my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design


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20 consecutive days of drawing and painting

Feathers in my sketchbook. 20 days of drawing consecutively.

My mom called to say, “You haven’t painted today.” Thanks for the reminder mom.

Yesterday I didn’t feel like it but I grabbed my sketchbook anyway. I didn’t want to break my streak. I grabbed a magazine and inspired by the feathers on the cover, started drawing. One night this week I even got out of bed when I realized I’d forgotten to draw! I know how quickly one skipped day can become two or three or more.

Drawing from magazines - Real Simple

Even when I’m reluctant to start drawing or painting once I get started  the switch flips and I’m into it.

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Daily Creative Habits – Take 2

Daily creative habits, sketchbook work, Day 1
Day 1 again. With vacation and other busyness behind me, I’m trying to get back into the creative mode! Back to turning creativity into a habit (again). I played around on my iPad this morning. Later I pulled out my sketchbook.

Drawing on the iPad in Adobe Sketch

I wrote a new checklist to keep me on track.

Creative Checklist:

I know from experience that the daily work, propels me to keep up with the other stuff. How do you stay on track?

Did you see my new “Swimming Laps” pattern?
Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

I am a huge fan of the Canson sketchbook, because of the bright white, thick pages that don’t buckle when I use watercolor.
Favorite sketchbook

This posts contains affiliate links to products 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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Back to Daily Creative Habits

Back to daily creative habits. Shells in the sketchbook.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve done minimal drawing and painting. Periods like this seem to be a pattern for me. I think about doing creative work all the time, but I put everything before it – even binge watching shows on Netflix. It’s not creative block. I have tons of ideas. I just can’t seem to make myself pick up the sketchbook or sit down with my paints. And as the days go by it gets harder, and harder.

Experience has shown me that these periods can be avoided if I maintain the habit of drawing daily in my sketchbook. So today as I finally grabbed my sketchbook – I made the commitment to draw in it everyday. Other than making the time, I don’t put pressure on myself to make the results great. I know if I do the work, and play around, good things will come. I already feel happier after drawing these shells that I collected recently.

I first learned about the power of habits when I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Back then I had also fallen out of the habit of being creative. I learned from the book that it was harder for me to be creative because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer something I did without thinking.

Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin's book "Better than Before"

Rubin perfectly states it here,
“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

Read Better than Before.

This post contains affiliate links to products 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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Does your astrological sign affect your creativity?


A few years ago I had a bit of an epiphany while painting. I noticed a pattern where on Day One of a project, I was excited and enthusiastic. But on Day Two I was reluctant to work on it, and a bit intimidated. I really had to push myself to continue. Once I got started again, I figured out what I needed to do to finish the painting. It was the lack of a plan – the not knowing where to pick the project up – that intimidated me. The diving in on Day One without a plan didn’t scare me at all. It was fun! Why was this?

On a whim I googled “astrological sign traits” for Aries. I’m not that into astrology, but I couldn’t believe how dead on the description of Aries (on Huffington Post) was.

“Aries motto is “Ready, fire, aim!” It may be backwards for others, but you’d rather figure out what to do while you are doing it. Impulsive actions, however, can bring you your share of trouble. While others are gathering information to make informed decisions, you are already on your way. As such, you could suffer from false starts. In fact, you Aries are so good at starting things that you can be off onto your next project before completing the previous one. As you Aries mature, you learn to slow down your reaction time in order to think about the consequences of your actions.”

Wow! That totally describes me! Whenever I am assembling something and hit a snag, my husband will say, “Did you read the directions?” Of course I didn’t read the directions! Who needs those? (Obviously me, that’s why I’ve hit a snag.)

At the time my solution was to figure out a plan before stepping away from a project. Three years and many paintings later, I still don’t do much planning. I’ve embraced the “figure it out as I go,” at least in regards to my painting and general creativity. I still experience that Day Two reluctance, especially when I’m working on a subject that I’m less confident in, like painting figures. But, I have learned to force myself back into a project. Once I start I’m back in the zone and finishing a painting is so sweet!

Check out your sign’s traits on Huffington Post. Select your sign, and scroll down to “about the sign.” Let me know if anything rings true for you and your creativity.

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Read:
 19 Books for Creatives 11 Art Supplies I can't paint without


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Wreath with a polar bear

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…or is it a polar bear with a wreath? 😂 Day 2 Christmas countdown.

Here is the creative prompt list if you’d like to join in. All mediums are welcome! Use hashtag #adventmcr when posting.

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Marion is following along – see her day 2 drawing here.


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30 Days of Food In Watercolor

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Pomegranates – Day 30. Thank you to Charlie of World Watercolor Group for the food November prompts. I didn’t think about it when I started, but painting food everyday is out of my comfort zone. I would never have painted a turkey or a plate of mushrooms or leeks! But I was often happy with my results. It’s good to have a push in a different direction sometimes.

Here are my favorites from the month:

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I’m excited to really get into the spirit of Christmas and created my own prompt list to follow in December. Everyone and all mediums are welcome to join in. Use the hashtag #adventmcr when posting.

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Of course Charlie is inspiring everyone with a December list of prompts. Click here to see it. I’ll definitely be painting a Christmas sweater from his list!

BTW if you haven’t read it, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlie, founder of the World Watercolor Group. You can read the interview here.


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InkTober recap

Participating in InkTober was a great motivator. I got into the habit of working daily which was great. I didn’t follow the prompts but worked on what inspired me. I held off on adding Watercolor to my ink sketches, but towards the end I gave in. And purely by chance I got to meet the creator of InkTober Jake Parker!

I felt so good about doing all 31 days that this month I’m following the World Watercolor Group’s prompts. I’m glad to be back using Watercolor. Of course I’m still adding in some ink too!

Here are my favorites:

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Paint Regularly

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I’ve been missing watercolor lately. I’ve been busy doing other creative things: working in ink for InkTober, and playing around on the iPad with a stylus pen in Adobe Sketch and Adobe Draw.

When I finally sat down with my paints the other day it wasn’t easy. But I’ve learned not to give up, and as I worked I started having some success and was inspired to pull out two unfinished paintings. I went from struggling to learning to painting with confidence.

It had been 2 weeks since I last painted – way too much time! It reminded me of getting back into running after my third child was born. I was running once a week (and doing yoga and other things the other days). I realized that running once a week wasn’t enough. Every time I ran, I felt like I was starting over. It’s similar with painting, drawing, or any craft. The more you do it, the more your skills and confidence build. When too much time passes you start to lose those same things you worked so hard to build up.

So here’s to a more regular painting schedule. 🙂


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

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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?