Ideas to make Thanksgiving more fun this year!