Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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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

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How to Find a Hobby

There are transitions in our lives where we suddenly have more time for ourselves – the youngest starts kindergarten, the kids go off to college, or move out on their own, retirement. With many of these transitions there is a mix emotions, yearning for the time before, coupled with excitement for the possibilities of next phase.

People may advise – do something for you, get a hobby. But the question is often, but what? Here are steps to exploring and finding hobbies that you will enjoy.

1. Compile a list of everything that appeals you. Write a list of every hobby, activity, goal, project, that has peaked your interest over the years. Think both broadly and specific. For example, hiking (broad), refinishing the living room coffee table (specific).

2. Prioritize the items on your list. Use A, B, C, D to assign your level of interest. If there are several items with an A priority, number the As to prioritize them. Rewrite the As in order. You now have a list of what hobbies and projects to try. For more details on the prioritizing process click here.

3. Schedule the time. If you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Schedule time to research, learn, and engage in the hobby or project. I recommend at the least five short sessions, and one longer session each week. I try to paint for 15 minutes in the mornings, and once a week I schedule a longer painting session. Put it on your calendar!

4. Focus on one hobby or activity a week. Write a weekly to do list based on the hobby/activity you chose. For example, for hiking your list might include: researching hiking trails in your area, assessing your wardrobe for hiking gear, reaching out to friends to join you on a hike, looking online for hiking tips and info, planning a hike for the week, and ultimately going on a hike.

Tips: Start small. Don’t start out with a 5 hour hike or a large canvas. Try a shorter beginner trail or a small drawing on paper – something less intimidating. Don’t invest a lot. When possible use what you have at the start. If you determine you love a hobby and are going to continue with it, then spend money as needed.

5. Reflect on the week and the activity. Did you enjoy it? Do you want to continue with it? If so do it. If not, go to the next item on your list.

6. Repeat until you find something you want to continue with. Trying new things is fun, but at a certain point you may want to focus. Focusing allows you to improve in a specific area.

Through this process you may even uncover several hobbies you enjoy. You may also find something you like, focus on it for a few weeks or months, and then decide to move on to something else. At that point you can always refer back to your list – or create a new one – to find the next thing to try.

Interested in exploring your creativity? Creativity is for everyone! Talent is just a starting point.

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!

How to Find a Hobby You'll Enjoy | Retirement ideas


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NOW is the time for YOUR Creative Exploration to begin!

Creative Exploration book -

Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life is a 62 page pdf ebook with:

  • Over 30 Creative Tips
  • Step by Step Process for Introducing Regular Creativity for Six Weeks and beyond!
  • Worksheets for taking stock of your creative goals, history, past hurdles
  • Worksheet for organizing and prioritizing all of your creative ideas.
  • Detailed process for introducing you to different mediums – with flexibility for your interests.

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?

Creative Exploration is for you! Order now by clicking here.

Creative Freebies - weekly creative planner color wheel printable stickers Creative Exploration ebook
Order Creative Exploration now through September 24th and receive the printable Bonus Kit for FREE!
  • Printable Creative Weekly Planner worksheet
  • Printable Color Wheel and Color Wheel worksheet
  • Printable Creative Exploration “Stickers”

Do you spend more time scrolling and pinning or liking, than doing your own creative projects? Do you dabble in creativity but can’t seem to develop a regular routine? Would you like to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Would you like to start on your own creative journey and explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing?

Creativity is for EVERYONE. Talent is just a starting point.

I once read about an artist and wondered who told her she should pursue creativity, who gave her permission? Thankfully I realized she gave herself permission, and it was time for me to give myself permission. I had goals that involved exploring mediums, developing skills, and finding inspiration, but what I didn’t expect was the feeling that creativity gives me. For a long time regular creativity eluded me, but I finally made a commitment that has brought so much joy into my life, for five years and counting.

I want that for you! I want to share my process for developing a regular creative practice and start you on your creative journey.

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!

regular creative practice | how to be creative | creative exploration


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It all comes down to you

Achieving goals

We went to an indoor rock climbing place for my son’s birthday. I knew he wanted us all to climb and I was fine with that. I’d done it years ago, so I thought it would be no problem. I was all harnessed up, at the bottom of the first wall, when I realized this was going to require effort! If I wanted to get up there, I was going to have to pull myself up. You’re probably saying, “well of course.” I don’t know what I was thinking! For some reason I thought it was going to be easy.

I started climbing and even though I refused to look, I sensed that I was getting further and further from my family, and higher and higher. I’m definitely more anxious than I was years ago, when I last tried it. I becoming afraid of going too high and didn’t make it to the top of that wall, or the next one. I did make it to the top of the wall in this photo!

I couldn’t help but see the analogy between climbing and achieving goals. We might start out thinking that painting, or writing a book, or whatever, won’t be that hard, but when you really get into it, you realize it is. Even if the process (of painting or writing or whatever) is easy for you, the commitment and dedication to finish a project is hard. And when you put yourself out on a limb and go for a goal, even with your family supporting you, it can still be scary.

One of the main things that helps me achieve goals is focus. I try to think carefully about what I want to spend my time on, what goals are important to me. If I pick a project on a whim, I can lose interest or confidence in the project, and I end up jumping from idea to idea without accomplishing anything. But with a carefully selected goal in mind, I have an easier time staying on task. I may falter for a time but the importance of the project will bring me back around.

What helps you achieve your goals?

I share creative tips and inspiration in my weekly newsletter. Sign up now and get the following freebies:

  • Watercolor Quick Start Guide – everything you need to know to get started in watercolor
  • 50 ideas on what to draw or paint

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Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction


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Routine and Regular Creativity

Watercolor travel palette | regular creativity
It’s important to be creative on a regular basis. It’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to the start of the school year. There is more of a routine, which helps me stick to regular creativity. Once the kids leave for school, I sit and play in my sketchbook, work on a painting in progress, or whatever strikes me. It’s a no pressure time.

Lately I’ve been carving out time for creativity, even on our vacation –  a few minutes in the hotel while we get ready, or now a morning on the back deck of the condo. The water and pine trees out back is such a contrast to the beach, which is a short walk from the front door. It’s fun to use different colors than I use with seascape painting. My Koi watercolor travel palette is serving me well. The paints are very saturated. I can mix them to get the desired colors.

I was also inspired by the ironwork while we were in Charleston.
Secret garden watercolor illustration Ironwork door watercolor illustration

Looking to add regular creativity to your life? 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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Soaking up Inspiration

Soaking up inspiration for the next seascape painting
It’s hard to know what I enjoy more, a visit to the beach or time spent painting. Recently I did both in the same day. Obviously it was a good day.
Beach day by Eileen McKenna
Beach day by Eileen McKenna shadow in the foam
The beach visit was an early morning one with my husband and coffee. Love those.

The painting session – which took place at home later on – was with acrylics on canvas, instead of my usual watercolor. I’ve been itching to get back to acrylics. I worked on a canvas I had already started, and was able to finish it, which felt great.
Acrylic seascape painting by Eileen McKenna

I’m looking forward to another day like this one!

I share creative tips and inspiration in my weekly newsletter. Sign up now and get the following freebies:

  • Watercolor Quick Start Guide – everything you need to know to get started in watercolor
  • 50 ideas on what to draw or paint

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Overcoming Creative Hurdles

Overcoming Creative Hurdles

Many things prevent us from being creative. Here are a few, with suggestions for overcoming them.

Time. We all lead busy lives, but if creativity is a priority you can find time for it. Wake up a few minutes early, watch less TV, or do it while you watch TV. Give up time spent on other things, or incorporate creativity WITH those things. I sometimes sketch while having my morning coffee and waiting to drive the kids to school.

Skill Level. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a project and feeling like you lack the skills to finish. I recommend pausing your project and using the available online resources. A quick YouTube video, followed by a practice session, can get you back on track.

Confidence. You may think it’s not worth it to spend your time on creativity because only the “talented” should spend time being creative. Should only yogis bother doing yoga, or olympic runners spend time running? There are benefits to creativity at every level!

Motivation. Wanting to be creative and actually doing it are not the same thing. Find ways to motivate yourself. Work on things that excite you. Participate in challenges. Create schedules and deadlines. Break down bigger projects into small tasks and assign a due date to each task.

Procrastination. I can spend hours planning in my notebook the creative projects I’m going to do, or next steps with current projects. The longer I procrastinate, the harder it is to break out of it and actually create. I take advantage of breaks in my day to change gears and stop procrastinating.

Distraction. There is so much distracting us. Set a daily reminder on your phone. “Were you creative today?” My reminder goes off at noon and reads, “Did you draw today?” It reminds me of what I want to do.

Focus. Have too many ideas and can’t focus on one? Try my Creative Ideas Worksheet. It will help you prioritize, focus, and finally make progress with your creative projects!

What hurdles get in the way of your creativity? I’d love to hear!

I share creative tips and inspiration in my weekly newsletter. Sign up now and get the following freebies:

  • Watercolor Quick Start Guide – everything you need to know to get started in watercolor
  • 50 ideas on what to draw or paint
  • US Flag with fireworks clipart

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Finishing your creative projects is important

Finishing creative projects
It’s such a good feeling to finish a creative project and motivation for the next one! I used to be awful about following through on my creative ideas. I would start a project excited about my idea and as soon as things got hard or weren’t easily working out like I envisioned I’d give up.
The finished painting:
Jones Beach jetty painting by Eileen McKenna
Where I started from today:
Jones Beach jetty painting in progress by Eileen McKenna
When I started my blog – My Creative Resolution, the first thing I did was pull out unfinished projects and finished them. I didn’t plan it that way I just did it. In doing this I learned so much about pushing through the hard parts of a project and I learned how rewarding and motivating it is to finish. I learned what turned out to be a crucial skill in the beginning of my creative journey. I also learned that done is better than perfect and never finished. And any “mistakes” I make are just lessons for the next project. If you read this far I hope I inspired you to pull out a neglected project and give it another try! Tag me on Instagram @eileenmckenna if you do. 😀
Have so many ideas you don’t know where to start? Gain focus with 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
creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration
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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Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.

Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.
As creatives we usually have no shortage of ideas. This is definitely true for me. I never have artist’s block. What I experience is feeling overwhelmed by ideas and not being able to pick a focus and direction.

Gain focus with 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

Before my blog and my creative resolution, I had many unfinished projects lying around. Having the commitment of this blog helped me learn to finish projects. In doing this, I also learned how motivating a sense of accomplishment is! It didn’t really matter what the final result was. What mattered was that I had an idea and executed it to completion. Armed with the learning experience of that finished project, I could decide on the next one.

Now that I’m a bit obsessed with accomplishing things, feeling overwhelmed by a huge list of ideas is very unsettling. This is what I typically do to work through too many ideas.

1. Write down every idea. On one or two pages, write down each idea on a line, one after another. Just getting them out of my head is a bit of a relief.

2. Pause for a moment, drink a coffee, and then read through the list.

3. Prioritize the items on the list. A book I loved – Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – recommends labeling items as A, B, and C. A is the highest priority.

4. Number the A’s. Once the items are assigned A B or C, number the projects labeled A (priority). On a new page write the highest ranked A items, leaving several lines underneath each project. Write a few tasks necessary for this project under the project. This doesn’t have to include every task to complete the project, just the next few steps.

5. Write a To Do list. Because I typically have a few projects going on at once, I take the top tasks under the priority items and create a To Do list.

6. Pick one To Do list item and act on it and complete it.

7. Celebrate the completion of a task by checking it off the list.

8. Move on to the next item on the To Do list. Complete all the items on the list.

9. Create a new To Do list. Once the original to do list is completed, go back to the task lists under the priority projects and use some of the remaining tasks to create another To Do list.

10. Repeat creating To Do lists (and accomplishing the items on them) until the priority projects are completed.

11. Go back to the idea list, once the priority projects are completed. Read through and see if the A B C ratings you gave the remaining projects still apply. Adjust as needed and then go back and repeat steps 4 – 11. Some projects on your idea list will cease to interest you. Cross them off when that happens.

This process gives my mind clarity and then I can focus. I designed a Creative Ideas Worksheet that’s pretty and easy to use! Download it in my Etsy shop here.
Creative Ideas Planning Worksheet pdf for when you have too many creative project ideas

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

Creative Exploration book -

creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration

Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.

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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Art Books

Recommended creative reading - art books - women artists, urban painting watercolor
I bought myself 2 early birthday presents:

Danielle Krysa’s book “A Big Important Art Book: Now with Women!” Danielle is the author of the wildly popular blog The Jealous Curator, creator of, one of my favorite podcasts, Art for your Ear, and author of several other books including a favorite of mine “Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative.”

Shari Blaukopf’s “Working with Color: Techniques for Using Media on the Go.” I have followed Shari’s blog “The Sketchbook” and admired her watercolor work since I started blogging. Her ability to paint the colors and shades of snow has always amazed me.

I can’t wait to read them!

Read more of my reading recommendations here: “Books for Creatives.”
19 Books for Creatives

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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